“A Sense of Place” opens at the Atrium Gallery on February 2

Our latest exhibit at the Atrium Gallery, SENSE OF PLACE is open through March 14 during local business hours and is located on floors 2-5 of the Morris County Administration and Records Building, 10 Court Street, Morristown.

At a time when climate catastrophes, war and other dangers have displaced so many people throughout the world, this exhibit explores the elemental human need for “a sense of place” through the unique artistic imagery of  186 artworks by eight talented New Jersey artists: Laurie Harden (Boonton), Todd Doney (Gillette), David Clair (Bernardsville), Kevin Burkitt (Neptune City), Mark de Mos (Morristown), Allan Gorman (West Orange), Lisa Lackey (Maplewood) and Marge Miccio (Trenton).

  

L-R: Laurie Harden’s oil, Tending the Cattle;  Todd Doney’s oil on linen, Trees, March 2, 5:25pm;  David Clair’s mixed media, A Dying Breed;  Kevin Burkitt’s photo, #1 from 91 Days, Countless Nights series

 Is “place” a real location, the evocation of a mood, a familiar landmark, a sight to see in a foreign country, the familiarity of one’s own backyard,  the shifting light in wooded wetlands or the gritty realism of urban streetscapes? Each artist offers a unique definition of his/her “sense of place” and invites the viewers to contemplate their own interpretations.

In the fifth floor Atrium, Laurie Harden’s oils offer a veritable travelogue – from western plains to Guatemala – capturing local flavors and moods with careful attention to animating details: the falling snow, a quiet task, a journey home or the splash of colors and patterns in marketplaces or at the rising dawn.

 In the fifth floor Elevator Lobby, Todd Doney’s luminous, impressionistic oils transport viewers to mysterious places of woods and water. The play of light, the fleeting moment, the stillness of snow, the filtering of shadows on water or trees – all create unique “places” amidst the timelessness and beauty of Nature.

On the fourth floor Atrium area, David Clair’s acrylics and mixed media works take the viewer to real and fictional locations, from castles and iconic houses to imagined spaces. Inventively combining paper and paint, Clair creates dramatic, scenic vistas and, in some works, depicts critical themes: disappearing beaches and forests, melting icecaps, extreme storms – all seen through intricate geometric prisms.

In the adjacent fourth floor hallway, Marge Miccio shares her sense of place with imaginative renderings of scenes from New Jersey to Maine. Each painting focuses on a very specific place – a building, a section of coastline, a pier, a streetscape – to the exclusion of other distracting sights. Whether in bright daylight or utilizing distinctive night settings (lit by streetlamps), Miccio’s scenes draw in the viewer and encourage contemplation of the mood and flavor of each scene. 

L-R: Mark de Mos’ oil, Crossing South Street; Marge Miccio’s oil, Anthony’s;  Allan Gorman’s oil,  The Shops at Hudson Yards; Lisa Lackey’s cording, thread and fabric on canvas, It’s Complicated

 By contrast, in the third floor’s Atrium area, Mark de Mos conveys a gentler “sense of place” using watercolors, oils and pastels to depict cozy interiors, lovely gardens, peaceful winter farmscapes, active cityscapes, serene parks and landmarks of our own Morristown area.  His subtle use of color, line and nuanced composition invite the viewer into these places, conveyed with warmth, sensitivity and clear affection.

Filling the adjacent third floor Hallway, Kevin Burkitt’s stark black and white photography revisits, in graphic detail, the devastating impact of Superstorm Sandy on its 10th anniversary. Photographed at night, these dramatic images reveal a destroyed “sense of place”: broken buildings filled with storm debris, skeletal structures with missing windows, collapsed walls and absent roofs. Powerfully evocative, these photos remind us that any sense of place is vulnerable to the destructive forces of Nature.  

In the second floor Atrium, the viewer experiences the extraordinary, tangible textures of Allan Gorman’s  urban scenes. With exacting precision, his oils convey the gritty feel of rusting steel girders, the glossy distortions of layered glass reflections, and the geometrically exacting play of planes/angles/shadows among steel, brick and glass structures of his streetscapes.  Gorman defines his spaces with brutal directness, graphic precision and startling accuracy. A master of line, draftsmanship, light and shadow, he captures the fascinating interplay of patterns, differentiating the many textures of urban spaces through his uncanny and superb photorealistic oils.

And, in the adjacent, second floor Hallway, Lisa Lackey offers her unique fabric and paper collages that memorialize glimpses of time and the hidden delights of ordinary places.  Approaching her subjects from unusual angles, her works reveal the beauties found in daily life: the shadows cast by a white picket fence, the webbing on a patio chair, the colors and shapes forming patterns on a grocery aisle, the lines on a highway at night. In a sense, she is teaching the viewer to see anew – and to appreciate the unique places that surround us all.

Most of the artworks are available for sale, with details and pricing provided in the free catalogues available in the elevator lobby areas on floors 2-5. The exhibit catalogue will be posted online at www.morrisarts.org, as well. The Atrium Art Gallery is free and open to the public during business hours, 8:30am-4:30pm. The exhibit remains in place until March 14, 2023.