West Windsor, NJ: Suspense, excitement, and lots of gratitude were evident on March 15, when more than 130 students, former students, art lovers and friends joined with Mercer County Community College’s well-loved professor of art Mel Leipzig at a special event to celebrate the arts.
The college joined with Professor Leipzig in hosting the event to raise awareness and dollars for a new gallery planned for the downtown Trenton campus as part of a college expansion. Professor Leipzig also unveiled three of his new paintings, which feature MCCC faculty and staff members.
In her opening remarks MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue said Mercer students will not only have the opportunity to show their art at the new gallery, they will also learn how to hang and curate gallery shows. “We are so pleased that Mel is connecting his work to building our future gallery,” she said.
A student video created by MCCC Television students made the case for expansion of the downtown Trenton campus. “Returning to Our Roots” featured many who have been involved in the college’s long history in Trenton. They spoke of the importance of expanding program opportunities for the Trenton community.
Attending the event were those who modeled for Leipzig’s three new paintings. A realist painter, Leipzig enjoys painting detailed environments. He painted his long-time student, 96-year-old Jeanne Calo, at her home where she displays artifacts she collected from her travels throughout the world. His painting of Professor of Mathematics Art Schwartz depicts him in his classroom, and MCCC cashier Tierah Goodman was painted with the West Windsor campus cafeteria as a backdrop.
MCCC began as a school of fine and industrial arts, and evolved into Trenton Junior College before becoming a community college in 1964. In his remarks Leipzig said, “Mercer has the finest art school in state, and now is the time to build a new gallery in Trenton for our students. A gallery in the heart of the city will be terrific. Culture needs a city.”
Four of Leipzig’s current students agreed that they are lucky to be in the class of such an esteemed artist. Said Ian Murphy, “He could be teaching anywhere. I guess his support of the student art gallery is his way of giving back.”
Much heralded as a painter, Professor Leipzig has garnered a multitude of awards and honors for his art. His works are part of the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, The White House, and the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum. In 2006 he was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York, and was featured in ArtNews Magazine’s November 2011 issue.
Members of the arts community who supported the event included Jackie Keener, an adjunct ESL instructor at MCCC, and one of 76 artists selected for the 2012 Mercer County Artists Exhibit at MCCC's gallery. She remarked about the importance of the student art gallery. “That’s how I got my start – in a single artist show in a student gallery. It opened up doors.”
Still in the planning stages, the new gallery needs donors to assist with providing track lighting, pedestals, projectors, flat-screens and other display requirements. For more information about the project, click here or contact MCCC’s College Advancement Office at 609-570-3293.