Explore the Wonders of Ireland

Youghal Lighthouse-Cork

March is the month of the Irish! Stop by on March 3 from 1-3pm, meet Carol Martin and view her wonderful photographs of current day Ireland. We also have showcases that house Irish musical instruments and other artifacts created in Ireland,Carol Martin,Irish,Ireland

Les Malamut Art Gallery would like to thank the following sponsors:

Maser Engineering

Connect 1 Bank

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield

Bayonne Community Bank

County of Union

Robbins Agency

Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick of Union County

Galloping Hill Caterers

Kaluystan Foods

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The History Behind the Houses

Intrigued by some of buildings in the current exhibit by Wolf Kretlow, I did some research into their history.

The Fanwood train station

Fanwood-trainstation

In 1874, the Central Railroad of NJ embarked on a program of track repair and rebuilding. In the process, the railroad relocated the track west of Westfield to its present route. A new Victorian Gothic station was built and the commuter stop was named Fanwood. The structure is now the Fanwood Railroad Station Museum and is operated by the borough of Fanwood’s Historic Preservation committee.

Woodruff farmhouse, Hillside

18thcentury-woodruff-farmhouse-hillside

In the late 1700’s, Hillside was home to two large settlements, Lyon’s Farms on the north side and Woodruff’s Farms on the south. The area settled by the Woodruff family became known as Saybrook by the late 19th century. The Woodruff House/Eaton Store provides a look at an 18th century farmhouse and an early 20th century neighborhood store.

Connecticut Farms Church

Located in the township of Union, the current structure was erected after June 8, 1780 when the retreating British and Hessian troops pillaged and ransacked the town, shot Rev. Caldwell’s wife at the Parsonage, and burned most of the buildings, including the original church. In 1970, the church and cemetery were designated as an historic site – the first in New Jersey to be listed in the Register of Historic Places.

Elizabethtown

Before there was the current day city of Elizabeth, there was Elizabethtown. Founded in 1664, it had the distinction of being New Jersey’s first English settlement and the first seat of colonial government. The settlement was developed by the Elizabethtown Associates, a group who purchased a large tract of land that include all of what is now known as Union and Essex Counties. In 1857, the state legislature created NJ’s last county when it declared Union County an entity separate from Essex County, with the now city of Elizabeth named as its county seat. The city has a great architectural heritage, with many buildings dating from pre Revolutionary era, to Victorian Gothic structures, a beautiful train station (the railroad line no longer operational) and many churches of different styles and eras.

Rahway Theatre

Rahway-theatre

Originally a “vaudeville palace” then a movie theatre, the Rahway Theatre is now at the centerpiece of the downtown arts area. Great acts like Kenny Rogers have performed there. A recent restoration brought it back to its original Victorian grandeur. The theater is listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places and is now operating as a multi-purpose venue for the performing arts. For a delightful history of the “Old Rahway Theater” visit the Union County Performing Arts Center website

Liberty Hall Museum, Union

Liberty-hall-Museum

This complex of buildings is the most significant 18th century residence in the township of Union. Built in 1772 it was the home of William Livingston, the first elected governor of NJ. He served from the outset of the Revolution until 1790. Liberty Hall Museum is in partnership with Kean University to facilitate development of a landmark on-site educational center devoted to early American History. For an extensive history, visit Wikipidia’s website

Many thanks goes to Union County’s booklet “In and About Union County” for the information in this blog.

Virtual Galleries

Since we have been closed for repairs/renovation, I’m giving a lot of thought to “virtual galleries” because we’ve chosen to continue to display on our website the artwork of the artist whose show was cut short. Many of these virtual galleries exist in cyberspace where art is displayed only in the 2D world of your computer screen. Are these a good substitute for the bricks and mortar gallery?

