The New Jersey Arts Annual exhibit at the New Jersey State Museum features works by New Jersey based artists from 2020-2022. Like everything else, the yearly event was interrupted by COVID. The theme of this year’s exhibit is Reemergence, a rebirth from the lockdowns and sickness and isolation. Each of the pieces is displayed alongside a statement by the artist. Many of those statements talk about the pandemic and how it affected their life and work. Excerpts from some of the artists’ stories are included below with the images of their work.
Studio with Self Portrait, Bette Blank. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped our existence over the last two years. Life as we knew it stopped, our world shrinking to four walls…yet societal changes marched on. While store shelves were empty, and hospitals full, my home became my immediate inspiration. This is reflected in Studio with Self Portrait, which is not merely a snapshot of lock-down life, but also hints at a world beyond the windows and doors
The Collection, Tammy S. McEntee. In March of 2020 when the pandemic first caused the world to shut down, I was lost. No travel no meeting with family, friends, or colleagues, and the world around me was in chaos. I could not make myself work. I was unmotivated. My pencil did not touch a piece of paper for four months. I decided to free myself from my previous constraints and work using my collection of blue and white chinaware along with florals keeping the old masters in mind. By doing so, I was able to once again get back to work and I have not stopped since.
Untitled 3, Christine Sauerteig-Pilaar. My art during COVID began to shift inward. I began to work on found materials. It was also a distraction from the reality of my Dad losing his battle with Parkinson’s. Rummaging through memorabilia for photos to use during his funeral, I came upon some old upholstery patterns my Mom had sowed during my youth. With a new observation on memory, and how one sees and feels memories, and recycling materials that were personal, my Muse adapted to communicate a new vision dealing with memory and how difficult it is to see them clearly.
Exit, Allan Gorman. I have been making a series of paintings that capture plays of light and shadow in isolated places. Somehow they seem to capture the melancholia and loneliness most of us have felt during these troubling times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rust, Bud McNichol. My latest series took shape during the pandemic. During the lockdown, my two young sons would keep connected with their friends through their gaming consoles. The landscape depicted in the painting is from the games they played with their cohorts.
January Farm, Ricardo Barros. COVID required that we isolate ourselves, allowing for greater contemplation and purposeful work and it pushed social activities outdoors. Other than that, the pandemic was background to my artistic concerns. I make a series of still pictures from a single point while rotating my camera full circle, encompassing everything visible on the horizon. I stitch these into a single, flattened photograph.
Tasks at Hand, Bennett Gewirtz. The pandemic challenged me to use my sense of style to focus on the uniqueness of these times. Being home had me to look at my immediate surroundings for inspiration.
The Work Party: Biplane and Blue Truck in Red, David Orban
Norwegian Perspective, Manda Gorsegner
The Weekend, Daniel Finaldi
Dislocated, Wayne Hoey
Pandemic Posture, Janet Tsakis
La vejez, Pedro Mieles
Karma Wins, Donald Truss
Elekta Infinity, Sarah Canfield
Stardust Motel, Danielle Cartier
Man with Bag, Jay Pingree