| FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION By Kristin Boyd
The National Drawing Exhibition 2007 allows artists to challenge themselves and take a risk.
The College of New Jersey's latest exhibit, a collection of work featuring paint splashes, graphite smudges and ink-blown bubbles, is pushing the definition of drawing beyond a No. 2 pencil and a piece of notebook paper.
"There are so many ways to approach drawing, and even in this show, you can see the broad range of the medium. It's exciting to see the different interpretations of drawing," Gallery Director Sarah Cunningham says of the National Drawing 2007 Exhibit, on display through Feb. 14.
"It's a complex process for an artist to achieve a fresh and poignant vision," says juror Kristen Accola. "The people I chose really have something to say."
Ms. Accola, the curator and director of exhibitions at the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, sorted through roughly 200 submissions to find images that were honest, pointed and expressive, She also wanted the pieces to represent the exhibit's dual mission to be a platform for artists and an educational tool for TCNJ students.
"We're living at a point in history when every style has been done before, so I was looking for I was looking for some new interpretation that expresses their inner vision," she says. "I wanted to see the personality of the artist coming through the drawing technique."
Those drawing techniques range from the heavy charcoal markings in "Coils" by Hightstown artist Paul Mordetsky to the layered watercolor shapes in "The Noble Wild American Turkey" by Hamilton artist Dallas Piotrowski.
"I always thought the drawing show was really pencil drawing, or just pen-and-inks, that kind of thing," Ms. Piotrowski says, "When I visited a few years ago, I was quite surprised to see what was included in the medium."
Viewing a previous exhibit prompted Ms. Piotrowski to submit one of her finished works for the 2007 competition. Born out of her annual trip to the Cape May Zoo, the turkey replica is spot on, down to the bright red throat and textured iridescent feathers.
"Drawing is the foundation of art. It's the foundation for any artist because that's the way you understand form and shape," says Ms. Piotrowski, curator at the Gallery at Chapin School in Lawrence.
Mr. Mordetsky, an accomplished artist whose work was previously selected for the National Drawing Exhibit in 1999, agrees. "Drawing is a way to work out ideas. Drawings can be finished products, or they can be sketches,""he says, "The definition of drawing is broad so this is a really wonderful show with a really rich variety of work."
In "Coils," Mr. Mordetsky drew a man walking in the center of the piece, his back to the viewer, his journey surrounded by towering coils that could be spinning tornado clouds or raging tsunami waves.
"(It) comes from some of the images in Iraq, ... that destruction," he says. "It started out with an image that's not particularly pleasing, but, in the end, it's a metaphorical, psychological landscape." The image, he adds, is open for interpretation.
That advice applies to the other pieces posted along the gallery's white walls. Immerse yourself in "Melancholy," a dotted portrait by John M. Mishler of Doylestown, Pa., that resembles a hippie version of Ben Franklin, without the bifocals and ruffled shirt. Mr. Mishear used only toothpicks to apply thousands of tiny dots.
In "Iconic Columns," Alice Norman Madel of Philadelphia uses white charcoal on black paper to draw a human balancing act, reminiscent of a Cirque du Soleil performance. With various shapes and performers stacked slightly off-center among three columns, each structure looks like it could tumble at the slightest movement.
"Entanglement 7," a purchase prize winner created with graphite by Doug Russell of Laramie, Wyo., resembles both a handful of roots freshly yanked from the ground, din and debris still falling from it, and a frizzy ponytail with split ends.
And one of the larger pieces, "Firmament (for Dewey)" by Kathy Goodell of New Paltz, N.Y:, includes 300 library filing cards hung with metal bug pins for a scientific feel. The artist blew ink through a straw, allowing the resulting bubble to create a series of circular and oblong images that look like specimen under a microscope.Or quench your sweet tooth while viewing "Porca Miseria IAT" by Maria Lupo of Roseland. The mixed-media image on tar paper resembles three white-and-pink-frosted animal crackers stacked on top of one another.
On your way out, play the childhood game "I-Spy" with Peter McCaffrey's mixed media and charcoal collage, "Lapse." The New York City-based artist incorporated so many elements — circles, gold paper, shadows, animals, children, textbook cutouts — that no matter where you stand, you're bound to find something new.
The great thing about drawing, Ms. Accola says, is that it gives artists a starting point and the freedom to create images from that, one marking at a time.
"So much has been done with work on paper because of the variety of techniques and the approaches. But drawing frees artists to express themselves so much more intensely, to let go of preconceived notions and traditional modes, to challenge themselves and push the envelope. They're willing to go out on a limb and risk the piece to.,, express something."
The National Drawing Exhibition 2007 is on display at The College Art Gallery at The College of New Jersey, through Feb. 14, 2007
Faces In Stone
By: Susan Van Dongen TimeOFF, Princeton Packet November 26, 2001
Wind, sea, rain and erosion give personality to the rocks in Paul Mordetsky's landscapes.
