The Places They've Been

Artists share images from near and far in an exhibit at The South Brunswick Gallery

Need to get away from it all but don’t have a vacation planned? Then an exhibit at The South Brunswick Gallery just might be what you’re looking for.

Not that looking at artwork can quite take the place of an actual trip, but the scenes depicted in “The Roads We Travel” on view at the gallery through June 20 can offer a mind-clearing respite from work and responsibility, as well as an art-purchasing opportunity.

Experiencing the show is like a long drive in which you pass by roadside scenes, meadows, neighborhoods, beaches, streams and even cows. The show’s paintings and photographs depict faraway places like China, Portugal and Jerusalem, places closer to home like Dayton, Ohio, and even sights off area roads. The theme allows the viewer to experience these places and many others through the perspective of the artists.

One depiction of a local image is “Our Road,” a photograph by Michael Derer of Kendall Park. The glow of lights from traffic signals, cars and a McDonald’s sign make an everyday scene look sleek and inviting.

“It becomes this sort of magical place but in fact it’s right around the corner,” says curator Corey Alperstein.

Sandy Behrend’s “Turnpike, South,” shows a sight that should be dreary: traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. But the cars’ toy-like bright colors of yellow, green, red and orange, along with an absence of exhaust fumes, help make the scene playful. Behind the cars are a composite of sights found on the Turnpike — gas tanks, smokestacks and, as the artist notes in a statement, grass and trees that “remarkably survive and soften the (painting’s) geometric shapes,” the artist notes in wall text.

Many of the international scenes are about people as much as they’re about location. Bernice Rappoport’s “Market Day” shows a woman in China carrying vegetables on a stick held over her right shoulder. Behind her is a car. Ms. Rappoport was struck by the contrast between the traditional China and new China she saw in a photograph taken by her son.

“Here she was the old China carrying vegetables and I thought the tradition of that was so interesting that I had to paint it,” says Rappoport, who lives in Old Bridge and teaches computers and adult art classes at the East Brunswick Vocational School.

The artist’s use of color is another interesting element of the scene. The woman is dressed in drab, gray clothing and is surrounded by green trees, a blue background and even some pink in the road. The woman’s face isn’t detailed, which reflects the artist’s goal of creating paintings that are somewhat realistic but reflect what she’s seeing.

“What you want to do with painting is convey a feeling to the viewer, that’s what I’m trying to do,” Rappoport says. “When I approach something, you can tell what it is, it’s realistic but it’s not.”

She really put her imagination to use in “A Night on the Town,” which shows a street at night, illuminated by soft moonlight. On the left side of the street, a couple is walking away from a café.

"That was actually a daytime photo of Ridgefield Conn.,” Rappoport says. “What I did was, I challenged myself and said, OK, let’s make this a night scene. And I found that really challenging.”

Painting from a photograph is more than copying an image, Rappoport says, adding that she wants to create an atmosphere and mood with her paintings. But with “A Night on the Town,” she took things a step further by looking at the daytime scene and imagining what it would look like at night.

 Carl Frankel’s “Jerusalem Street Scene” depicts a couple walking by a female Israeli soldier near the Western Wall. The man wears a coat and hat and the woman’s head is covered.

 “(It represents) the juxtaposition between the military, between the traditional, between men and women and of course modern and ancient,” Alperstein says. “There’s a lot there.’

Tito Cascieri’s “Not Many Roads Left to Travel” is a simpler scene but one that is touching. It’s a digital art print that includes the use of an electronic paintbrush in Photoshop. It shows a rusty, red truck resting in snow near leafless trees. Wall text explains that the truck is “facing the third stage of life” but that its tires still have tread and the engine “still hums.”

 “I think what I liked about it was that the manmade was coming up to nature,” Alperstein says. “There was this moment where the two meet, and it felt to me like a stopping point in terms of the truck that if the pathway were to be continued it would be on foot by actually entering into nature.”

Another of Cascieri’s works is “All Roads Travel Up Hill to the Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy.” It’s also a digital art print, and depicts people enjoying the square in Italy near a restaurant named Spadaforte. Sitting there with the sun shining, warming your face is, Cascieri writes, one of life’s many joys.

"The Roads We Travel" is on view at The South Brunswick Gallery in the South Brunswick Municipal Building, 540 Route 522 in Monmouth Junction. For information, call 732-329-4000, ext. 7635 or e-mail arts@sbtnj.net


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