August 17-September 18
Romano Gallery Artist Exhibitions
Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ Romano Gallery exhibits the work of professional artists, as well as that of Blair students and faculty. Click the images below for information about the exhibiting artists for the 2021-2022 school year.
- Thomas Franklin
- Ralph Gabriner and Dena Schutzer
- Joni Oye-Benintende
- Lois Dodd & Friends
- Mel Leipzig
- Shawn Cheng
Award-winning photographer, multimedia journalist and documentary filmmaker Thomas Fanklin's exhibit focuses on issues related to human migration. The Monclair State University professor and Pulitzer Prize finalist is a multimedia and visual storyteller who explores global issues with local and regional impact, including immigration, refuges, and policies related to undocumented residents and asylum seekers.
New York City-based landscape painter (and mother of Blair architrecture teacher Eli King) Lois Dodd will showcase her work alongside that of more than a dozen of her artist friends, including Paul Carrellas, David Dewey, Jeffrey Epstein, Daniel Finaldi, Joseph Fiore, Leslie Hertzog, Julie Jankowski, Arthur Kvarnstrom, Lunn Kotula, Barbara Kulicke, Elizabeth O'Reilly, St. Clair Sullivan and former Blair fine arts teacher Rita Baragona. Ms. Dodd transforms the ordinary into poetic moments filled with light and color, exhibiting her work in New York City, across the U.S.A. and internationally.
Over the last 40 years, Mel Leipzig has painted people from all walks of life, ranging from high-school principals to well-known artists. The artist, who was honored with an award from the New Jersey Foundation last year, paints his subjects in person rather than from photographs as a means of preserving the intensity of feeling as he creates his art.
Artist and cartoonist Shawn Cheng makes pictures of monsters. Drawing inspiration from mythical traditions from around the world, he creates characters to act out the conflict between the natural and unnatural and manmade. The monsters in his maximal, visually dense images are awe-inspiring, even beautiful, evoking a sense of wonder, as well as impending doom.
Ms. Caruso’s fine-art photographs represent the concepts of aging, nostalgia, domesticity, femininity and depictions of self. Through the construction of tableaux in rural and neglected corners of New Jersey, she channels folklore, fairy tales and dreams to create solitary and macabre imagery using a large-format camera and film.
Ms. Caruso holds a BFA with photography concentration from Montclair State University and has worked as a professional photographer for news outlets and magazines since 2006. She has extensive experience creating and editing feature, portrait, fashion, product, food, still life, architectural, news and fine art photography.
Geometry, generative algorithms, and top-down engineering drive Mr. Courter’s sculpture, interactive media and apparel. The principle that motivates his work is the construction of simple sets of rules that synthesize results through manual problem solving and programmed automation. Recurring themes include mapping abstract concepts into tangible objects and confronting engineering orthodoxy. Most of Mr. Courter’s work is documented via open source software and CAD models.
A 1996 graduate of Princeton University, Mr. Courter holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a certificate in materials science. He has dedicated his career to innovation in computer-aided engineering and is currently the head of software research at Stratasys, where he is building a new generation of tools for functional additive manufacturing. In 2016, Mr. Courter received the Peter Marks Pioneer Award from the CAD Society, which acknowledges visionary leaders in the engineering software industry.
The paintings of Catherine Drabkin will be on display in The Romano Gallery giving students and members of the community a chance to observe and study works that have been inspired by the rhythms of nature and music. The painter and animator’s work includes everyday elements from a found object garden or a chaotic kitchen. Ms. Drabkin translates these forms into paintings that use color to apply musical structure to her lived experience, and her pieces create visual dances of form to build a conversation between exterior reality and the imagination.
Ms. Drabkin holds a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA from Queens College (CUNY). Represented by Kraushaar Galleries since 1994, her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in many public and private collections. A founding faculty member of the Delaware College of Art and Design, she has also taught at the University of Nebraska/Omaha, Southern Connecticut State University, Seton Hill University, Point Park University and Dartmouth College.
Known for her precise designs, Ms. Slahta underscores the spectacular nature of the Raku experience in her work, where colors sometimes develop and disappear in a split second. Because the firing is extreme, and, at times, uncontrollable, Ms. Slahta embraces the magic of smoke permeating the clay body and creating one-of-kind colors and designs, each step constituting a moment flash-frozen in time.
