The Place Called Home
Through April 10
Featuring the work of Stephen Adubato, Peter Allen, Sandra Anton, Francesca Azzara, Teela Banker, Siona Benjamin, Howard Berelson, Judith Carlin, Virginia Carroll, Susan Fidlon, Vanessa Gonzalez, Kate Hamilton, Robert Hendrickson, Samar Hussaini, Stacy Isenbarger, Linda Johns, Maya Just Maya, Evgenia Klimenko, Joe LaMattina, Anthoula Lelekidis, Maria Lupo, Evan Stuart Marshall, Robin Meyer, Michel Modell, Anh-Thuy Nguyen, Leslie Nobler, Anabella Rainer, Joe Ren, Catherine Schmitt, Gary Sczerbaniewicz, Stephanie Spitz, Miriam Stern, Amy Tingle, Loura van der Meule, Linda Vonderschmidt-LaStella, J. Wachira, Sue Eldridge Ward, Paula Weiner, Louise Wheeler
Studio Montclair Gallery,, 127 Bloomfield Ave.
Podcast about the show on Studio Montclair website, studiomontclair.org; 862-500-1447
By GWEN OREL
One painting shows the United States, in wrapping paper. A repurposed small mailbox is full of mail; it is a sculpture suggesting travel and nostalgia at once. Colorful paintings show butterflies.
Curators Heather Carter and Mary Z. Scotti (formerly the owner of the 73 See Gallery on Pine Street) wander around the Studio Montclair Gallery on Bloomfield Avenue, holding a painting against a wall, making a mark. They stand back, and look again.
Deciding how to hang and arrange the work in “The Place Called Home” in Studio Montclair Inc.’s home is a crucial part of the process.
It was the first day the curators had seen the work in person: the artists had submitted images of their work to answer the call for submissions. And even though the dimensions of the work were included with submissions, actually seeing the size of a large painting, or a rather small sculpture, are different things.
Executive Director Susanna Baker supervises and adds suggestions.
The show, featuring the work of 37 artists, opened this past Friday, and will be on exhibit through April 10.
This show will also have a presence in the second Bounce Festival, which takes place May 29 through June 5, with a slide show, and a podcast. The Bounce Festival, titled “A festival of optimism and resilience,” will include many organizations
“The Place Called Home” will be over before the Bounce Festival, but the concept of being in a place that makes you happy, where you belong, fits in with the theme of Bounce, Baker said.
In the podcast, created by SMI member, journalist Debra Galant, artists speak about their inspiration and what home means to them. It can be heard on the Studio Montclair website, studiomontclair.org. Visitors to the Studio Montclair Gallery can also listen to the podcast as they walk through the show.
“We wanted to express what ‘home’ means to people. And for many, it’s a place of comfort and security, happiness, peace. For a lot of others, it’s more about insecurity and threat,” said Carter. Baker was interested in the idea of immigration, since it’s so much in the news, as she considered a theme for SMI’s March show.
Carter is the founder of Carter Fine Art Services, which includes art consultation, artist representation and curation. Scotti is an artist/curator of 73 See Gallery Design Studio, formerly on Pine Street, which now includes pop-up exhibitions in site-specific locations, on-line gallery exhibitions, and more.
Hundreds of art pieces were submitted. “We looked for different mediums,” Carter said. “That was important. And then I would say we looked for pieces that were visually arresting, stimulating, with different interpretations of what home means.” The show includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, collage, mixed media, of many different sizes, including some large work. Siona Benjamin, a local artist whose work is in the M.C. Hotel, was invited to participate by Carter, who also represents her through Carter Fine Art Services. Benjamin’s work in “Home Is the Place” includes a diptych, and another piece.
Some of the art shows houses, interiors. Some are more allusive. For example, “A Heart with No Walls” by Maya Just Maya shows butterflies on a map of the world.
The world map suggests freedom, finding home, being excited about new adventures, Carter said. Another painting of butterflies, in a circular board, expresses that joy in a different way.
“The Tempest Series” by Benjamin shows birds flying, looking for a new home, which also expresses joy and freedom.
“The technique is interesting. It’s called an acrylic pour. She dips the piece in all types of paint and lets it sit and then lifts it up So she never knows what it’s going to look like. That’s part of the excitement of that technique,” Carter said. Another painting titled “Bridges Pardes,” part of Benjamin’s “Exodus” series, shows people fleeing, leaving home perhaps to find another.
The mailbox sculpture, titled “A Journey Home,” by Sandra Anton, makes Carter wonder, “Who lives in that home?”
A painting of the United States being repackaged suggests reimagining what the country could be, Carter added. “But my interpretation could be very different from what the artist’s could be. I like it because I wasn’t exactly sure of the message and the meaning. It could be about the direction where America is going… a little mystery makes it more interesting.”