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7th Annual SOMA Artists Studio Tour is Sunday

Visit studio spaces and meet over 60 local artists displaying a range of talent in painting, sculpture, jewelry making, pottery and printmaking.

The Seventh Annual South Orange Maplewood Artists Studio Tour is this Sunday, June 6. According to one of its organizers, Judy Wukitsch of the Baird Center, "this tour was initiated and is presented by the two towns through the Pierro Gallery of South Orange and 1978 Maplewood Arts Center. The two centers wished to highlight all the artists who live and work  in Maplewood and South Orange. It's in its seventh successful year, and the number of attendees has doubled since it started. This year we also have a free art shuttle for tour-goers—encouraging a 'green' tour."

More than 60 artists are opening their studios or exhibiting at the group venues 1978 Gallery, GAS Gallery, Pierro Gallery, The Tenth Muse and Geralyn's Art Studio. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 on the day of the tour; check out the tour's website for information on where to purchase tickets. 

Patch visited several participating artists' studios and creative spaces.

Sculptor Larry Dell of Maplewood shows at the Pierro Gallery, 1978 and GAS Gallery. His studio was formerly in his basement and backyard, but he lost that "extra" space in a home-downsizing move about a year and a half ago.

Just about concurrent with that move, he attended the Unmonumental Show at the New Museum and was inspired to switch artistic media from wood to PVC pipe, foam, rubber garden hoses, tape, bungee cords and acrylic paint. He says his new studio space, located behind Maplewood Pizzeria on the corner of Parker and Valley streets, has been great. "It's close to home," he says, "but it's not home." In this semi-industrial space, Dell can use special equipment, including exhaust fans and masks. All his work is specially priced for Artist Tour visitors; ask for prices on specific pieces.

Artist and sculptor Eric Beckerich is a newcomer to the tour. He creates in his cozy Franklin Avenue house in the Hilton section of Maplewood. His work is small-sized, portable sculptures that echo ancient influences. He has worked in construction and became comfortable with materials like cement, rock and pebbles. "Once you take a picture of my sculptures, that changes the scale," he said. "I work with classic proportions in a stream of consciousness method." Beckerich is clearly influenced by ancient and even prehistoric art.

He told Patch, "People tell me that they like my work because it's so Zen, so peaceful." His artist's statement elaborates further: "Much of my work is meant to be held and played with, like some kind of fine art toys. My works have a quantum nature about them that incorporates elements of architecture, painting, drawing and sculpture. They are at once ancient and modern. They can be arranged and rearranged, offering infinite compositional possibilities and experiences. Viewed individually, they resemble rare objects that beg to be explored and appreciated for their intriguing depth and complexity."

Beckerich, whose day job is as a construction inspector for New York City public schools, said that he taps into an ancient artistic language and develops the visuals that go with that. His process begins with pouring cement into a mold. He then removes the piece when it's still green (not completely dry) and scrapes, polishes and brushes it into shape. Prices for his small constructions begin at about $25. Breckerich is showing his work on June 5 at Arts Unbound in the Orange Valley Arts District.

Judith Targan spent 25 years as a printmaker before finding a new style in painting in oil on wood. Her interest lies in landscapes and land shapes, and her stylized paintings find roots in Persian and Japanese art. Targan graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where she took every studio and art history class available. She's lived in South Orange for over 40 years and works in a light-filled studio attached to her house, high above North Ridgewood Road in South Orange.

Targan's art career began with creating art for kids' rooms that she sold at local art fairs and sidewalk sales. Eventually she took up printmaking, working with a master printmaker. During that phase of her art career she was known for relief prints with inkless intaglio, and her subject matter included flowers, fruit and shells. These prints once sold in the $150 range each, but will be specially priced for the tour at $50.

About 15 years ago, Targan made the transition to working with oils. Printmaking had lost its inspiration and had become stale for her. Her paintings on wood are mainly landscapes which are self-framed or floating boxes. They are custom-made one-piece constructions of birch plywood. Targan gessoes the pieces as soon as they are made. Then, after painting the landscape in oil, she goes one step further, using printing techniques such as cross-hatching with an etching tool or rubbing with soft cloths to enhance the façade.

During the '80s, Targan made a series of posters based on her limited edition flower and fruit prints. Every visitor to her studio will receive a free set of three of these hand-signed posters.

Mikel Frank of Maplewood is well-known in the local art scene as a member of the board of directors of 1978 Gallery. He will be showing his work in his backyard Courter Street studio. His creative roots are in "found objects" and inspired by mid-century abstract expressionist painters Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and others. For the last 25 years, Frank has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he's in charge of production for concerts and lectures.

For the SOMA Art Tour, Frank will be showing works such as Chini Squash, an early small painting that's embedded with the wooden rulers he used to move the paint around. There is another series of paintings in his studio, which center around the issue of bereavement—Frank lost his father a few months ago. The "Fire and Light" paintings are his first creations since that loss. They express the development of his special relationship with the paint, with the foreground of the painting becoming the "space." He first laid down a darker color and then added yellow and oranges, creating that particular space where the painted objects exist.

Frank developed a kind of "calligraphic expression" where he uses his brush to make marks and develop space.

All the paintings and other creations in his studio are for sale—ask for prices. Franks also is showing a series of hand-painted cards using an encaustic (molten wax) process. The cards are small and beautiful and reminded us of Jackson Pollack, by way of Robert Motherwell.

The Seventh Annual Artists Studio Tour is sponsored by the Millburn/Union and West Orange Whole Foods, GAS Gallery and Studio, The Tenth Muse Gallery, Geralyn's Art Studio, The Framing Mill, Mona Lisa Framing, Perch Home, Caroline Gosselin and Coldwell Banker.

2010 artist roster:

Luis Alves, 
Elisabeth Antoine, Suzy Arrington,
 BeastlyBeasties,
 Eric Beckerich,
 Niv Ben-Adi, 
Bill Billec,
 Jo Bradney,
 Ron Brown,
 Sandra Charlap,
 Russell Christian,
 Bryan Christie, Thea Clark,
 Katie Clayton,
 Robert Coe,
 James Collum,
 Krysia D., Lyman Dally,
 Larry Dell,
 Julie Esgun,
 Susan Evans Grove,
 Mikel Frank,
 Nette Foren Thomas, Rebecca Gelman, 
Evelyn Graves, 
Rick Hauser,
 Suzanne Henning, 
Edward Hoffner, James & Daughters,
 B. John Kaufman,
 Berc Ketchian, Marilyn Lehren,
 Scott Lewis,
 Patricia Mallory-Miah, 
Cathleen McCoy, Bristol Jeremy, Moss Alkan Nallbani, 
Tara O'Leary,
 Alison Oxman,
 Rick Parker,
 Sarah Petruziello,
 Erin Rogers Pickering,
 Lisa Pressman,
 Irazema Rios,
 Geralyn Robinson,
 Scott Sendra,
 Howard Stein,
 Peter Stoffers,
 Sheila Sugerman,
 Anne Sussman, 
Jennifer Takahashi, 
Judy Targan,
 Paul Temmerman,
 Nancy Tobin, 
Alicia Vance,
 Florence Weisz,
 Fran Willner,
 Elizabeth Carol Winchester,
 Florence Wint,
 Corey Wolff,
 Allan Wood, 
Joy Yagid

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