Local artist invites art lovers to take a walk in her shoes

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MILLBURN, NJ — Taking a walk in artist Sandra Charlap’s shoes just became a lot easier thanks to her newest exhibition, in which she will display her bold, bright and whimsical paintings portraying where she is going and where she has been.

Charlap, an East Orange resident, formerly of Maplewood, will be displaying her artwork in the exhibit “A Walk in Her Shoes” at The Gallery at Green Door Studio, 321 Millburn Ave., Suite 6, Millburn, from Oct. 14 through Oct. 29. There will be an opening reception for the exhibition on Friday, Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m.

“This body of work is a reflection on home and identity and where that intersection lies,” Charlap said. “As a single mother raising two daughters, home was very defined and concrete. Once my kids had grown and moved out, I began feeling the itch for new adventures. Considering the idea of moving abroad, I realized that the world is very big! As my thoughts started to coalesce, so too did my aerial maps. This series is still developing, as am I.”

Though she has not moved abroad, Charlap did move — a move that has had an impact on her art and her identity.

“I raised my children in Maplewood as well as ran a business there. My identity was very tied into those endeavors,” she said. “My move to East Orange was the first step in finding out what life looks like alone as an adult woman. It is definitely a defining and exciting time in my life.”

While Charlap is thrilled to be displaying her work at The Gallery at Green Door Studio, teaching is her true passion.

“I was the upper school art teacher at Golda Och Academy in West Orange for six years. This was a transformative and wonderful experience. Working with the students was my first full-time exposure to teaching art, and it informs my teaching to this day,” Charlap said. “Currently I work with the clients at JESPY House in South Orange; it is a community of adults with varying disabilities. They are a beautiful group of people, and we have a great time making and talking about art. I also teach within the two towns of South Orange and Maplewood through their recreation departments, offering classes from pre-K through seniors in multiple disciplines. The Eclectic Chic Boutique in Montclair also offers workshops that I teach both in person and virtually.”

As an art teacher, Charlap has had to master many art styles and techniques.

“The work (in the show) runs the gamut of materials. Many of the paintings are a mix of watercolor, gouache, pastel and tempera, however the most recent work is in acrylic paint,” Charlap said. “I hope when people come to see the work they pick up on the idea of finding their place in the world. My journey is within these paintings, and I hope visitors will feel compelled to follow the work until I reach my destination.

“As a working artist for over 25 years my art has had many iterations,” Charlap said, adding that her art’s current inclusion in a show at the Newark Museum of Art “has certainly reflected a turning point in my career.”

Charlap’s show in Millburn marks her first solo exhibit, and she is immensely grateful for the support of the show’s curator, Emily Konopinski. 

“She has a keen eye and this looks like it will be a fantastic show. I could not be more excited for what’s to come in every aspect of my life,” Charlap said, adding that art lovers can preview some of the pieces from her upcoming solo show on her website at whereivebeenwhereimgoing.com.

Konopinski is just as excited for the upcoming exhibit — the gallery’s first — which she feels perfectly fits the vision for her studio: community and collaboration.

“I have always loved the interaction between art and community, and I wanted to dedicate a space where that could happen,” Konopinski said. “As an artist and a teacher I hope to create a place where I can learn alongside other people who see art as a way to connect with each other and a way to always grow towards our best. Adding The Gallery at Green Door was part of that growth. Providing opportunities for people to choose art to bring into their homes or personal environments is a really unique honor.”

For Konopinski, featuring Charlap in this solo show was a no-brainer.

“Sandra’s work has an undeniable energy,” Konopinski said. “Her use of color and space always draws me in. Her work has engaged me since day one, then, after meeting with Sandra and showing her the gallery, I knew we were a solid match for the premiere exhibit. Some things are undeniable; Sandra’s talent and exuberance for sharing her experiences and creativity are some of those undeniable things!”