Many galleries, the Les Malamut Art Gallery included, not only have a physical space but also a website where a sample of each exhibit artist’s work is posted. Basically, these types of virtual galleries are promotional “teasers” showing only a few pieces, hoping to entice the viewer to come in and see the “real” ones. However, over the last few years, with the advent of high definition flat screen displays, many virtual galleries have popped up on the internet that have no space in the physical world.

That got me to thinking: can a virtual, internet only based, gallery do justice to a work of art? Well, virtual galleries have existed prior to the internet in the form of high quality glossy art books. Once printing techniques and cost went down, these books proliferated the art market and allowed anyone to be able to view historical or current art works from the comfort of their home. The internet based ones of today are no different. But the question that needs to be examined is whether artwork viewed in a flat environment, not the environment the artist intended it to be viewed in, really does justice to the piece. After all, we see things in stereoscopic 3D, not flat on paper or pixels on a screen. 

As an example, I recall my experience with a piece of art that I love dearly a large one from the “Water Lilies” series by Claude Monet (you can read all about his life and work on Wikipedia). All my life, the only versions of it that I had viewed were small printed copies. Then I had a chance to see it on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. I was floored by the size (never realized it was that large) and the fact that I was standing IN FRONT OF IT IN PHYSICAL SPACE! Of course, I couldn’t touch it but I was there, it was there, it was the real thing and I could get close enough to see his brush strokes! Now tell me, can anyone have that experience viewing a work of art on a computer screen? 

However, even though a virtual gallery can’t really do justice to the physical presence of a work of art, it has its place. It helps people get an overview of an artist’s body of work (and, as an artist, I’m grateful I can have such a presence with my website), for those who physically can’t go to great museums and galleries it gives them the opportunity to experience what is happening in the art world from the comforts of home. And lastly, it is a way for artists to cheaply and conveniently promote their artwork, which in this economic climate is definitely a plus.

So I’d like to hear you weigh in on this. What has been your best and worse virtual gallery experiences. Would you like to see more of them or are you of the old school, where standing in front of a work of art in a gallery is the only way you want to experience art?
                           “Painting With Words” – Leona M Seufert

Pastel Painting

What are “pastels”?
The name pastel comes from the French word pastiche, meaning a work of art. In the art world, pastel refers not to pale colors, but to bright, durable sticks of pigment used to make paintings. Made of pigment and a binder, which converts a dry powdery pigment into a moist lump, thus forming sticks that are then baked. Being a compressed pigment, they will adhere easily to any paper that has a tooth or texture. When cared for properly, pastel paintings last indefinitely.

Pastels are the most permanent artistic medium that exists and are more permanent than other art mediums (oils, watercolors etc) especially when properly framed. This is because pastels have no liquid blinder that can cause other media to darken, fade, yellow, crack or blister over time.  Pastel artworks from the 16th century still exist today, showing the longevity of this medium. Art materials expert Ralph Mayer author of The Artist’s Handbook wrote, “Framed under glass and given the care that any work of art normally receives, (pastel) portraits of the 1750 period have come down to us as bright and fresh as the day they were painted.”

A number of great masters including Delacroix, Millet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, and Whistler produced their great works using pastel.  Edgar Degas pushed the envelope of pastel painting and changed the reputation of the medium from a pale medium to a sketching tool into a major artistic medium.

A brief history of Pastel art ( from Wikipedia )
The pastel medium was first mentioned by Leonardo da Vinci in 1495.
Artists such as Maurice Quentin de La Tour and Rosalba Carriera have been using pastels to create masterpieces as far back as 1703.During the 18th century the medium became fashionable for portrait painting, sometimes in a mixed technique with gouache.
In the United States, initially pastels only had occasional use in portraiture. However in the late nineteenth century, pastel (like watercolor) became more popular. The Society of Painters in Pastel was founded in 1885. The Pastellists, led by Leon Dabo, organized in New York in 1910.