Ms. Slahta’s lifelong passion for clay began during her undergraduate days as a mathematics major at Moravian College. She has been a juried resident at the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Banana Factory since 2000, where she teaches ceramics classes for adults, summer camps for children and participates in after-school programs for at-risk youth. Her work has been exhibited in national and regional shows, including “PA Craft” at the State Museum in Harrisburg and “Area Artists 2017” at Lehigh University.
Tim Fite ’95 loves to draw. He draws on paper. He draws on walls. He draws with markers. He draws with music. He draws so much, that sometimes he is even forced to draw over old drawings.
A 2000 Rutgers University graduate, Mr. Fite spent over a decade making music and touring for Lava/Atlantic Records and ANTI records and has exhibited his artwork at Gallery Tom Blaess in Bern, Switzerland, the Governors Island Art Fair in New York City and other locations. Having recently decided to focus his artmaking on drawing, his true love, he said that most of his drawings center on emotional, instinctual and political truth-telling. “I believe creativity, communication, and hard work are the keys to fostering a more benevolent and inclusive society,” Mr. Fite said, “and I hope my artwork can ultimately contribute to that end.”
Ms. Prives creates physical and digital collages that focus on the process of decomposition and reconstruction and the dialect of growth and decay, and that examine the complex relationship between the organic and the manmade. “To make each collage, I draw, disassemble and reconfigure maps, geological patterns and industrial imagery to breed new worlds that are at once familiar and abstract,” she said. Every artwork combines multiple forms of printmaking, as the artist uses fragments of screen-prints, monotypes and found material to assemble the composition.
A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College (BA) and Pratt Institute (MFA), Ms. Prives also studied printmaking at the Scuola Internazionale De Graphica in Venice, Italy. She has exhibited in cities worldwide and has been awarded residencies in the U.S. and Europe. Ms. Prives teaches at Parsons School of Design, New York University and the City University of New York.
- Grier de Langley Torrence
- The Princeton Artists Alliance
- Brian Emery
- Will Rothfuss
- Danielle Austin
- Bruce Dehnert
Titled Life Comes First, the exhibition featured figurative compositions painted in small increments that reflect Mr. Torrence's life and the lives of his family and friends. Together, the daily images comprise a visual poem or metaphorical diary of the people, places and things that have been present throughout the artist's life.
The exhibit's title comes from a line in a song Mr. Torrence wrote many years ago: "Life has always got to come first." "It's important for younger folks to know that no matter how passionate you are about achievements, about the things you love, what matters most is life," he explained. And, to Mr. Torrence, life includes your sense of faith, family and friends, as well as "the many wonderful qualities you have, if you just take a moment to recognize them."
An award-winning artist whose career spans 40 years, Mr. Torrence holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and a master of fine arts degree from Yale University School of Art. His work has been featured in dozens of solo and group exhibitions throughout the Northeast, and he has taught at the college and high-school levels. Mr. Torrence currently serves as art department chair at Miss Porter's School in Farmingdale, Connecticut.
Founded in 1989, the Princeton Artists Alliance is a working artists' group comprising painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers and more. The group has exhibited throughout New Jersey and in neighboring states, and frequently channels its creative energy for commentary on social, political and cultural issues. Politics of Water featured artists' visualization of a variety of water-related concerns, ranging from climate change and pollution to the economics of water and access to a limited supply.
The artists featured in Politics of Water included Joanne Augustine, Hetty Baiz, Joy Barth, Anita Benarde, Rajie Cook, Clem Fiori, Tom Francisco, Carol Hanson, Shellie Jacobson, Judy Langille, Eva Mantell, Pat Martin, Charles McVicker, Lucy Graves McVicker, Harry Naar, Jim Perry, Maria Pisano, Richard Sanders, Madelaine Shellaby, Marie Sturken and Judy Tobie.
Artist and educator Brian Emery examined the experience of place through photographic and video works in Placescapes.
