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“Mercer County Artists” Award Winners Announced; Exhibit on Display at MCCC Gallery through Feb. 27


West Windsor, N.J. – The Mercer County arts community came out in force to view the rich and varied works of fellow artists at the Awards Ceremony and Opening Reception for “Mercer County Artists 2015” on February 4. The exhibit is on display through February 27 at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), located on the second floor of the Communications Building on the college's West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. 

The show features 89 works by 63 artists in a variety of media including oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings, as well as mixed media collages and 23 sculptures.

Gallery Director Dylan Wolfe announced the award winners with fellow presenters Tricia Fagan and Nora Añanos from the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission. “This exhibit clearly demonstrates the immense talent and culture of Mercer County,” Wolfe said.  “Supporting the arts sustains the inspirations we can each find when we are living in a community flush with creativity, culture and the expression of passions.”

He thanked juror Kyle Stevenson, an artist and MCCC Professor of Fine Arts, for judging 244 pieces submitted by 138 artists. “Having been present during his deliberation, I can tell you with certainty that he made many difficult choices,” Wolfe told the Gallery crowd.

Wolfe also acknowledged the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission for its continuing support of the exhibit. “The commission not only supports us through grant funding, but also purchased artwork totalling over $2500 from this exhibit. They continue to build a remarkable permanent collection of county created, county owned artwork, and provide direct support and encouragement to our community of artists,” he said.

Award winners include: the Utrecht-Blick Best in Show Prize to David Orban of Trenton for “The Work Party: The Workbench.” The Juror's Choice Awards went to Janis Purcell of East Windsor for “Phoenix Rising” and Megan Uhaze of Hamilton for “The Eye.” Juror’s Honorable Mention recipients were Marina Ahun of Princeton for “New York Grand Central Terminal”; Elise Dodeles of Lambertville for “San Francisco Area Fighter A219, Ike O’Rourke”; James Doherty of Lawrence for “Wynwood Walls”; Timothy J. Fitzpatrick of Mercerville for “Low Tide”; and Bill Plank of Lawrenceville for “Birth.”

County Purchase Awards went to Jamie Greenfield of Lawrenceville for “Seven Gold Coins”; Libby Ramage of Princeton for “Incantation"; John Pietrowski of Ewing (untitled); Adam Hillman of Pennington (untitled); Terri McNichol of Cranbury for “The Baptism”; and Cathy Saska-Mydlowski of Hamilton for “South Beach.”

Arin Black, Executive Director of the West Windsor Arts Council, awarded the council’s prize to Kathleen Liao of Princeton Junction for “Quantum Leap.”

Inspiration came from varied, sometimes unexpected, sources. McNichol, a fine arts instructor at MCCC, notes that the subject matter for her painting "Baptism" was drawn from a visit to the beach last summer when she happened upon a group performing this sacred rite. “It felt like I was meant to be there. It was a canvas waiting for me to paint,” McNichol said. Doherty’s painting, “Wynwood Walls,” was inspired by a visit to Miami, a city that is making street art a priority. “There are clean walls in Miami that are being turned over to graffiti artists,” he said, noting that the woman he painted was about to set to work on one such wall.

Artists also found inspiration straight out of their own lives. Fitzpatrick, whose “Low Tide” depicts fishermen at the Jersey shore, said, "I love to fish. I painted a scene that was natural for me to capture.” Another artist inspired by everday life was John Pietrowski, a former MCCC professor who has been painting local streetscapes for many years. When Illustration/Graphic Design student Grace Vasquez saw his Purchase Award-winning painting of the Italian People’s Bakery, she reacted with joy. “I knew it immediately. That’s where I work,” she said, adding that the painting reinforces her belief that “everything is art.” Vasquez, who expects to graduate from MCCC in May and continue her art studies at a four-year art school, says she is the first in her family to go to college and is paving the way for her younger brother.

Self-portraits and portraits of loved ones also figure prominently. For artist Samita Bhalia of West Windsor, the show provided an opportunity to give her son, Curran, a unique present for his 29th birthday, which he celebrated on the day of the opening. Using a photograph taken in Brooklyn, she drew a pencil sketch of him that was selected for the show.  “It was a total surprise for him. He didn’t know anything about it until he got here tonight,” she said with a bright smile.