Some Famous Pastel artists:
 Rosalba_Carriera_Self-portrait
Rosalba Carriera, Self-portrait holding a portrait of her sister, 1715, pastel on paper; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
 
Maurice Quentin de La Tour, a bravura pastel portrait of Louis XV, 1748
 Chardin_pastel_selfportrait
Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin. Self Portrait, in pastel, 1771, The Louvre
 Edgar_Germain_Hilaire_Degas
Edgar Degas, La Toilette (Woman Combing Her Hair), c. 1884–1886, pastel on paper, Pushkin Museum, Moscow
 Cassatt_Mary_Sleepy_Baby_1910
Mary Cassatt, Sleepy Baby, 1910
 Flowers_in_a_Green_Vase_by_Leon_Dabo
Leon Dabo, Flowers in a Green Vase, c. 1910s, pastel

Contemporary Patel Art
Mary Cassatt introduced the Impressionists and pastel medium to her friends in Philadelphia and Washington, and helped popularize both in the USA. Whistler produced a quantity of pastels around 1880, including a body of work relating to Venice, and this probably contributed to the growing enthusiasm for the medium.

Most contemporary amateur and professional pastel artists trace their roots to 19th century French impressionists, especially Edgar Degas. Degas took his pastel work very seriously, developing his own fixative allowing him to paint over previously painted surfaces. His figures were often lit from below and painted while the subject was singing or dancing. He frequently employed underpainting in watercolor to intensify the light catching effects of dry pastels. Modern notable artists who have worked extensively in pastels include Fernando Botero, Francesco Clemente, Daniel Greene, Wolf Kahn, and R. B. Kitaj.

Today’s dry stick, Conté crayon, oil pastel, and pencil pastels now form an aesthetic and technical bridge between drawing and painting.
                                 “Painting With Words” – Leona M Seufert

Shadow Box Art – Creating a Tiny Universe In a Box

Shadow box artists create unique little universes in their boxes. It is an old art form where objects, both two and three dimensional, are placed within a box that is designed to display them. One side is open to allow the viewer to see this small tableau. Also, it doesn’t have to be a box, but any container that can hold a collection of objects.

One thing about shadow box art is that artists love to collect objects that when put together present a surprise to the viewer. However, shadow boxes are also created for other reasons:

As a gift for a special occasion, award presentation, or as a commemorative, containing items relating to an occasion such as a wedding, anniversary, graduation, job promotion or the birth of a baby. The objects grouped together have some personal meaning to the receiver of the gift.

Used as a way to display a collection of like items such as marbles, shot glasses, thimbles, etc into a showcase frame.

Miniature room boxes are used to create cute realistic representations of a room. These boxes are often 12″ square and inside the box a scene is created in miniature.

Then there is the naval shadow box from which this art form had its beginnings.

According to some accounts of naval history and tradition, when a sailor retires and is departing the ship for the last time, it’s considered bad luck for the sailor’s shadow to touch land before he does. Thus, the sailor’s shipmates would construct a sturdy box, hand-crafted of the finest materials, in which to display mementos of the sailor’s accomplishments – thereby symbolically creating a “shadow” of the sailor. The box safely contains the sailor’s “shadow” until he is safely ashore, at which time the shadow box can be given to the sailor in a presentation ceremony.

Another account has it that, when a sailor would join a ship’s crew, he would join that ship for his entire career. During the sailor’s voyages to ports of call around the world, he would collect many trinkets, souvenirs, and reminders of his travels. As space aboard ship was at a premium, these items tended to be small. When the sailor went ashore for the last time, his shipmates saw to it that a special ceremonial box was constructed for him. The box would hold all the possessions that had been collected during those many voyages, and would simultaneously symbolize the sailor’s career and time aboard ship.

We are also familiar with the military one where an American flag is placed inside a triangular shadow box to symbolize that the country has benefited from the faithful service of the deceased. This is then given to the soldier’s family.
Police departments and fire departments use shadow boxes in considerably the very same way the military does. On retirement they are normally presented as a symbol of their dedication and outstanding service.

