The Ellarslie Open has been Trenton’s premier show for regional artists for 36 years. Last year the pandemic struck and Ellarslie Open 37 was sidelined. But it’s back! And the Ellarslie Open 37/38 is bigger than ever, more diverse than ever, and it packs a double shot.
According to curator Joyce Inderbitzin, when the notice was published, 316 artists responded with 619 works of art that passed through two juries including juror Dr. William R. Valerio, director of the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, a selected 137 works by 126 artists. The result is a collection where many works are daring and daring and many are done with delicacy and attention to the smallest details.
In his juror statement, Valerio said he was deeply impressed by the diversity of artists who submitted works for review and by the range of works submitted. “Egg tempera is an ancient painting technique and you will see works made in this exquisite medium alongside digital art made with computer programs and Epson printers.”
You know you’re about to experience an innovative exhibit when you walk into the museum and your eye is immediately drawn to ‘Daniel’, a large painting of a colored man by Patricia Hutchinson who received the Curator’s Award. Look at his eyes, his posture. Consider her blue dress shirt rendered with such an exquisite understanding of light and shadow that you know it’s silk. He leans in as if to explain himself to you as the background from which he emerges is an abstract turbulence of chaotic colors, splashes and sweeps. This marriage of detail and abstraction clearly tells Daniel’s story. It is the quality of the work that you will find throughout the exhibition.
Stephen Althouse’s approach differs. In the exhibition material, he says he uses photographs of digitally manipulated objects as metaphors to represent aspects of humanity. In “Line With Hooks” on display, he addresses the spiritual nature of humans with hooks piercing torn cloth “in suggestion of suffering” and a fishing line “arranged in a gesture of crucifixion”. He says he often incorporates braille into his works to suggest “blindness and our inability to ‘see’ throughout our long history of repeated mistakes.” Althouse received the award for best show in photography.
Jin Tang captures the direct gaze of the “Little Girl on the Prairie” in a portrait of the girl in her native costume depicting her innate essence. And Gyuri Hollosy’s drawing, “Our John Of Sorrows” is not just a sincere and perfect rendering of the late US Representative John Lewis, the one tear that runs down his cheek says it all.
While COVID-19 has prompted many artists to delve into deeper research to understand themselves and others, this exhibit also shows that many were drawn on the outside contemplating broad perspectives. Helene Mazur takes viewers through horizontal and vertical rows of green growth and over “golden hills” to the mountains and sky in the distance. These same golden tones of nature were captured by Gregory Blue in his “Summer Evening Front, Stroud Series” where the horizon is low and the clouds reflect the glow of the earth. Helene Condouris brings us closer with her peaceful painting “Wellfleet Late Afternoon”, where the downward light falls softly on flowers and fence posts and a lonely white building standing by the bay.
There are finely detailed designs in the show such as Csilla Sadloch’s “White Husk 1” paper pod pack for which she was recognized as a finalist in design. Morgan Shankweiler’s “Ties That Bind” twisted and knotted pieces of rope gathered in a grid-like pattern won the Best In Show, Drawing award.
And there is fantasy. Don’t miss Lisa Falkestern’s “I’m Late”, where the good-natured white bunny wears a chic yellow jacket and top hat, holding her watch in one paw. And “Untitled Mound Drawing # 3” by Kate Eggleston and “Transition” by Carol Magner, sandstone and gold leaf sculptures that are paired together for display are lovely to be what they are.
And speaking of sculptures, although there are only a few in the exhibit, they are special and should not be missed – especially “Water-Bear Egg”, a porcelain by Brett Wallerstein, Runner Up, Sculpture, and Laurence Elle Groux’s enamelled sandstone “Renaissance”, which won the Best In Show, Sculpture Award.
If this is the color you like, there are plenty of them in this exhibition. Presented spectacularly upstairs, you will find “Intersectionality, Best In Show, Fiber Arts.” Your eyes will be immersed in a confluence of artist’s papers in orchid tones. Upstairs are also “Transcendent Butterflies” by Johanna Furst, “Snapping Turtle” by Michael Connors and “Brightness Falls” by Jeffrey Hartman, where color and action occur simultaneously. And in the first gallery below, your love of color will be sated with Andrew Chalfen’s mixed media, “Problem Solved”.
Then head to the main gallery and let your gaze wander through Christine Fortin’s large black and white painting where every inch of the surface is covered with small, precisely painted symbols and shapes, patterns and labyrinths and a girl with orange hair boldly confronting a rabid bull. . The title is “Futures” and won an EO first-time exhibitor award.
“Each artist has used their talent to express their own inspirations and ideas. Many are conceptual, some abstract, a number are portraits. There are many awards, but every piece demands attention, ”says curator Inderbitzen. “It’s a great exhibition. It runs for a long time, until October 3. This gives you the opportunity to visit multiple times if you wish.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO:
- WHAT: Ellarslie Open 37/38
- OR: City of Trenton Museum at Ellarslie Mansion, Cadwalader Park, Trenton
- WHEN: Until October 3. Hours from noon to 4 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Dates and details subject to change.
- CONTACT: 609-989-1191. ellarslie.org; [email protected]