New Jersey Jewish News
The highly diversified collection of works that will be on display in the seventh annual Gaelen Juried Art Show & Sale opening May 14 on the Aidekman campus in Whippany continues to stretch the definition of art and blur some other boundaries as well, like the line that has traditionally separated the professional from the amateur artist.
The show sponsored by Audrey and Norbert Gaelen of Short Hills and the largest yet will display 141 works by 69 MetroWest area artists. Included will be a wide variety of media: watercolors and photographs, oil paintings and drawings, collages and sculpture. What is new to the show this year, however, is the inclusion for display and sale of 16 paintings by individuals with developmental disabilities.
Explaining the couples original purpose in establishing the show six years ago, Norbert Gaelen said, We felt there was a lot of talent in the community and no one was putting it together. These artists had no place to show [their work].
The Gaelens believe that including the work by the special-needs artists has furthered that mission. Last year Audrey Gaelen attended a show featuring the artwork of developmentally disabled adults who take classes, study, and socialize at the Wellness, Arts, and Enrichment Center in West Oranges Bnai Shalom. The Gaelens recognized that these artists could benefit from wider exposure and that the Gaelen show was, said Norbert, the perfect venue for it. We made a commitment that we would give these artists some screens to display their work and the inclusion of the 16 pieces is the first step in fulfilling that commitment.
The Gaelens spoke alternately and occasionally in unison in a telephone interview with NJ Jewish News, describing what they saw on their visits to the WAE studio, where works by its participants are always on view and available for purchase. I couldnt believe the quality of work these people produce, Audrey Gaelen said. When you look at their paintings, you realize its spontaneous, from their heart. Having these paintings on display and for sale in the Gaelen Gallery, she added, will give our show a real boost.
I was absolutely astounded at what they do, her husband agreed, expressing special admiration for the way they use colors. All the WAE artists are mentally challenged to some degree, he said, and some have impaired motor skills and vision problems, but they do some very stimulating artwork.
The personal satisfaction in the ongoing presentation of the annual show and now its expansion comes because I am in a position that I can let people show their art make it possible, Audrey said. The couple, longtime art collectors and philanthropists, have funded the shows venue the Gaelen Gallery itself, housed in the campus buildings atrium and created a permanent endowment to ensure that the show and its mission to showcase local artists will have a future.
The exhibit provides rewards for amateur as well as professional artists. Gaelen art show coordinator DorisAnn Markowitz told NJJN that artists who win prizes and even first-timers have won in the past enhance their resumes and make their work more attractive to prospective buyers. In addition, the rigorous selection process is well-known in the art world, she said, and making the final cut adds luster to the reputation of both established and new artists.
Markowitz anticipates that the focus of the show will continue to expand in the future. Next year, she said, the Gaelens will look at the art of young students, with an eye to diversifying and enriching the exhibit by adding a different group of contributors. Well be looking around the community asking, Wheres the growth whats happening?
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