Garden Club of LBI and Kean University Art Faculty Team up for ‘Art in Bloom’ at LBI Foundation

By PAT JOHNSON | May 22, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson Raymond G. Horner is the watercolor artist and Jennifer Schwab, the floral designer interpreting Horner’s painting of ‘My Mother.’

Loveladies — Fifteen hangers hold 15 intaglio prints of women’s torsos, 14 of which are partially clothed in pink mammography gowns. One gown is yellow and that torso is completely black, symbolizing the one in 15 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Artist Julie Harris created the installation and Nancy Kunz of the Garden Club of Long Beach Island created a flower piece to enhance it.

“The rose was selected for its structure – layered petals of delicate beauty that awaken full bloom – to represent hope and new beginnings. The tall, straight stems represent strength and determination and the black cane represent the obstacles that challenge all women,” wrote Kunz.

Once every two years, the Garden Club is invited to interpret and enhance an art exhibit. This year it was the Kean University faculty show at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies. The ephemeral nature of flowers means the public had only Sunday evening to appraise and appreciate the floral arrangements, and the exhibit itself also closed that night. However, the Blai Gallery was crowded as friends and art lovers mingled with the 20 artists represented and club members.

LBIF Director Daniella Kerner thanked Jennifer Crupi, program coordinator of the Fine Arts Conservatory at Kean, and the artists for their beautiful exhibit. Crupi said although the department is small, with just 150 students, it's an important part of Kean. The small class sizes means art students get the individual attention they need to bloom as artists in their own right.

This was Kean’s first invitation to LBIF and Crupi was impressed with the size of the gallery. She is a jewelry artist and some of her contemporary pieces adorned the walls.

One of the high points of the show was a group of watercolor paintings by Raymond G. Horner Jr. Horner teaches Intro to Art History for non-art majors and this leaves him time to devote to his paintings. His portraits are the significant people in his life: “My Mother,” painted with tones of blue and sunny yellow, “My Wife,” painted in warm oranges and reds, “Mother Gram,” a 95-year-old neighbor painted in a background of royal peacock blue. A portrait of a young man from his church is titled “Say What?” and a painting of a model is “Untitled.”

Horner enjoys the ability to layer colors that watercolor affords him. “I start with a loose wash and then use less water and more control to create the depth of color,” he explained. He also used the back of his brush to create channels in the paper where color pools. The wrinkles on his neighbor’s face were created this way. And spattering paint through a plastic basket made a design element on the model’s portrait. Horner has been perfecting his painting techniques for 50 years.

Two garden club arrangements enhanced the paintings: Jennifer Schwab used lavender stock, dahlias, black-eyed Susans and yellow chrysanthemums for her piece that highlighted “My Mother.” Jeannette Michelson gathered roses, gerbera daisies and ranunculus in an orange watering can for “Untitled.”

Bev Rettinger and Diane Pleyn took their interpretive cue from a recurring element in artist Anna Shukeylo’s 14 small, grouped acrylic paintings. Shukeylo’s paintings of window views into the interior of homes and small vignettes of single figures in rooms evoke a sense of nostalgia and loss but also the familiar. The two women’s flower arrangement was made in a window box with a window frame behind it.

Artist Triada Samaras had a number of large paintings in the exhibit. “Unraveled” is a symbolic painting of a woman reaching out while her world unravels. Diane Barbieri, incoming club president, and Kathy Gronostajski were thrilled with their successful interpretation, their first experience participating in “Art in Bloom.” Gronostajski was able to supply the sculptural hand from her eclectic collection of hands that was the centerpiece of the painting and the arrangement. “It came in handy,” joked Barbieri. They used scotch broom, pincushion protea, yellow carnations and blue thistle.

For Samaras’ “Uprising,” Michelle Farias used double white Asiatic lilies and a spray of bridal veil branches. For “The Storm” by Samara, Cathy Sutton created a vase chock full of white flowers to imitate the large white tent in the painting.

Artist Joe Zapytowski’s oil pastel “View from Mt. Cadillac” was interpreted by Helene Palestri and Colleen Norton, who created a miniature mountain vista using succulents and mosses in a terraced garden made from layered broken flowerpots.

Betty Frey had fun with moss when she interpreted Phillip Shimko’s “Blowing Bubbles,” one of his four oil paintings.

Next up at the Foundation is the “National Juried Competition: Works on Paper 2019,” opening May 24 and running through June 23, with 60 artworks from artists working in all 50 states. The juror is Louis Marchesan, curator of the Audrey and William H. Helfand Sr. collection of prints, drawings and photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

— Pat Johnson



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