"The landscapes are a jumping off point for me," says Paul Mordetsky. "They're not wholly one thing or another. It's more about creating a mood."
Indigenous people of the ancient world bestowed meaning and a spiritual essence on everything, even inanimate objects such as mountains and rocks. Some Native American tribes believed that spirits — great stone giants — were able to camouflage themselves and blend into rock formations, making them come alive. Studying trees with their skin-like bark, the "faces" in flowers like pansies, and even the voluptuous folds of rocks, it's not hard to imagine how one might see the essence within.
Hightstown artist Paul Mordetsky is tuned in to such visual subtleties. He has traveled from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the beaches of Brittany on France's northwestern coast, observing and capturing landscapes on canvas. Wind, sea, rain and erosion marked the rocks he saw with individual personalities, even sculpting them into animal and human shapes. Mr. Mordetsky's latest series of works goes beyond the ordinary, inviting viewers to meditate on what else they might see in these hunks of granite.
Mr. Mordetsky's painted expositions on the earth are on view at the Artist's Gallery in Lambertville through Dec. 2, in the two-person exhibit - "Recent Landscapes". Sandra C. Davis' dreamlike experiments in photography make up the other half of the show. Both artists evoke a contemplative atmosphere with their works.
Mr. Mordetsky has designed his latest oil paintings to be highly charged, perhaps even a little disorienting. For example, in "Being Alone," Mr. Mordetsky has painted a nude walking through a rather inhospitable vista, a deserted beach strewn with rocks.
"I hope to evoke...an experience of silence contemplated in an unpopulated, often barren, openness where a soul might wander, alone and undisturbed, discovering itself," he writes in his artist's statement.
Whether teaching at Mercer County Community College or Trenton's ArtWorks, or instructing young people at the Princeton Latin Academy, Mr. Mordetsky focuses on art as a means of communication that is just as important as speaking."I try to help my students learn the 'grammar' of art," he says. "I try to teach them a vocabulary so that they can say things within that language. I try to make them more aware of how to manipulate shapes and tones so they can create things that are expressive of their beings."
Born in 1953 and raised in Brooklyn, Mr. Mordetsky visited Manhattan's galleries and museums as a budding artist. He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) in 1976 and lived for almost two decades in Philadelphia, exhibiting at the Gross McLeaf and Rosenfeld galleries. He also had solo shows at the Morpeth Gallery in Pennington, N.J., the Trenton City Museum, the Peddie School in Hightstown and Mercer County Community College. Mr. Mordetsky names Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso among his many influences.
"Previously, my work had been more traditional, mostly landscapes and local scenes," he says. It was after a trip to Colorado, where he tried to capture the grandeur of the Rockies and almost sensual quality of the rocks themselves, when Mr. Mordetsky began to think more like the Native Americans — seeing figures and life in these huge objects (artist's note: I never said that - that was the author's take on it). One painting from this period, titled "The Dying Light," shows a grouping of rocks resembling a sleeping giant, his head resting on his folded arms.
"I loved the rocks in Colorado. The more I used them in my paintings, the more I discovered I could find things in them," Mr. Mordetsky says. "Or I would embed things in them and create this kind of ambiguity."
He was also enchanted by the coast of Brittany and made numerous photographs and drawings during a brief visit there last March. "I've been working from those sketches and photos," he says. "It was a (great) opportunity to find which rock forms created a certain mood, see how the wind and water eroded the rocks into these wonderful shapes, which I could then build on."
The colors are also unusual in his latest series of paintings. The coastal peninsula between the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay is known for its pink granite beaches. Mr. Mordetsky appreciated the accessible size of the rocks there as well.
"They're not enormous like they are in the Rockies," Mr. Mordetsky says. "They're human in scale. You can imagine people in relationship to the rocks.
"My paintings are a forum for organizing space and light as metaphor rather than record. They're a composite of what was physically out there and what was in my head. As I draw the rocks I create a dialogue of forms and moods and go with that. I leave things open for interpretation."
Recent Landscapes, featuring paintings by Paul Mordetsky and photography by Sandra C. Davis, is on view at the Artist's Gallery, 32 Coryell St., Lambertville, through Dec. 2. 2001 Gallery hours: Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For information, call (609) 397-4588. Work by both artists can be viewed at www.artspan.com
Meditations on nature at Ruth Morpeth Gallery
By JANET PURCELL Friday, September 18, 1998 special to the Times
Ruth Morpeth chose wisely when she invited Mr. Mordetsky and sculptor Rory Mahon to exhibit together in her Pennington gallery. Their expertise and proficiency is equal, and they both have brought a spiritual seeking to their work.