Not just an art form but a tiny stage to hold a universe of memories, shadow boxes enchanted the Victorians, the Surrealists, and continue to enchant us today. Perhaps the ultimate, 21st century “shadow box” is the 3D TV experience. Here you have all of the same components but now created in pixels of light!

  “Painting With Words” – Leona M Seufert

Capturing Dance

Dance is poetry in motion, emotions given form, an art that exists both in space AND time. Modern artists and photographers delight in having dancers for their subject matter. Just check out our current exhibit by Mansa K Mussa  and you can see how the modern artistic eye doesn’t just create a static painting or photograph of dancers but tries to enhance the entire visual experience with images that tell a story.

Native Americans and the cultures of the Indian subcontinent always have had a colorful, powerful, dance tradition. However, our western dance was not always colorful or packed with motion. But as societies changed, as music changed, so did dance. And that opened the floodgates for artists to try to capture what now a video camera can so easily do. But is modern video as emotionally packed as an artist’s rendition of a dancer’s routine?

Here are some famous artists who took dancers as their subject matter:

Toulouse-Lautrec 1864- 1901


He is famous for his paintings of Can-Can dancers at the Moulin Rouge. At the Moulin Rouge is an oil-on-canvas painting painted between 1892 and 1895. It is one of a number of works by Toulouse-Lautrec depicting the Moulin Rouge cabaret which was built in Paris in 1889. (for his bio http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_de_Toulouse-Lautrec)

Henri Matisse, 1869- 1954

“Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture…”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Matisse)
He did 3 works that deal with the subject of dancers each repeating the same composition as in La Danse but altering the colors and the style somewhat. Wickipedia’s entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dance_(painting) gives a good description of all three.

Edgar Degas


“A French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. A superb draftsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half of his works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes.”
“From 1870 Degas increasingly painted ballet subjects, partly because they sold well and provided him with needed income after his brother’s debts had left the family bankrupt.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Degas

 Marc Chagall 1887 – 1985

 “Chagall was a Russian-French artist associated with several major artistic styles and one of the most successful artists of the 20th century. He was an early modernist, and created works in virtually every artistic medium, including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints.”
“He had two basic reputations, writes Lewis: as a pioneer of modernism and as a major Jewish artist. He experienced modernism’s ‘golden age’ in Paris, where ‘he synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism, and the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism’” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Chagall

Louis Kronberg

Called the American Degas for his portraits of ballerinas, Kronberg was born in Boston, and studied at the Boston Museum School, under Edmund C. Tarbell and Frank Weston Benson, where he earned a Longfellow Traveling Scholarship. Kronberg also studied at the Art Students’ League, New York, and at the Académie Julian (1894–1896) under Jean-Paul Laurens and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, and privately with Raphaël Collin. In Paris, Kronberg became enamored with the works of Edgar Degas and proficiently painted ballet and Spanish dancers within theatre settings.

For capturing the dance, artists also had their “muses”. As we can see, ballet dancers were an inspiration for many artists. Their poses, costumes and choreographed movements inspired lively, yet socially sanctioned views of the female dancer. Then along came Isadora Duncan with her “modern” dance breaking all the rules. During her career, all the arts were reaching out in new directions, searching for new and exciting forms of expression and inspiration and they found that inspiration in Isadora Duncan. Painters and artists of all media worked diligently to catch Isadora‘s essence through the movement of her dance, while photographers sought to capture her moving mercurial image on film. Max Eastman said, “It was never easy to coax Isadora Duncan into a photographer’s studio. Like a wild and wise animal, she fled from those who sought to capture the essence of her — which was motion — by making her stand still.”

In the 21st century dance and artistic mediums have radically changed from Toulouse-Lautrec’s and Degas’ time. But one thing hasn’t changed, the artist’s desire to capture a subject that is mercurial, beautiful, and loaded with emotion. Dancers will continue to be artists’ muses and inspire creative works as they always have.
                     “Painting With Words” – Leona M Seufert