Straube Center plays host to all sorts of art

Friday, July 30, 2010
By Janet Purcell
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Omnifarious Art

When: Regular office hours, through Aug. 20.

Where: The Straube Center, West Franklin Avenue and Rte. 31N, Pennington
Contact: (609) 737-3322 or (straubecenter.com/art_at_straube.php)

Most certainly, "Omnifarious Art," the title of the current exhibit at the Straube Center was aptly chosen. Although I must admit I had to look it up in the dictionary, I was happy to learn my assumption was correct.

Meaning "of all or varied kinds," it is the perfect word to describe this exhibit that fills the halls in one building and the halls and a conference room in another at the Straube Center with works in various media, reflected varied expertise and influence. That's exactly in line with the thinking of the powers that be in the Straube organization.

On display are abstract paintings by Lawrenceville artist S.L. Baker, nature scenes and florals done in oils by Liron Sissman, quilted wall hangings by the textile artists of Fiber Revolution and a diverse assortment of fresh and innovative works by the artists associated with Trenton's Homefront program.

This multifaceted exhibit is large, and visitors can spend a lot of time viewing each and every work on display. But I suggest if you have only a short time to spend, go first to Building I and enjoy the Fiber Revolution hangings and, of course, the Homefront works that are displayed in the same space.

The Fiber Revolution quilts are significant because they have been created by quilters from both Botswana in southern Africa and New Jersey. They are touring now but will eventually enliven the walls of a hospital in Botswana. Pay special attention to how, even though the quilts were created by people of such different cultures, the exhibit is cohesive. Look especially at Deborah Schwartzman's "Tropical Nut," created in silk, rayon and cotton. Notice the variety of fabrics used, the variety of stitches.

While the designs of some are intricate, often including sewn-on beads, soft billowing fabrics and other adornments, others have a clear-cut design, such as Barbara Barrick McKie's "Beautiful Bird" made of dispersed dyed polyester which was machine appliqued and quilted with trapunto effect and embroidery. This shows a bird of many hues simply perched on a branch against a blue sky.

Complimenting the quilt exhibit are the works by Homefront artists. Be sure to spend time with these works that vary from simplistic to complex, from pleasantly naïve to heart-rendingly sincere. The focus of the ArtSpace at HomeFront program is to help individuals affected by poverty, homelessness or abuse build self-confidence through self-expression.

If time allows, go over to Building 100, which also is home to the Cambridge School and view the works on the second floor, otherwise come back a second time to see what the professionals who rent space at the Straube Center get to enjoy every workday.

S. L. Baker describes her abstract canvases as "a confluence of social, political and familial concern." A longtime Trenton area resident and retired New Jersey teacher, she is exhibiting more than 25 abstract paintings, among which is her "Mindfulness," which was given an Honorable Mention in this year's Ellarslie Open.

Also on display is her "Moment to Moment," where circles in squares make their statement in blue, red and gold as well as abstract designs that reflect her talents as a poet and lyricist.

On her website, Liron Sissman describes her paintings as "describing nature metaphorically."

She says, "My landscapes, like my flowers, are not merely intended to reflect nature but rather to project an inner reflection, a metaphorical journey."

She says of the flowers in her paintings, "Unencumbered by personal features, (they) serve as portraits of human nature." That can be seen clearly in her painting of two sunflowers facing each other as if in conversation. In "End of the Affair," she captures the poignancy of the situation in a portrait of two dying flowers in a vase facing away from each other, their heavy heads bent as if in sadness.

This art event is billed as one exhibit, but there is so much quality art on display it would be a shame to rush through on one visit just to see it all. Keep in mind there are also outdoor sculptures to be enjoyed. These can be found in the grounds surrounding Building 1.

A map of the Straube Center campus and further information on these exhibits can be found at (straubecenter.com/art_at_straube.php)

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