The magical and spiritual were echoed in many works. Bill Plank, an MCCC Fine Arts alumnus (1977), is a retired art teacher who continues to produce at a prodigious rate, with much of his work inspired by fantasy and magic.  He has had multiple exhibits at Lawrence Library and will be part of a show there with other MCCC alumni in May.

Sculpture continues to add a strong and creative mark. Janis Purcell has participated in the show many times, but this was the first year she has received an award. “This was the first time I entered a sculpture and it won,” said the surprised and delighted artist. Purcell’s bird is composed of needle-felted merino wool and mixed media; she was dressed to match it in brilliant blue and burnt orange.

Other featured artists are: Priscilla Snow Algava of Princeton, Joanne Amantea of Princeton, Sheryl Bassman of Robbinsville, Richard Bilotti of Pennington, Mechtild Bitter of Princeton, Donna Blachford of Monroe Township, Michele Bouchard of West Windsor, Emily Buchalski of Hamilton, Michael Buriani of Hamilton Square, Sean Carney of Ewing, Al Chasan of West Windsor, Larry Chestnut of Hamilton, Sue Chui of Lawrenceville, Patricia Cook Rubino of Trenton, Chris Cooper of Lawrenceville, Ingrid Davis of East Windsor, Katja De Rutyer of Princeton, NJ DeVico of Titusville, Mary Dolan of Princeton, Joseph Dougherty of Pennington, Chris DuBois of Robbinsville, Lynne Faridy of Levittown, Pa., Janet Felton of Princeton Junction, Mary Gilchrist of Hamilton, Dee Gozonsky of West Windsor, Kyle Hamilton of Hamilton, Jamaila Hernandez of Franklin Park, Marlene Hingstman of Ewing, Michael Kane of Hamilton, Michael Kember of Trenton, Sejal Krishnan of Princeton, Ronald A. LaMahieu of Princeton, Scott Madsen of Lawrenceville, Suzanne Migliori of Groveville, Arlene Gale Milgram of Trenton, Gabi Muenzel of Plainsboro, Caryn Newman of Ewing, Lea Novak of Hamilton, Michael V. Pascucci of Monroe, Ghislaine Pasteur of Princeton, Elizabeth Pelikan of Lawrenceville, Dallas Piotrowski of Hamilton, Vijay Sawant of East Windsor, Christa Schneider of Princeton, J. Marion Simmons of Plainsboro, Larry Steele of Lawrenceville, Judith Tallerman of Princeton, Cathy Tsao of East Windsor, Ellen Veden of Princeton, Andrew Werth of Princeton Junction, Mark Wilkie of Hamilton Square, Susan Winter of Hightstown, and Mary Yess of Trenton.

Wolfe, who curated the show, was assisted by MCCC students Autumn Bardachino, Mackenzie Evans and Chris DuBois.

For more about the MCCC Gallery, click here.

Janis Purcell with "Phoenix Rising."
Architect Marina Ahun captures her fascination with beautiful buildings in "New York, Grand Central.


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Terri McNichols' watercolor "The Baptism." The MCCC Fine Arts instructor specializes in watercolor and will teach a 10-week class at Mercer starting Feb. 26.
Jamie Greenfield with "Seven Gold Coins,"which began with the coins and grew from there.
Student Grace Vasquez recognized the Italian People's Bakery, the sujbect for John Pietrowski's untitled work and her place of employment.
Dallas Piotrowski's "The Warrior." Piotrowski is the former curator at The Chapin School and served as juror for last year's Mercer County Artists exhibit.
MCCC Fine Arts student Adam Hillman's detailed
drawings take on a three-dimensional textured effect.
Tim Fitzpatrick's "Low Tide" blends two of his favorite pasttimes -- painting and fishing.
Joseph Dougherty with his self-portrait.

Samita Bhalia surprised her son, Curran, who is the subject of "A Brooklyn Moment in Time."

Street artists and the potential of Miami's blank public walls
are the inspiration for James Doherty's "Wynwood Walls."