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Diverse Talents of “Mercer County Artists” Shine at Awards Reception; Exhibit on Display at MCCC Gallery through April 3


West Windsor, N.J. -- The local arts community had a chance to meet, greet and enjoy the diverse, colorful and often poignant works of fellow artists at an Awards Reception for “Mercer County Artists 2014” on March 13.  The exhibit is on display at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road in West Windsor, through April 3.  It features 96 works by 75 artists and includes oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings, as well as mixed media collages and sculptures in clay, found art, and recycled materials.

Gallery Director Dylan Wolfe announced the award winners with fellow presenters Tricia Fagan and Nora Añanos from the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission.  “The art we see around us clearly confirms the vibrancy of the arts here in Mercer County,” Wolfe said. “Without these artists, we would live in a less colorful, meaningful and inspired community.  They remind us how important art is in shaping and reshaping our experience in the world.”

He thanked juror Dallas Piotrowski, the curator at The Chapin School Gallery, for judging 227 entries and narrowing the show “to what could reasonably fit into this space.”  He also acknowledged the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission for its continuing support of the Mercer County Artists exhibit.  “Through its Purchase Awards program, the Cultural and Heritage Commission is creating an amazing collection while providing direct support and encouragement to the artists in our community,” Wolfe said.

Award winners include: the Utrecht Best in Show Prize to Michelle Rothwell, of Trenton, for “Passion Turbo”; Juror's Choice Awards to Mary Atlas, of Princeton, for “Caged Innocence” and Helene Plank, of Lawrenceville, for “Self-Portrait”; and County Purchase Awards to Ilene Dube, of Princeton, for “Bowties & Butterflies,” Susan Luty, of Hightstown, for “Out of the Earth, Into the Fire,” Helene Plank for “Self-Portrait,” and Kathleen Wallace of Churchville for “October Creek I.”

Rothwell’s “Passion Turbo,” a pigment ink on paper, is a marriage of art and science.  “I was able to sculpt forms from a virtual blob of clay using the same 3-D tools used by game designers and film animators,” she explained, adding that with this technique she is able to add texture and depth. “It’s a flat surface, but you feel like you can touch it.”   A former game design instructor at MCCC, Rothwell currently teaches game design and animation at the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn. 

Rothwell acknowledges that there is a steep learning curve with this type of art.   “The price of admission is high until you get to the creative part, but when you get there, there is so much you can do.  Technology is not the enemy.  I am making fine art using the tools of our time.”  She added that she is honored and pleased to have gotten the Best in Show award.  “It is a validation that the clarity and voice that I am finding in my art is something people can respond to,” she said.

Juror’s Choice Award winner Atlas says her sculpture “Caged Innocence” was inspired by a documentary she watched about the inhumane methods for shipping tropical birds for sale in the United States.  Originally from Oklahoma, Atlas retired after 14 years as an art teacher at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South and is now focusing on her art full-time.  Her other piece selected for the show, “Renaissance Peacock, ” draws from 15th century Italian imagery.  “Every piece I do is a transformation to another.  It just keeps going,” Atlas says.

Helene Plank, an MCCC Fine Arts alumna (1977), won two awards for her very first piece in a new genre.  Using approximately 1,700 buttons in different sizes and often just slightly varied colorations, she created “Self-Portrait.”  Measuring 28 x 28, the piece took her more than 70 hours to complete.  She has since worked on two other button mosaics and says the process is getting faster.  “I’m getting better as I go along,” said Plank, who was clearly overwhelmed by her multiple awards selections.

Sean Carney has been a Lawrence High School art teacher for more than a decade.  He had stopped painting for years while focused on teaching and starting a family.  “Beverly” is among his first works since he took up his paintbrush again and captures his favorite house in the Massachusetts seaside town where he spends time over the summer.  Noting that he has completed 91 paintings in the past year, he says, “I have a lot of pent-up creativity.”  He came to the show with his wife and sons, the older of whom, John, was fascinated by a number of animal sculptures.

Deena Miller’s ceramic piece “Grandpa Joe’s Patent 1935” is a kind of tribute to her grandfather.  “He once worked as an engineer in Buffalo, New York,” she recalled.  She was able to find his drawings on the Internet and was delighted to be able to incorporate them into her bowl.

