Rowan University Exhibit Brings Together Diverse Artists at LBIF

May 17, 2017
Artwork by: Joseph Tishler ‘Reclining Figure’ is an acrylic painting by Joseph Tishler.

“We Create,” the Rowan University faculty exhibit at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, brings together a wide range of artists whose only connection is their workplace, and that’s what makes this show so exciting – professionals creating in their own way under the freedom of an educational institution.

Imagine a political illustrator syndicated by the Los Angeles Times and appearing in publications around the world rubbing creative elbows with a puppet master who teaches at national puppet conventions. Rowan University creates a learning synergy by bringing disparate artists together.

Nancy Ohanian is the political illustrator and she exhibits three of her works as digital prints on aluminum: “Gun Lobby,” “EPA Regulation” and “Donald Trump President.”

Unsurprisingly, the illustrations are liberal expressions of matters of national importance, but no matter your political affiliation, who could not chortle at Trump in Mexican peasant garb?

Puppeteer Patrick Ahearn exhibits his puppet, “Katrina,” in a stage setting. She has appeared in puppet productions of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ahearn has taught plaster mold making at the 2016 Puppet Homecoming festival in the Catskills, a gathering of the best in puppet theater.

Nancy Sophy’s works on paper, “Surface” and “Altogether Elsewhere,” are examples of her experiments with an unfamiliar medium: un-pigmented oils and pastel. The ethereal patterns that result are beautiful, and Sophy writes that she enjoys the “unpredictability of the medium.” Her work is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Joseph Tishler has been an art professor at Rowan since 1964. The job has allowed him to continue his painting unimpeded, and for that he is grateful, he writes. His acrylic painting, “Reclining Figure,” is a symphony of color and design. Just as an aside, he sometimes uses his hand and fingers to manipulate the paint.

Ekaterina Vanovskaya’s work is very appealing for those of us who enjoy an implied narrative. “Intermission” is a clothed woman in winter standing alone, perhaps for a bus, with what appears to be bloodied knees. “Have a Nice Life” portrays a relationship gone sour, and “Man and Boy” could be a father and son posing for a family photo. These are not smiling people. Are they middle European or Russian?

Caitlin Clements’ feminist art, “We were Stuck, (We were free),” “I thought it was June” and “Nothing Sweeter” all portray a vague uneasiness. Not all narrative art has to be prose; some can be poetry.

Aubrey Levinthal’s “Alex in Nice” is built along the same, vague narrative line. Is this type of art too personal? Only symbolic to the maker? In a post-modern world, the experience of a painting can be as fleeting as an interesting snip of conversation heard in a crowd.

Herbert Appelson’s series of appealing abstracts such as “Green Pastures” and “Random Markings” have thread embossments.

Skef Thomas is a nationally known ceramicist. His “Teapot in Red” and “Urn in Red” are good examples of his highly textural pots.

There are examples of computer-aided art. Mark Zarfuz’s “Kinetic” sculpture is a mesh screen that moves back and forth over a man’s face wearing shades. Jenny Drumgoole’s video, “Q&A with the Women of Philadelphia,” is about a cream cheese recipe contest the artist spoofed and then chronicled as a commentary on the nature of celebrity.

“We Create” continues through the month at the Foundation. An artist talk is from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on May 20 and a reception with refreshments follows. As an added attraction, the Garden Club of Long Beach Island will exhibit fresh flower arrangements that complement the paintings over the May 20-21 weekend.

— Pat Johnson


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