"Fine Arts: Must-see exhibit in Trenton"

By Janet Purcell | For The Times of Trenton
on May 10, 2017 at 7:00 AM, updated May 10, 2017 at 7:08 AM

"Three Vases" by Joanne Donnelly.Courtesy photo 

The Ellarslie Open is mid-New Jersey's premier juried art exhibition.  It's been happening for 34 years and for the last five the co-curators have been Carol Hill and Carolyn Stetson.

"Each has had a distinctive flavor," they say as they congenially discuss the shows.  "That depends on the juror and it's why we get different jurors every year and from away so they will not recognize the work of our local artists."

"I was excited to see complex and traditional craft as well as experimental and sometimes lighthearted entries," says Juror Lora S. Urbanelli, Director, Montclair Art Museum in her catalog statement.

Curators Hill and Stetson and their volunteers took Urbanelli's selections, put them up and moved them around to see what worked best with what and, as always, came up with an exhibit displayed with a coherence that captures the eye and holds viewers' interest.

For example, in the Malloy Gallery you'll find a black and white digital print, "Out of Service" by Marc Winans showing a long line of train cars parked in snow near other empty tracks.  Nearby is Morris Dockor's black ad white charcoal "Diagonal Slash" where another train with its long line of cars is poised next to another set of empty tracks.  Both images capture the power temporarily stilled.

Also in that room is Claudia Waters' brightly colored energetic oil painting, "Two-figure Dive" where two legs and feet can be seen not yet submerged with the rest of the red- and blue-clad body in the swirling turquoise water.  Very dissimilar in style and content is Maryann Ficker's oil painting, "Howie and Me," showing a man asleep on a couch, a window reflection of the artist at her easel and a quiet night view outside.  The splashing energy of Waters' painting and the peaceful rest in that of Ficker balance one another.

The assortment of works in the museum's entry hall is eclectic.  It ranges from Nancy Taylor's fanciful Broken Dish Mosaic, "Basket of Flowers, to Derek Jecxz's peaceful photograph, "Dusk Stream," John Gummere's "State Street Winter," to Trisha Vergis' "Giant Avocados" a strong still life that was awarded Best In Show. 

But step into the large double gallery and immediately on your right is a wall of black and white works that, again, are different in style, but cohesive in tone and artists' abilities.  Pay particular attention to the ways two different artists use the same medium--charcoal.  There is Anne Gannon's "May Murray," a beautifully done portrait in soft realism.  Displayed next to it is Maurice Gallmidi's "Woman," a large drawing of lines, curves and triangles.

Another section includes various paintings of barns and buildings, and another, works focusing on women.

Interspersed with the groupings in this gallery are singular works that act as exclamation marks.  One such is Nelly Kiouzmina's felted wool "Winter Magic" where white birches stand in snow against a blue-black landscape and sky.   And positioned by a window is Eric Schultz's found object metal sculpture, "Phoenix" where the large bird curves as if proudly protecting a nest of three shiny eggs.

In Beatrice Bork's watercolor/gouache painting, "Over Here," a few steps away, an expertly rendered Carolina Wren calls out to be noticed too.  While across the room Elizabeth Oberman's watercolor, "Winter Blues" sends out a melodic call as a street musician fingers the keys on his saxophone. 

Other artistic gems in that room, Beth Gross's haunting tintype, "In Memoriam," Amber Palecek's whimsical "Slice of Earth Pie" and Sean Carney's wood stain "Look Forward" would take too many words to describe adequately here, put do treat yourself and seek them out in the exhibit.

Other treasures you should not miss there are Patti Brandeis' "Young Apprentice," a magical drawing in charcoal, graphite, carbon and paint pen.  And Lisa Kennedy's exquisite pencil drawing, "Looking Glass."

Outstanding in the Green Room is Pat Proniewski's "Georgic: Patterson Farm II" where light breaking through dark heavy clouds illuminates the white farm buildings and sienna landscape below.  And Chong-Sun Oh's "Man With Leather Jacket" oil portrait is also all about light.  In this, light lies on the profile, chest and black leather jacket worn by thedark haired, bearded man. 

The hallway and two front rooms upstairs are also filled with great art.  You'll be greeted in the hallway by Peter Stefferson's steel "Mary Jane's High Chair, No. 3," with a cat coming out of an antique horn behind the backrest bearing the image of a cannabis leaf and horseshoes foot rests.