Having devoted his art practice to observing and documenting urban environmented, Mr. Emery experiments with recording-media as he captured a neighborhood or scene to create unique methods for re-presenting the qualities of the place. In Placescapes, he composited multiple images and video together, using a variety of techniques to portray notions of the urban fabric over time.
In some of his recent work, Mr. Emery has juxtaposed digital technology with history: In 2016, as a fellow in 3D visualization at the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, he developed a long-term multimedia project centered on the attic space of the 1729 Robert Carter III house in Williamsburg, Virginia. Earlier this year, he served as an artist-in-residence in alembic arts with the National Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park, where he worked on an experimental documentary using a modified antique stereo-view camera.
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, artist Will Rothfuss headlined at Blair's Romano Gallery in 2017-2018 with an exhibition of two-dimensional collage and three-dimensional assemblage works. In Repurposing Art, Mr. Rothfuss used recycled materials—including men's shirts, magazine clippings and glass wire—to create works that appropriate the imagery and vocabulary of modern art while exploring the relevance of image-making in a postmodern era. The pieces on display in The Romano Gallery built narrative meaning and aesthetic form through the juxtaposition of dissimilar elements.
Mr. Rothfuss has been creating abstract works of art, ranging from small collages to large paintings, for more than 40 years. A 1975 graduate of Cornell University, he studied realism at the Art Student's League of New York City under Robert Beverly Hale and Frank Mason. Mr. Rothfuss worked as a custom cabinetmaker and scenic designer in theatre and television for a number of years to support his growing family, but recently returned to full-time art-making.
Having exhibited in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, Mr. Rothfuss has received several awards for his artworks, some of which are now part of corporate and private collections. His large body of work includes geometric abstraction with fabric, collage and mixed-media; assemblage and installations; and hyper-realism painting in watercolor or oil.
The Romano Gallery's first exhibition of 2018 featured the nature photography of New Jersey artist Danielle Austen. In Echoing Cascades, the award-winning fine-art photographer focuses on the mystical element of water, exploring its movement through the interplay of light, patterns, tones and the abstract imagery it creates. Highlighted by image pairings that demonstrate the correlation between the vibrancy of color and the drama of black-and-white elements.
Having always been drawn to nature, Ms. Austen described how her nature photography reflects a desire to capture the many tranquil aspects of her journeys that are often missed by the casual observer. "I focus on documenting intimate portraits of the environment with the intent to communicate to the viewer the spirituality I envision in each moment," she said. Her investigation into the movement of water has revealed results that "can be surreal and even ethereal," she continued. "I believe these images are pathways into an unexpected depth of the natural world."
Ms. Austen received her bachelor of fine arts degree from Cornell University and worked as a graphic designer for seven years before attending the master's program in photojournalism at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her editorial work for newspapers and magazines has been published locally, regionally and nationally, and she has exhibited her fine-art photography in dozens of juried shows in the United States and abroad.
The recipient of a host of awards, Ms. Austen garnered "honorable mentions" for the past two years in the International Photography Awards and was named a national winner of Canon's "Project Imaginat10n" photo competition in 2013.
Bruce Dehnert received a bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of Montana and earned his MFA in ceramic sculpture from Alfred University. He has taught at Hunter College and Parsons School of Art and Design in New York City; The School of Art in New Zealand; the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Malaysia; and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Among his many artistic honors, Mr. Dehnert is the recipient of a New Jersey Artist Fellowship Award, a three-time winner of the Fletcher Challenge International Ceramics Award and a finalist in the Robert Wood Johnson International Figurative Competition. His work is held in the White House collection, as well as the collections of museums around the world, including the Crocker Museum in California, the Yixing Museum of Ceramic Art in China, the New Dowse Museum in New Zealand and the New Museum in New York City.
Mr. Dehnert has written extensively on ceramics and pottery and has published journal articles and forwards for exhibition catalogs and books. His own bestselling book, Simon Leach's Pottery Handbook, was recently published by Abrams Publishing of New York City, and he is currently writing a biography on noted Japanese artist Takeshi Yasuda.
In 2016, Mr. Dehnert was named a fellow to the International Academy of Ceramics. He currently serves as head of ceramics at Peters Valley School of Craft in Layton, New Jersey.