NEWARK—New Jersey is a little state with a big heart. Rich in history, diversity and its cultural and scenic offerings, the Garden State’s well-known sites and monuments, beautiful buildings, interesting people, ancient mountains, wide beaches, lush forests and gardens have long been documented by New Jersey artists.
Over its 120-year history, the Newark Public Library has collected the works of these artists. Selections from this collection will be on view in the Main Library’s Third Floor Gallery from Sept. 28 through Dec. 31 in “New Jersey Through Artists’ Eyes: Garden State Iconography.”
“These artists present images of New Jersey that people feel are indicative of our state,” according to Library Director Wilma Grey. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the public to enjoy some treasured prints of local and statewide interest.”
Curated by William J. Dane and Chad Leinaweaver, the exhibit features artist Helen Frank of Springfield, who was raised in Newark and Maplewood. Her artwork captures everyday life, including children walking on the Jersey shore, a busy commercial street in Newark, the vacant lot of the local Pathmark and her travels and home life with her family. “People relate to her art,” said Leinaweaver. Her work is architectural and devoted to family life. You look at it and think, my family does that!”
While Frank is known for her paintings, the Library is displaying her graphic artwork—a medium she perfected as a young mother, carving woodblocks as she watched her children play. Frank’s work is in numerous other public collections including the Library of Congress, New York Public Library and UNICEF.
The showing of Frank’s work is a paean to the artist’s 80th birthday this year, said Leinaweaver. She and other artists have been selected for capturing what to them are iconographic views of New Jersey, such as the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the Turnpike and small vegetable stands at the end of the summer, he explained.
Other highlights of the exhibit are two new photographic prints from Helen M. Stummer of Metuchen, who describes herself as a “visual sociologist.” For over 25 years, she has been photographing the struggles and dignity of poor people in Newark, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, rural Maine, and in Comalapa, Guatemala. She is the author of No Easy Walk, Newark, 1980-1993, published by Temple University Press. The book depicts her journey into the inner city and records her interaction with the residents through photographs and narrative. “Her work shows people in very dire circumstances doing ordinary things,” said Leinaweaver.
Stummer’s work has been compared to that of Jacob Riis and Dorothea Lange. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Brooklyn Museum, the Newark Museum, the Newark Library and the Museum of the City of New York, among others.
Also on view is the work of Hoboken-based artist Peter Homitzky, Joseph Konopka of Glen Ridge and former Newark municipal surveyor and photographer, Donald Farkas, with a special tribute to the late Lucille Hobbie. Born in Boonton, she taught at the Newark School for Industrial and Fine Arts, and is known for her paintings and illustrations depicting many of Morris County’s historic sites. Hobbie passed away in 2008.
The public is invited to a special program Thursday, October 8 at 2 p.m. in the Main Library’s Fourth Floor Auditorium for an overview of the exhibit presented by its curators, Dane and Leinaweaver.
The Newark Public Library is located at 5 Washington Street. New Jersey Through Artists’ Eyes: Garden State Iconography is open to the public free of charge during regular library hours. For group tours or more information about the exhibit, please call Chad Leinaweaver in the Special Collections Division at 1-973-733-7745 or log on to www.npl.org
Weequahic Section by Helen Frank, 1989. Color Etching. 2004. No. 2 in an edition of 75. Library purchase.
Jockey Hollow, Morristown, N.J., By Lucille Hobbie, ca. 1996. Lithograph. Gift of the artist, 1999.
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