Turn to the room on your right and your eyes will be immediately drawn to John Piccoli's large bright acrylic, "Women's Choice" presenting a woman lying on a striped beach rug complacently holding a white egg while gulls hover.  But don't miss John Ennis' beautifully done "Red Apples" and Charles David Viera's pastel, "Decision Time For Red," where a red car bears down on a red fox in the road.

Across the hall spend time with Aubrey J. Kauffman's archival print, "42245-C" in which an amber building stands alone.  The repetition of squares, rectangles, straight lines make it a peaceful scene broken only by the stark black 42425-C on the building's facade.

Display cases offer one-of-a-kind objets d'art such as Fran Leyenberger's raku, clay and driftwood "Drifting Urn," Janis Blayne Paul's carved natural stone, "Rothschild - The Most Endangered Species" and Laurel Daunis-Allen's uniquely presented two small square oil paintings in one rectangular frame, "On the Damariscotta."

A graceful digital print by Mary Leck is "Tulip Memory" displayed so well near Judith Hummer's "Goin' with the Flow," an alcohol ink and watercolor color painting that has a sparkle all its own.

Janis Purcell's (no relative of this writer) "Out of the Forest Primeval" constructed of wool, concrete beads and porcupine quills in one showcase is a good counterbalance to Spriha Gupta's delicate and graceful "Allure," an enchanting work of art.

There are so many more works that deserve recognition but limited space here to discuss them. Not only did juror Urbanelli select with a sure and discerning eye, curators Carol Hill and Carolyn Stetson, who made display decisions, have presented an exhibit worthy of the highest accolades.


WHAT:  Ellarslie Open 34.

WHERE:  Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie, Cadwalader Park.

WHEN:  Through June 25.  Hours: noon to 4 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.  Closed Monday, Tuesday and major holidays. 

CONTACT:  609-989-1131.


Article "Mixing It Right" by staff writer Gwen Shrift published in the Bucks County Courier Times April 9, 2017

Georgic South River Road Lambertville Sept 2016 001.JPG

Honored to have been included in the article which reviewed the "Artists of Yardley Sixth Juried Exhibit" written by staff writer Gwen Shrift for the Courier Times/Intelligencer. The article, which included an image of my painting above "Georgic: South River Road, Lambertville" appeared in both the online version of the intell and the print version of the Courier Times.  


Ms. Shrift wrote: 

"Pat Proniewski strikes a visual medium in an engaging and serene oil on board study of a red barn in the snow, "Georgic: South River Road, Lambertville,"...

Best shots of American Beauty March 2017 017.JPG



Award Received March 2017

Honored to have received a "Meritorius Award" for my painting "American Beauty" (pictured below) which was part of the 2017 Richeson 75 Still Life and Floral Online Competition.  The painting was submitted to the international call for entries, and will be published in the book "2017 Richeson 75 Still Life and Floral Competition."  "American Beauty" is an 18" X 24" oil on gessobord and was painted from direct observation.  

Best shots of American Beauty March 2017 013.JPG


First Place Award Received


"Who Paints the Earth?"

9" x 12" oil on gessobord

Awarded by judge, Patricia Hutton, of  Patricia Hutton Galleries, Doylestown, PA. 

At the Arts & Cultural Council Of Bucks County, PA exhibit "The Four Elements: Earth, Water, Air & Fire" May, 2017. 

The painting was sold at the event. 

First Place Award Professional Division For Oil Medium Received


"Georgic: Patterson Farm II"

12" x 16" oil on gessobord


At the "Mercer County Senior Art Exhibit" Meadow Lakes, Hightstown, NJ

 July, 2017. 

The painting was sold prior to the event. 

First Place Award


"Overcast: Yet the Spirea"

6" x 8" casein on gessobord

At the "Willingboro Art Alliance Landscape Show" Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ

 July, 2017. 

The painting is available. 


The Carmen Altopiedi Memorial Award for Traditional Fine Arts for "Georgic: South River Road, Lambertville," at the Willingboro Art Alliance 22nd Annual Open Juried Exhibition, Mt. Holly, NJ. 

October 14, 2017. 

16" x 20" Oil on gessobord. The painting is available.


Georgic South River Road Lambertville Sept 2016 001.JPG



The 2nd Place Award was given to "Carrion" at the Artists of Yardley 7th Annual Juried Show, Yardley, PA. April 6, 2018. 

The 3rd Place Award was also given to “Carrion” at the Willingboro Art Alliance 23rd Annual Open Juried Exhibition at the Dr. David Flinker Gallery Virtua Memorial Hospital, Mt Holly, NJ. October 20, 2018.

16" x 20" Oil on gessobord. The painting is available.

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