Straube Center in the News

Friday, September 15, 2006
Special to the Times

New venue debuts with a varied group show

Businessman Win Straube arrived in Pennington in 1975 looking for a suitable place to base his international business. He found Cointreau Distilleries, built as a foundry at the turn of the last century.

According to the manager of the property, Winn Thompson, the renovated high-tech campus is now home to about 50 offices and the Cambridge School, which has been in operation two years.

"Win Straube is an art collector," says Thompson. "He knows artists from all around and he decided to bring in international artists and artists involved here to exhibit."

The idea took root in early spring and Thompson says they put the gears in motion over the summer. Works by eight international, regional and local artists were shipped in and hung in the halls and meeting rooms of the original building and the Cambridge School and can now be seen by the public.

Space here doesn't permit more than a comment about each artist, but following is an overview of what visitors can expect to see:

Roberta DeSantis is showing black and white paintings of people. Among portraits, there is a painting of a man holding two children up so they can see an army tank. Another depicts a family gathering where men in T-shirts, a woman in a housedress and a tiny child are picnicking at a table outside.

Susan Ewart, known for her watercolor paintings of local landmarks, has on display "Wilson Road Barn, Hopewell Township," showing the barn set in a snowy landscape. The "John Ferry House" is seen on a summer's day and "Burd Street Tree, Pennington" is a portrait of the old tree standing in a bed of blooming purple crocuses, an event locals look forward to seeing each year.

Bob Lola is showing still-life oil paintings of multicolor bottles and fruits and vegetables. He also has on display a group of five nature scenes. Among them is a fenced pasture that seems to be meandering lazily along, an old shed keeping vigil on top of a hill and cows grazing contentedly.

German artist Günter Johne is displaying a large group of etchgraphs. Most measure about 4 by 5 inches but are framed wide mats. Some suggest landscape, some rock precipices, some are simply thinly laid colors. Many are done in earth tones and some of the larger ones are in reds and blacks.

Rider University professor of art Harry I. Naar is represented by two watercolor paintings and six of his signature-style large pen-and-ink drawings. Included are his pen-and-ink rocks and water, dunes, beach grasses and rolling clouds. Those who are less familiar with his watercolor paintings will enjoy looking down over a tiny village nestled in trees in Florence, Italy, and yellow daylilies and yellow pears sunning themselves on a windowsill.

Award-winning photographer David J. Simchock takes visitors all over the world in his display of approximately 50 images. One wall is given to color portraits, another is architectural details, such as "New Jersey State House Dome" and "State House Columns." Simchock, who says he looks at life as a journey, not a destination, has images in this exhibit that range from "Majestic Views of Yellowstone National Park" to "The Inca Terraces at Machu Piccho, Sacred Valley, Peru." He's captured one white duckling lying in a gathering of dozens of yellow ducklings and the feet of a blue-footed boobie. There is also a large group of images of boats he has seen from Australia to Vietnam, Nepal and beyond.

Charlotte Sommer-Landgraf is a computer graphics artist presenting a large body of her work. Each one is a separate abstraction. Some incorporate geometric shapes, others bring to mind textiles. Strands of color and light seem to be woven, dangling fringelike, colors seeping.

Art therapist Tina Montagna-Tate, who works in the Hopewell Valley school system, has on display a group of her black-and-white photographs. One is a detail shot of a satin, beaded and lace garment that seems to have been casually cast aside. Another is a portrait of an elderly woman whose tracery of wrinkles speaks of her long life experience. And another is the same woman's hands resting on a patterned tablecloth as she holds a small piece of paper between her gnarled fingers.

Running along with the exhibition is a "name the graphics" contest. The original computer graphics by Sommer-Landraf and the 24 etchgraphs by Johne are from Straube's personal collection. They are untitled and have never before been exhibited. According to Thompson, the person who submits the most names judged to be the most appropriate will win $100.

The local art scene is always happy to welcome a new exhibition space and this one promises to be one where shows of merit will be there for the public to enjoy.

One Straube Center Blvd • Pennington, NJ 08534 • Phone: 609-737-3322 • E-mail:
Straube Center Boulevard surrounded by Route 31, West Franklin Ave., Knowles Ave.-Bixby’s Way, and Broemel Place