Summer means Advocacy Quilts, National Parks, Self Taught Artists and more at the Noyes Museum of Art
Not far from the bright lights and the pounding surf of Atlantic City is one of South Jersey’s most interesting and attractive cultural assets, the Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton College. Nestled inland alongside the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville (Galloway Township), the Noyes showcases contemporary art in the context of some of the most beautiful coastal habitat in the Northeast. It’s an unbeatable combination. Summer is a time to explore and enjoy, and the Noyes aims to meet visitors’ expectations.
“During the summer, we get visitors from all over, and this gives us a chance to reach a wider audience,” says Dorrie Papademetriou, director of Exhibitions & Collections. “We try to present exhibitions that are interesting and accessible as well as challenging, something new and fresh, advancing our mission as the only museum in South Jersey that focuses on contemporary art. That’s the mix right now.”
At the Noyes through September 7 is “Advocacy Quilts: A Voice for the Voiceless,” an exhibition of 20 narrative quilts that establishes a dynamic dialogue between art and social consciousness through the creative work of women in marginalized communities, worldwide, and volunteer quilters from the United States. On loan from The Advocacy Project, the Washington, D.C.-based community action organization, some quilts bear witness to the ravages of war, famine, disease and poverty; others celebrate the enduring vibrancy of local cultures.
According to The Noyes: “At first look, the quilts are colorful and beautiful, with decorated patches of cloth created using various materials and methods. Upon closer inspection the images reveal the difficulties and injustices occurring in various corners of the globe. The work is visually powerful and moving as the viewer attempts to understand the hardships endured by the quilts’ creators. The quilts raise awareness and make for a profound education of the injustices around the world.”
Affirming the legacy of fine and folk art bequeathed by Fred W. Noyes Jr. and Ethel Lingelbach Noyes, “Advocacy Quilts: A Voice for the Voiceless” shows that folk art can serve large purposes and contemporary art can be viewer-friendly.
“These quilts have a much deeper meaning than people often associate with folk art,” says Papademetriou. “They raise awareness of injustices across the globe. They hit very hard. People keep talking about them, we hear. For us, this has been a very strong show.”
Also on view, through January, is “Highlights from The Permanent Collection,” 22 works in sculpture, ceramics, painting and printmaking. These include sculptural glass by James Wilbat; ceramic vases and plates by Albert Green; Bennett Bean’s “Pair on Base;” a piece from Dale Chihuly’s “Seaform”series; Richard Kemble’s vistas of Nantucket, the Jersey Shore and the Adirondack Mountains; Friedel Dzubas’s “Middle Heat,”and Helen Frankenthaler’s “Cameo.”
Celebrating the Noyes’ unique location, literally, through its environmental focus, and also illustrating its commitment to local artists and its own history, is “Anthony J. Rudisill: National Parks, America’s Last Refuge,” a show of 35 new contemporary realist paintings celebrating the American West by the noted South Jersey wildlife and scenery artist, running through September 21. Rudisill, a protégé of Fred Noyes, was given a major solo show in 2002, “Capturing the Jersey Shore: Works of Anthony J. Rudisill”
Of particular interest in the American West exhibition, according to the Noyes: “Hundreds of shades of red and ochre create endless vistas of the southern parks, in particular, Monument Valley, Arizona, and Arches National Park in Utah. The terra cotta sand plays against the dark green dunes, creating a brilliant contrast.” Other sites spotlighted include parks in California, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Ready to take a detour into “raw emotion and visual intrigue”? Accenting the offbeat as well as the local is “Detour: Self-Taught Artists,”featuring work by Malcah Zeldis, Minnie Evans and Victor Gatto, plus New Jersey artists Albert Hoffmann, Janice Fenimore, Quinton Greene, and Kevin Blythe Sampson, running through September 21. The Noyes promises “art straight from the soul.”
Run, do not walk, to see Karen Guancione’s spectacular installation in the exhibition space of the Noyes’s central gallery window, on view through August 31. Guancione’s large-scale hanging piece is constructed of thousands of library card catalog entries, designed and sewn to form one large composition.
According to the Noyes: “Karen Guancione creates interdisciplinary works -- often integrating mixed media constructions, handmade books, sculpture using household objects, printmaking, live music, ritual, and video -- to focus on women’s work and ethnicity, as well as issues of identity and class, and forms of resistance that challenge injustice and inequity.”
The artist has stated that “to explore the questions surrounding women’s work and the value placed on labor, I employ traditional, labor-intensive methods such as painstakingly cutting, tearing, sewing, assembling, and disassembling materials; arranging tens of thousands of singular pieces and methodically reconstructing them. This repetitive process is like those found in piecework and domestic tasks -- associations I am able to bring into an art environment, shaped by the stories of individuals and communities who become participants in each project.”
Off site, the Noyes Museum presents shows at various satellite locations, including The Noyes Arts Garage Stockton College at 2200 Fairmount Ave., Atlantic City. A cornerstone of the city’s new Arts District, the Arts Garage houses artist studios, galleries, shops, a café, and a flexible classroom space, and hosts special events throughout the year.
Up right now at the Arts Garage, running through September 28, is the fun and edgy “The Art of Mike Bell,”an Atlantic City artist who takes pride in his mastery of “the lowbrow genre.”
The Noyes describes Bell’s work as “a juxtaposition of iconic pop culture subjects combined with modern day influences. He also creates painted objects, such as bowling pins and surfboards, as well as palm-sized matchbook art depicting pop culture icons such as Mr. Peanut, Marilyn Monroe, Elton John, Jimmy Hendrix, Frankenstein and Humphrey Bogart … Lowbrow art is an underground visual art movement that originated in Los Angeles in the late ’70s, a populist art movement with cultural roots related to underground comics, hot-rod cultures of the street, and punk music. The artwork usually displays a sense of humor.”
If you’re planning to visit the Atlantic City area, make time for the Noyes. There’s so much to do -- the beach, of course, the boardwalk, the casinos if you’re feeling lucky, the shops, but there’s also art and nature. Also, close to the Noyes is Historic Smithville Village—a popular shopping and dining destination, offering festivals and special events—that hearkens back to simpler and quieter times.
The Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton College is located off Route 9, at 733 Lily Lake Road, Oceanville (Galloway Twp.), New Jersey 08231. Hours are: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours Thursdays until 8 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission fees: $5 for adults, $4 for students and seniors.
For more about the Noyes Museum: www.noyesmuseum.org
For more about the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton College: http://artsgarageac.com/
For more about The Advocacy Project: http://advocacynet.org
For more about the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge: www.fws.gov/refuge/edwin_b_forsythe/
For more about Historic Smithville Village: http://historicsmithvillenj.com
For more about Atlantic City: www.atlanticcitynj.com/