A mural by Jennifer Levine at 180 Glenridge Ave. Courtesy Jennifer Levine.

‘Soul Portraits’
Wednesday, July 5, and
Thursday, July 6, 6-9 p.m.

Creativity Caravan
28 South Fullerton Ave.

thecreativitycaravan.com
email hello@thecreativitycaravan.com, or call 201-259-9801
jlevinestudio.com, peacegardenproject.com

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

We say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

People talk about internal beauty: Jennifer Levine can see it.

And she can draw it.

JENNIFER LEVINE

The Montclair artist, who works as director of education at Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains, will be creating “soul portraits,” ink drawings that capture a person’s essence, at Creativity Caravan on Wednesday, July 5, and Thursday, July 6.

“The truth is, everybody wants their beauty and spirit to be seen,” said Levine. “People get so nervous: ‘Don’t look into my soul.’”
When she tells them their soul is beautiful, “they exhale, say ‘thank God,’ and leave with a smile. It’s part of my whole mission as an artist.

“There’s so much unseen. To make the unseen manifest is really powerful.”

She credits 10 years of Transcendental Meditation with her ability to do soul portraits. “It helped me get present and relaxed, and tap in to the internal in myself. Then I can intuit the internal in the other person. People always feel very seen, and happy with the project.
“In the exchange, a sort of magic happens.”

Her drawings coincide with a show of her work at Creativity Caravan through the month of July. Also at Creativity Caravan will be “The Anarchy of Emotion,” photographs by Glen Ridge’s Walter Oliver.

ART PARK MONTCLAIR
Levine asks for donations, of $1 to $100, for the soul portraits. The donations will be used to help found Art Park Montclair.

“Montclair right now has a lot of cultural institutions, but it’s also a mecca for shopping and eating. I would like to offer an art environment in addition to that, to draw people in.” Being in a park, Levine said, can “ignite their own imaginations. It’s a place to play, for grownups and kids, a gathering space for events, a venue for art.” Just like a public park, she said, the idea is that anyone can walk in, sit down and enjoy it.

The location of the park is still being determined, Levine said.

“Our goal is to raise $40,000 by getting as many people to donate whatever they can. Everybody that donates will have their name on a mural. The goal is to make Art Park a community project, from grass roots.” Even if there were one or two donors who could front all the money, Levine said, she would rather have the funds to create the oasis of greenery and art “represent the diversity and complexity of Montclair.”

A link to donate is on the home page of peacegardenproject.com.

A collective of artists is creating the project, including Montclair’s Elizabeth Jacobs, who will create the benches on which Levine will paint.

Levine is also a puppeteer, and in time would love to see a free marionette theater, like

‘Three Queens’ by Montclair artist Jennifer Levine will be on display at Creativity Caravan in July.

those she has seen at Luxembourg Gardens and in Paris. “That would be the dream,” said the artist. “Not just for me, but to have all sorts of busker performances.”

Levine is not new to murals: her work can be seen at the Montclair Community Pre-K and Bradford Elementary School, and on Glenridge Avenue.

She describes her work as “neo-outsider,” in the vein of folk art. “I’m self taught,” she said. “I use this great paint called milk paint that I get from Verdigreen in Montclair. It’s nontoxic. I will paint the whole Art Park with it. It’s also environmentally friendly.”
“There’s a huge tradition of art parks all around the world. My favorite is in Barcelona. I saw it 20 years ago, and knew I had to create something like that eventually.”

She imagines Art Park as “beautiful, visually stunning.

“Montclair deserves it, just like all the other great cities of the world.”

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