By Geri Silk
I love attending the openings at the Atrium Gallery in the Administration and Records Building in Morristown. There seem to be far too few opportunities when this formal building opens its doors and its heart to artists and viewers to mingle and exchange ideas.
The Atrium Gallery, on Court Street, is configured on five floors that so much remind me of the Guggenheim, only it is square and has both stairs and elevators. The paintings on the walls are about the same distance from the viewer as the famous Frank Lloyd Wright structure in New York City.
The trick is that the gallery is only open Monday to Friday during the working hours of the building, and not on weekends. Nonetheless I shall return to examine the entries more in a more relaxed manner and with a more discerning eye.
Photos by Kevin Coughlin. Please click icon below for captions.
Amidst the floors and floors of fascinating art works, as I wandered down one corridor, I was struck by the exuberant hues and colors of the paintings of Beatrice Lebreton and Ibou Ndoye.
Together they created 104 canvases—52 each– assimilating the theme of the four elements. Beatrice was born in Tours, France, and now lives in Harlem, New York. Ibou was born in Dakar, Senegal, and now lives in Jersey City. They both share a passion for African culture, politics, and contemporary conflict.
Although they don’t paint in the same room, they pass works in progress back and forth electronically , and each makes comments or additions to the canvas. Their color choices seem to bounce off the canvas, and vibrate before your eyes.
Beatrice adds three-dimensional charms or talismans to her work; Ibou often paints on glass.
Both of them are proud to be teaching artists, and Ibou has a talent for working with special needs kids.
I missed talking to John Tetz whose mythic mobiles of the letter “o” are appropriately displayed in the alcoves and corners of the building His graceful pastel feather pieces take on a lovely dance as visitors flow in and out of the galleries.
Of course the most dense and challenging part of this show is Combat Paper on the 3rd floor of the Atrium.
Veterans have taken their battered uniforms and symbolically shredded them, to begin the process of handmade paper making.
From here images, poetry and prints are added to the already vulnerable surfaces. The results are chilling—intellectual distillations of years spent in battle being wounded, angry, confused, and homesick.
These extraordinary, fragile papers are the beginning of endeavors to heal the deep wounds that war brings. It is a masterful beginning, of a quest to solve this metaphysical conundrum.
I highly recommend this show at the Atrium, which will be on display until January 7, 2015.
The show is rich and textured and takes a bit of time to go through and digest thoroughly.
The advantage of going on opening night is that many of the contributing artists are there and can unlock some of the mysteries of their work.