Mordetsky’s large oil paintings on canvas and smaller oil crayon works on paper are of rocks and streams, fields, trees and distant mountains.
In a departure from his past works which were full of color, these quiet landscapes are done in a limited palette of greens, grays and earth tones.
In his large painting, “Granite Wastes”, huge gray boulders stand in the landscape. Their silent presence leads you to wonder what cataclysmic event caused them to be there. The landscape that surrounds them is vulnerable and changing; they are strong and permanent.
In “From Out The Sea”, a large work on canvas, Mr. Mordetsky shows a brilliant blue sea flowing between a rocky coastline and distant mountains. In this, one of the most colorful paintings in this collection, he successfully captures the fall of light on the rocks and the rippling water.
"I love his painterly technique, that he does not overwork them. They look so spontaneous.”, says Ms. Morpeth, referring to the way Mr. Mordetsky often lets the paper show through when he uses oil crayons.
Another reason his paintings work so well is because he unifies the entire image by reflecting sky colors in the water, on rocks and paths, and even in the grasses and trees. In turn, he adds flecks of water and earth tones into the clouds above.
Mr. Mordetsky’s paintings are based on places he has visited in Colorado and the Saguenay River region of Quebec. It is not their existence as real places that interests him, he says, but, rather, a quality of silence he wants to capture. He has done that by keeping the landscape free of figures or animals, by keeping his palette limited to a few true colors, and by not romanticizing what he saw.
‘Line of Inquiry’ at MCCC
Although curators frequently gravitate toward the theme show as a vehicle for bringing lots of artists before the public at the same time, creating a group exhibition that is more than the sum of disparate parts is hard to pull off. Thinking about a theme and a group of artists, the curator can make at best only a calculated guess about the future compatibility -- in terms of content and chemistry -- of the work she plans to solicit. And it may not be until after the work is installed that she learns whether her guess has paid off.
At the Gallery at Mercer County Community College, curator Tricia Fagan selected as the theme for a group show our most basic act of mark-making -- the line. She has used this theme to successfully draw together works by five area artists into a provocative and unified constellation. On view through Thursday, December 19, "Line of Inquiry" features multiple works by Joy Kreves, Elizabeth McCue, Helen Mirkil, Paul Mordetsky, and Harry Naar. Gracefully installed in the gallery's three rooms, the show presents work in two and three dimensions and in all media. And as the title suggests, the viewer may find the idea of thematic inquiry a helpful vehicle through which to meet new artists and perhaps see familiar work with new eyes.
"For human beings, the use of line is one of the most elementary of lessons. From the time we first clutch crayon or pencil in hand, dashing streaks on paper or bedroom wall, our personal style in `mark making' begins its lifelong evolution," writes Fagan in her gallery notes. The muscle and movement inherent is her characterization of line are key to the show's success............
...............It was not until I approached Paul Mordetsky's nine landscapes that I discovered I was looking in a new way. Working in oil and oil crayon, Mordetsky uses paint to create the illusion of natural form. Yet, suddenly, I noticed how line ruled my way of looking; I found myself seeing differently. Now the nature study "Full Tilt" hit me as a dynamic cascade of line, almost as animated as the geologic tilt that defined the landscape.
-- Nicole Plett
By Daniel Shearer
Princeton Packet Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 28, 1998
Stylistically, Hightstown resident Paul Mordetsky, says he is also interested in exploring relationships but chooses to depict scenes observed by people. On some of his works the artist incorporates photocopied maps and diagrams that contribute to his works overall composition.
"They're all fairly empty and barren," he says, of his work. "Though I've been to all of these places, and I've drawn there and photographed things there, I'm not particularly interested in places as real scenes. I'm interested in a certain quality of stillness, of silence, of alienation to a degree but not in the sense of making you not want to be in the landscape. It's a depopulated kind of barren, open quality, where one can kind of feel that this is a place to wander, to gaze, to make decisions."
His work, "An Older, Colder Voice," takes its name from a W.H. Auden poem. Using a semi-realistic style with subdued tones, the work depicts a desolate group of rocks along the Saguenay River in northern Québec.
I like these rocks because of their limited color," he says. "None of these are typical, lovely country scenes that one often associates with landscape painting.
"'By an older colder voice, It actually comes from a section of a W.H. Auden poem, that, if I can quote correctly, was, 'But the really reckless were drawn by an older, colder voice, the oceanic whisper, which asks nothing and promises nothing in return.'"
The work of Thomas Kelly, Aundreta Wright, Gary Saretsky, Csilla Sadloch, Cindy Bearce-Maffini and Paul Mordetsky, is on display at the Trenton City Museum, Cadwalader Park, Parkside Ave., Trenton, through Dec. 6. The museum is open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tues.-Sat., and 2-4 p.m. Sun. Admission is free. For more information, call (609) 989-3632.