Deptford Twp. – Four fine artists with a contemporary flair will fill the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery at Gloucester County College with inimitable creations for public view beginning Friday, Sept. 6 at 12 p.m.
During the two-hour reception, guests will mingle with South Jersey-based artists Dan Dennison, Amanda McCutcheon, Diane Paul and Philadelphian Heather Raquel Phillips as well as enjoy light refreshments and live music by jazz great Sonny Troy.
The art on display varies in scope from hand-crafted raw materials to oil paintings.
Dennison, a sculptor, takes to heart the adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” A self-employed iron worker with more than 40 years of experience, he found himself with free time on his hands during the recession. It was then that he saw the potential in the scrap metal lying around his shop. Dennison has since embarked on a second career recycling metal and turning raw materials into fine art for others to enjoy.
“I just like to play with shapes. At the heart of my art is a striving to take seemingly random metal pieces and use them to create balance,” said Dennison. “Steel is on the one hand strong and unyielding yet on the other it is amazingly pliable. To that end I’m driven to create sculpture, large and small, using recycled metal that is destined for the scrap yard.”
A graduate of Columbia University, McCutcheon earned her Master of Fine Arts. She has also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, Bryn Mawr College and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. Her primary point of interest is portraiture and traditional American art.
“I’m always working to synthesize the formal aspects of painting with the psychological complexity of the subject,” said McCutcheon. “Portraits are both windows and mirrors. They speak to us across boundaries of time, geography, class, race and religion. It is my intent that my paintings succeed in telling stories about their subjects and contemporary life in a way that relates to the viewer with humor and optimism.”
Noted for painting local bar scenes and landscapes, Paul is a South Jersey-based artist and educator. Her creative exploits brought her to Rutgers University – Camden where she obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts, in addition to collaboration with the Samuel S. Fletcher Art Memorial and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. As an educator she urges her students to expand and explore their sense of light.
“My inspiration for the series I’m showcasing at Gloucester County College came last fourth of July when I was waiting for the fireworks to start,” said Paul. “I saw groups of shadowy figures walking around, some of whom had intriguing ‘under-lighting’ being cast by their cell phones. I realized there were cell phones everywhere I looked. I’ve always been inspired by light. I could not help but to include it in my art.”
Phillips has a long-running reputation as a daydreamer. A graduate of the Tyler School of Art, her photography is stimulated by cinema, including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Themes often have a firm opposition to traditional views of gender, race, class, geography and sexuality.
“As an adult I make use of my imaginary world by bringing to life the theatre of my headspace, mainly through staged portraiture,” said Phillips. “I try to combine a world of make believe and brass tacks. Parts of it become attractive, other parts grotesque. I create vibrant colored dreamscapes with an abundance of disturbances from misinformed youth, a strong sense of denial and self-centered fear.”
The exhibit runs until Friday, Oct. 11 in the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery, located in the Eugene J. McCaffrey College Center mezzanine. Operating hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 856-415-2122.
Gloucester County College’s 250-acre campus is located at 1400 Tanyard Road in Deptford, right off Exit 56 of Route 55.