Local artists display their works at Crane’s Mill

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GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Students in the Seniors Studio Art Class, a Glen Ridge Recreation Department activity meeting Tuesday mornings at the Ridgewood Avenue train station, are having a show at Crane’s Mill in West Caldwell. Five students’ work, as well as that of instructor Khrystyna Khristianova, is represented. It is a sizable show, with 55 works displayed. Three artists, Brenda Encarnacion, Carol Honaman and Helen Blum, will be reviewed in this article, with the other artists reviewed next week.

Encarnacion likes to flatten the picture plane in her paintings. “Not a Bowl of Cherries,” not shown here, is reminiscent of Charles Burchfield painting the space between tree branches with a color unlike the surrounding area. The paint between the branches comes to the surface, because it does not fit in to the background. Encarnacion does something similar with a bowl of cherries and red paint. It is a bit of a trompe l’oeil, and one wonders whether the bowl is painted red or, instead, whether it has decorative openings and one is looking through it. This flattens the picture plane.

In Encarnacion’s “The Cove,” a simple and lovely seascape, the movement of the water and the shape of the rock give the surface an organic quality, again flattening the picture plane. It is interesting to note that the rocks seem to have been painted after the water, contributing to this quality. The order in which the objects are painted also seems to have played a part in establishing the picture plane in “Just the Two of Us.”

Honaman’s “Tea for One” has a surreal, mysterious quality, with the book pages defined by slashes of paint biting into the area. A whitened page yellows at its edges, and on the page lies a delicate flower of some sort. A carnation? Honaman does not busy herself with flower petals, and that is refreshing. Often, flowers are painted as if they were meant to be blueprints. With “Tea for One,” we readily see the irregularly shaped sugar bowl smiling at us like a Cheshire cat. And although the photograph does not do justice to the painting, there is lovely work in the spout of the teapot. It seems that Honaman realizes the nature of her vision by eschewing attempts at exactitude.

Blum’s “Colorado” has a wonderful use of color. But in the subtle differences between areas of the picture, it seems as if the painting has more to say, as if two paintings are being viewed. There are the central tracks, two sets of trees and maybe the ones to the right are dead, the top of a house beyond the ridge, and a central, lonely tree. And Blum’s “Sea Waves” captures the moment of shock, as a wave dies back into the sea attended by ruffles of delicate, funereal foam.

The show at the Koether Gallery at Crane’s Mill, 459 Passaic Ave. in West Caldwell, opened Sunday, Feb. 2, and runs through Friday, Feb. 28, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. There is no charge for admission.

Photos by Daniel Jackovino.