Another artist used a relative as her inspiration.  Deborah Paglione, a Princeton realtor, worked from a photo her father took of her mother at the Empire State Building.  “1948 View” depicts the fashions and the New York skyline circa mid-20th century.   “It looks totally different now. The iron gate has been replaced by a giant fence,” she said.  Paglione, a past president of the Watercolor Society of New Jersey, says she paints as a diversion from her often stressful job.

Other featured artists are: Marina Ahun of Princeton, Joanne Amantea of Princeton, Catherine Babecki of Pennington, Frank Bardachino of Allentown, Bob Barish of Pennington, Samita Bhatia of Princeton, Donna Blachford of Monroe Twp., Janis Blayne-Paul of Lambertville, Mic Boekelmann of Princeton, Tina Boyer of Trenton, Michael Buriani of Hamilton Square, Larry Chestnut of Hamilton, Sue Chiu of Lawrenceville, Louis Cicchini, Ben Colbert of Trenton, Salvatore Damiano of Hamilton, Ingrid Davis of East Windsor, Hanneke de Neve of Hamilton, Chris DuBois, Rob Enggist of Hamilton, Susan Ezzo of West Windsor, Lynne Faridy of Levittown, Janet Felton of Princeton Junction, Maurice Galimidi of Ewing, Greg Goodwine of Robbinsville, Kathleen Green of Lawrenceville, Bill Hoeflich of Trenton, Bob Justin of Hamilton, Renee Kumar of Princeton Junction, Jane Lawrence of Mercerville, Ron LeMahieu of Princeton, Diane Maller of Princeton, Eugene McCray of Princeton, Charles McCullough of Hopewell, Lucretia E. McGuff-Silverman of Roosevelt, Terri McNichol of Cranbury, Arlene Gale Milgram of Trenton, Deena Miller of Lawrenceville, Glenn Moore of Hamilton, Paul Mordetsky of Hightstown, Caryn Newman of Ewing, Lea Novak of Hamilton Square, Deborah Paglione of Robbinsville, Ruthann Perry of Lawrenceville, Mircea Popescu of Lawrenceville, Maria Raimondo of Robbinsville, Libby Ramage of Princeton, Leona Rosso-Dzugan of West Windsor, Joel Rudin of Princeton, Jules Schaeffer of Belle Mead, Christa Schneider of Princeton, Mark Schreiber, Nancy Scott of Lawrenceville, Deirdre Sheean of Roosevelt, Margaret Simpson of Hamilton, Alice Sims-Gunzenhauser of Princeton, Priscilla Snow-Algava of Princeton, Harvey Steinberg of Lawrenceville, Kyle Stevenson of Hamilton, Katie Truk of Hamilton Square, Cathy Tsao, Megan Uhaze of Hamilton, Shaomei Wan of East Windsor, Rena White of Lawrenceville, Mark Wilkie of Hamilton and Susan Winter of Highstown.

The Gallery at Mercer is located on the second floor of the Communications Building on the West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. Directions and gallery hours are available at www.mccc.edu/gallery.

Arlene Milgram has two encaustics on panel in the show. An artist who has been selected for the show multiple times, she says, "This is a lucky show for me."

Lynn Faridy’s painting “After Sandy,” originated with an assignment from MCCC painting professor Kyle Stevenson, in which he asked students to combine the styles of two artists.








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Michelle Rothwell, with "Passion Turbo," the Utrecht Best in Show award winner. The piece is a 3-D sculpture that bridges the worlds of art and technology.
Mary Altas' "Caged Innocence" was selected for a Juror's Choice Award. The wood, paint and found art sculpture was inspired by a documentary Atlas saw that depicted the inhumane treatment of tropical birds destined for sale in the United States.
Ilene Dube's mixed media "Bowties and Butterflies" was selected for a Purchase Award from the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission.
This crowd-pleasing exhibit features a floor-to-ceiling experience for visitors.
Kathleen Wallace, who had two pastels selected for the show, won a Purchase Award for "October Creek I." She is pictured during the awards ceremony with, from left, Cultural and Heritage commissioner Nora Añanos, staff member Tricia Fagan and MCCC Gallery Director Dylan Wolfe.
Helene Plank's Self Portrait, made up of approximately 1,700 buttons, won Juror's Choice and Purchase awards.
Sean Carney, an art teacher at Lawrence High School with his son, Liam. They are pictured with Carney's painting "Beverly," one of his favorite mansions in the Massachusetts seaside town.

Deborah Paglione's "1948 View" is a watercolor depiction of a photo her father took of her mother at the Empire State building.