Arts Guild New Jersey presents ROAD TRIP: MY AMERICA, an exhibition exploring America through the creative viewpoints of eleven artists. The show will be held at 1670 Irving Street, Rahway, New Jersey. The exhibition opens with a free, public reception on Sunday, February 12, 1:00-4:00 PM, and runs through March 15, 2012. Gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays, 1:00-4:00 PM, and during regular office hours on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. The exhibit is wheelchair accessible.
Participating artists include: Susan Marie Brundage (PA), Walter Chandoha (Annandale, NJ), Don Edler (Brooklyn, NY), William Graef (NY, NY), Neal Korn (Union, NJ), Marianne McCarthy (Brooklyn, NY), Nancy Ori (Berkeley Heights, NJ), Hannah Rappleye (Brooklyn, NY), Rocco Scary (NJ), Robin Stein (Seattle, WA), and Sue Zwick (Summit, NJ).
In the last century, traveling by back road and interstate has been one of the most popular ways of seeing destinations throughout the United States. “In much the same way a true American road trip links together national landmarks, roadside attractions, and cultural hotspots over the course of many miles, ROAD TRIP: MY AMERICA weaves together a number of uniquely American themes”, says curator Rachael Faillace.
Touching on everything from roadside architecture to the concept of the American Dream, ROAD TRIP: MY AMERICA examines America from a variety of sometimes contradictory perspectives.
Walter Chandoha’s photographs of New York City show a historic and now perhaps sentimental view of America in the 1950’s. After the close of WWII, Chandoha roamed the streets of New York as a college student, capturing the sights and sounds of city life in photographs that still resonate with us today.
Rocco Scary shows “Bye, Bye My Coney Island Baby”, a sculptural work made of handmade paper and wood, and “Coney Island Souvenir Book”, a small book of handmade paper. Both pieces reference the billboards, posters, and hand-painted signage from Coney Island’s boardwalk and speak of a bygone era.
By contrast, Don Edler turns a critical eye on consumerism in modern American society in his piece “Fast, Cheap and…What do I stand for?” A video monitor replaces the stars of an American flag constructed out of drywall. The screen scrolls through TV commercials hawking automobiles and fast food. Edler describes the piece as “an attempt at understanding what drives middle class America”.
Susan Marie Brundage paints landscapes of rural America, but skips over the pastoral scenes of rolling fields and farmland, opting instead to paint mobile homes, highway signage, and r.v. parks. Brundage is interested in sensitizing viewers to “the social realities that exist around them, even though they represent something most Americans would rather ignore.”
Robin Stein shows photographs from his series “Trace” recording a move from West to East Coast. This exploration retraces in reverse the routes of passages used through the early frontier of the Northwest Territory. Stein calls it “an exercise exploring the discontinuity between expectations and the in situ experience of a place.” In this context, his photographs depict odd landmarks and forgotten places chronicling his cross-country expedition.
Sue Zwick shows photographs taken during return trips ‘home’ to Herrin, IL, the hometown of her husband and his family. Paying homage to this small Mid-western town, Zwick’s images memorialize familiar landmarks and a way of life that changed slowly over 40 years.
Marianne McCarthy’s Modern Stone Age series makes use of unusual perspectives of a theme park attraction based on The Flintstones, a popular television cartoon from the 1960’s. A flying raptor, crumbling concrete and steel palm tree, and ‘bedrock’ mound stand out against a vivid blue sky in these panoramic photographs.
Nancy Ori’s photographs depict scenes from the American Southwest. Ori ‘s keen eye composes thoughtful juxtapositions of imagery and content. In one picture, a door decorated with painted hand prints frames the American flag that hangs in its windows. A sticker pasted to the glass is of a Native American man and says, “Man Belongs to the Earth, The Earth Does Not Belong to Man”.
Neal Korn’s “Liberty Bell” illustrates an American icon of freedom drawn from various unique perspectives, giving the impression that the bell is ringing. He shows two other collaged drawings of landmarks from unusual points-of-view: The Orioles baseball stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, and a Civil War-era cannon war memorial in Union, New Jersey.
Looking closely at William Graef’s “Tread” sculpture series, the familiar salutations “Welcome to…”or “Greetings from…” America’s tourist destinations can be seen. Using fragments of torn truck tires, Graef stamps and imprints the bold, illustrated lettering from vintage postcards into the rubber treads. He addresses the concept of ‘the road’ both literally and figuratively in his use of materials and imagery.
Hannah Rappleye looks squarely at the concept of the American Dream in her photography series by the same name. Ten photos taken in Washington D.C. on the same day capture two demonstrations with very different agendas.
For more information on the exhibition or gallery, call 732-381-7511 or visit www.agnj.org. A catalog for the exhibition will be available at the Arts Guild during and following the opening reception.