PE Pinkman, the chief visual arts curator and executive director of the Watchung Arts Center in New Jersey, notes that two exhibitions — Mona Brody: Portals, Apparitions, and Other Voices and Anne Trauben: Step Up on a Stool to Reach the Sky — emerged from separate discussions with each artist. For over 45 years, the nonprofit Watchung Arts Center has been a prominent stage, showcasing works from regional artists in New Jersey and New York. Their central mission is to provide visual artists with a platform for engagement, promoting arts education while offering unique exhibition opportunities. At a first glance, both Mona Brody’s paintings and Anne Trauben’s installations appear straightforward. However, Pinkman emphasizes that they reveal deeper layers upon closer inspection. He observes a fascinating contrast: while Brody’s art unveils forms from the shadows, Trauben emphasizes light and shape within a darkened setting.
Are these two separate solo shows, or are they interconnected?
Each of our exhibitions is hosted in separate galleries within our facility. We have two distinct spaces, each carefully chosen to suit the specific nature of the presented artwork.
In our smaller gallery, we’ve created an intimate and controlled environment that is ideally suited for Anne’s installation, allowing the light emitted by her pieces to create the desired atmosphere. On the other hand, Mona’s collection consists of larger wall-mounted pieces that require ample space to fully engage with each other and the viewer, which our more extensive gallery provides.
Despite their differences, both exhibitions share the theme of exploring the interplay between light and darkness, inviting viewers to respond to this dynamic contrast.
Please guide us through Anne Trauben’s show.
This installation, Step Up on a Stool to Reach the Sky, started in 2019 and comprises clay, electrical fixtures, wood, paper collage, crystal gems, and wire. Ms. Trauben says of the installation, “Sit down and, if it suits you, enjoy being under the night sky. Doing so helps to complete the work. The title of this work is a suggestion, or really, an invitation. Like folklore, a poem, and a leap of faith, the night sky holds so much possibility.”
The installation does ask the question—Is the invited action truly achievable? These illuminations do not constitute genuine stars, and the wire and silver collage do not truly represent clouds. Yet the possibility exists that they do. This experience is akin to the state between wakefulness and sleep. Whether in the early morning or the transition at dusk, everyone has their preferences. These moments, along with various other natural phenomena, are always appreciated. Yet, for the artist, the night is the time things happen.
Please guide us through Mona Brody’s show.
Mona Brody’s artistic process involves a deliberate method of working, reworking, layering, and subtracting to discover a specific place yet defies easy description, continually surprising her. Her artwork delves into the interconnected themes of nature, the human condition, and uncertainty.
While her paintings can often convey an air of mystery and unease, they are not intended as straightforward proclamations of abstract art. Instead, they represent a fusion of various emotions infused with empathy and a vivid imagination. The artist employs unconventional tools and materials to challenge conventional painting approaches, including handcrafted oil paints, pigmented shellac, and enamel. This departure from tradition adds depth and complexity to her work.
About The Watchung Arts Center: The Watchung Arts Center, situated in historic Watchung, Somerset County, NJ, is a thriving nonprofit organization run mostly by volunteers. It focuses on promoting a diverse array of professional and emerging artists in the visual and performing arts. WAC offers a wide range of contemporary arts, music, and comedy, fostering an appreciation for painting, photography, and music across various genres. Through classes, workshops, and performances tailored for all age groups, the Center actively encourages community involvement and discussions, making it a unique and multidisciplinary arts hub in New Jersey. Founded in 1978, WAC operates within a historic 125-year-old building, once part of Watchung’s original schoolhouse.
Artists Reception: Saturday, September 23, 6 to 8 pm
September 16 – October 22, 2023
Artists’ talk on Saturday, October 7, from 3 to 4:15 pm
Watchung Arts Center, 18 Stirling Rd, Watchung, NJ 07069
About the curator: PE Pinkman is a seasoned contemporary artist and curator with an extensive curatorial track record, boasting more than 100 exhibitions under his belt. Since the early 1980s, he has independently organized exhibitions for both groups and individual artists in New York and New Jersey, including Art Group NYC, Tweed Arts, and the New Art Group, among others. His primary mission has been to create platforms for underrepresented artists in the tri-state area, ensuring their work gets the recognition it deserves. Currently, he serves as the chief visual arts curator at the Watchung Arts Center while also actively exhibiting his own artwork in the New York and New Jersey region, as well as on a national and international scale.