Straube Center in the News

Artist Nikki Addeo goes back to basics, gets Straube Center show

By R. Kurt Osenlund, Pennington Post

The illustrator and designer is rediscovering her passion for old-fashioned fine arts, and next month, theStraube Center will unveil her first gallery show.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is quit your job. Or, at least, sometimes quitting your job – a prospect that strikes fear into the hearts of many – can allow you to better pursue the passions you may have lost sight of while working your 9-to-5.

Nikki Addeo, a 27-year-old illustrator and graphic designer from Langhorne, Pa., wasn’t doing anything she hated – she was working in her field. In fact, for two years she designed print ads and online ad banners for Journal Register Company, the very same media company that owns the Pennington Post. But recently, Addeo, who holds a Bachelor’s in illustration from Syracuse University, left her position for a handful of reasons, chief among them the feeling that she’d back-burnered her passion.

“I went into graphic design because that’s where the money is,” Addeo says. “I slowly strayed from fine arts to do graphics and advertising. I finally gave it up in May.”

Since she gave it up, Addeo has poured herself into Lazy Rabbit Studio, the name given to her back-to-basics brand of hand-drawn (and inked, and colored) illustrations. Working as a freelance illustrator and designer out of her home (as well as at a part-time job to make ends meet), Addeo specializes in the use of gel pens, watercolor, marker, ink and even whiteout. She’s tremendously talented, and not long ago, she was offered her first exhibition at the Straube Center office complex in Pennington. The show is set to open Sept. 3.

“It’s my first show, and I’m almost 30, so it’s about time,” Addeo says. “I’m excited.”

Addeo, who was contacted by the Straube Center’s edgy new curator, Alisandra Wederich, will have 15 pieces featured in the exhibition, which will also include other artists. Addeo’s selections will showcase her admiration for animals, which she renders in wild, vivid colors and with bold, expressive lines.

“I’ve always stayed away from [depicting] people,” Addeo says. “I feel like it’s overdone and cliché. I think animals are representative of parts of nature that everyone passes over. I think there’s so much to animals that people don’t really look at or appreciate. I try to bring that out.”

Among her influences, Addeo names Ralph Steadman, the British cartoonist long associated with the late author Hunter S. Thompson. Like Steadman, Addeo favors the repeated use of hair-thin black lines to emphasize contour and provide value. The line, Addeo says, is what gives her pieces a unique balance of the serene and the turbulent.

“It’s such a fundamental element,” Addeo says. “It’s where everything comes together. It’s almost like sculpting with the pen. On one hand, it’s very meditative and precise, and on the other, there’s a sort of anger and frustration – the release of letting that precision go. And when that happens, I get a mark that’s completely unique, that I didn’t plan out.”

Regarding her upcoming show, which is set to run through October, Addeo says she’s loking forward to not only showing her work, but testing the waters.

“I think the show is really going to be a test to see if I should continue in the gallery art direction as opposed to graphics and advertising,” Addeo says. “It will depend on what sells. I think that’s the battle everybody has: Doing something that brings money in versus something that truly makes you happy.”

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