'Pieced Together' Group Exhibit at New Jersey Art Incubator

Originally Posted on West Orange Patch West Orange based visual artist, curator and manager of visual services at the JCC Metrowest galleries, Lisa Suss, has again demonstrated that she sure knows how to put on a show.

This time out, she gives us a summer gift of "Pieced Together," an excellent group show at the New Jersey Arts Incubator (NJAI) Gallery, a not for profit arts organization located in the Essex Green Mall in West Orange. There are works by 14 artists, all members of the area based Exhibitors' Co-Op, an artist collective.

The approximately 40 works on display encompass a variety of media and styles with figurative based art predominating.

Let's start with Suss and her deftly executed water colors, "Anyway You Slice It" and "To the Point." Both feature familiar objects on a striped cloth ground — hard boiled eggs on a glass plate or an assembly of crisscrossing colored pencils and scissors. But the familiar becomes enigmatic the more you look. Suss' works play with reflections and shifting perspective and planes — what is really keeping that plate of sliced eggs from sliding off the table?

"My goal is to focus on everyday objects but make the viewer see the everyday from a different point of view," Suss said. "Many water colorists work on wet paper, but I am not handling the medium in a conventional way; I'm working on dry paper. I can get a harder edge."

A nice companion pair to Suss' works are two water colors by Basking Ridge's Letty Oratowski. Her still life "Decanter With Pears" similarly intrigues with shifting planes, here with an emphasis on the distortions of the reflected objects.

From Oratowski, it's a nice leap to Maplewood based Joy Yagid's two beautiful, watery photographs, "Face" and "Swim," the latter especially carrying through the distortion theme as a swimmer's legs, refracted in the water, move in and out of reality and abstraction.

Florence Weisz's grouping of nine, similarly themed, cautionary tales is another standout. Each of her mixed media collages work fine on its own, but together they tell a larger story:

"It's part memoir, part inventory, part confessional," Weisz said. "It started when a cousin was facing eviction from her New York City apartment where she had been unable to part with things for 52 years. I was helping her sort through, throw out." (Weisz's efforts were successful; the cousin kept her apartment.)

Weisz first documents two of her relative's fixations by photographing the objects and superimposing these images on the frames of shadow boxes holding samples of the actual objects in question — papers, eye glasses.

Then Weisz surveyed her own collections of brass works and matchboxes, attained during the West Orange based artist's many travels. She asked, "What is the blurry line between collecting and hoarding?"

I especially liked the brightly colored "Rainbow Tale," where Weisz zeroes in on her household assembly of cleaning bottles and materials and "Matchboxes" with its sense of an infinite landscape of these graphic relics of places visited and of a past, smoke filled "Mad Men" era.

The works of mixed media artist Julie Levine of West Orange and Florence Wint of Maplewood were the most abstract in the show and among the most powerful.

Levine works in clay, paint and found objects, affixing each to a wood base, either rectangular in shape or a totem. She first creates jig saw pieces of clay — often an assembly of masks — each expression exploring a facet of herself. "I'm breaking out a little, using bold color on the faces," Levine said. "My father was a serious collector of pre Columbian and primitive art. All these faces are different and each takes me to a different place."

Wint's paint and fabric collages can be seen as another side of this artist's extraordinary sense of color, flow and visual imagination; through July 24, a companion visit to this NJAI show can be found at the JCC Metrowest Gaelen Gallery nearby, where Wint's figurative, painted sculptures are creating their own sensations — another Suss curatorial feat.

"I use African fabrics," Wint said, "I like their abstract shapes and that they are made from wood cuts, perhaps because I worked in wood cut for so long. I tried using American fabrics but they were too quiet, too decorative for me." Applying a riot of fabric to acrylic painted canvases, Wint's works transport the viewer to the essence of an Eden of a "Garden," "Hawaii," and "Mexico."

Go to see "Pieced Together" and let this excellent show by a highly accomplished group of artists make you rethink the world.

Most all of the works are for sale with prices ranging from $100 to $1,500 and many may be previewed here. "Pieced Together is on exhibit through Sunday, August 14 at the New Jersey Art Incubator Gallery at the Essex Green Mall, Prospect Avenue, south of Route 280 in West Orange. Park in Upper lot near Panera's and follow the plaza to the right of the AMC mural.

Regular hours are 1p.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Other hours are before NJAI evening musical and theater performances or contact info@exhibitorscoop.com for an appointment. Learn more about the New Jersey Art Incubator and attain directions at www.njai.org

Originally Posted on West Orange Patch