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inspiration clipping

INSPIRATION

"The power of visual communication to effect social change" is a phrase from a clipping out of an c. 1980 International Center of Photography course offering which lived on almost every studio wall I ever had. This inspirational phrase became somewhat of a promise to myself, that one day, in some way, I would be able to use my commercial art talents for the benefit of something really good, worthwhile, elevating, selfless, good for the environment, and educational. I have had several opportunities:

Jackson Woods - I played significant role in a 10+ year grass roots effort to preserve 13 acres of land that were destined to be developed as 99 townhouse condominiums. Mostly wetlands, the property sits one block between the Atlantic Ocean and a tributary of the Shrewsbury River, has a fresh water spring that empties into Mannahasset Creek. Through fundraising events our group hired an Asbury Park attorney [later put him on the ballot for councilman and is currently the multi-term Mayor of the City of Long Branch]. My visual communications (mailings, flyers, posters, maps, testimonials, diagrams, aerial photos, displays) were key in garnering support and ultimately the vote to set the property aside as a passive recreation park. Funding was secured through the State of NJ Green Acres Program. I served on the Long Branch Environmental Commission for seven years.

NJ Pinelands: Water in the Balance - This 2,400 sq ft museum exhibition gave the visitor an overview of the history, science and political ramifications of the encroaching development pressures on a sensitive ecosystem. Visitors could climb a fire tower and view a 360° vista, touch a real sneakbox, get wet in a cranberry bog, discover the legend of the Jersey Devil, and understand how the level of the aquifer below affects the destiny of the entire ecosystem, specifically the pygmy pine tree. Botanical illustrations of the region were also featured. Musicians from the Pinelands played for the exhibit opening event. I was responsible for scope, research, visual direction, design, fabrication and install. Efforts wasted without the excellent research by Avis H. Anderson and the bottomless talents of Erik Johanson.

The Estuary: Life in the Mix - Partially funded by the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program, this 2,400 sq ft museum exhibition focused on the Gateway National Recreation Area including Sandy Hook and Jamaica Bay. Elements included: hands-on displays, indigenous plants and animals, interactive map of the region, historical views of the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers, artifacts from the clamming & fishing industries, recreation on the bay, an actual ice boat, a storm drain you could crawl through, and a short children's video on pollution. The assignment was rich in message and I was responsible for scope, research, visual direction, design, fabrication and install. Again the shining research by Avis H. Anderson and the talents of Erik Johanson made a winning collaboration.

Twilight Concerts for the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children - Every winter for the past nineteen years, we have thrown a fundraising concert with local musicians and a post concert meet-the-artist gala. The venue is a stone Victorian church in Rumson, NJ, that holds an audience of 300. The event is non-sectarian and the music is by local musicians who earn their living in the area clubs. This little group has raised over $500,000 for the ARFC. 100% of the money we raise through tickets, donations and ads in the concert program goes directly to the charity. The committee members cover any overhead costs (postage, printing, food, etc.) A founding committee member of the Twilight Concerts, I handle all the graphics/printed materials.

BLAST OFF! A Space Journey - This 6,000 sq ft retrofit of the Monmouth Museum is spectacular. The Becker Children's Wing offers changing exhibits tied to school curriculum and is targeted to school aged children 7-12 years old. The subjects and installations are changed every 3 years and are designed to be very hands-on. Experiential, learning-though- doing is the game – so visitors get to climb and touch. It is a very dimensional and physical space, full of sight and sound. The exhibit centerpiece is an air-inflated Planetarium which holds 30 students. I have added respect for co-designer and renaissance man, Jim Fitzmaurice. I am seriously proud of the entire team, vendors and volunteers in our gargantuan recycling effort. We re-used and re-purposed almost 50% of the demolished previous exhibit (although you would never recognize any piece of it). Our cunning use of found objects and off-the-curb materials is worth a book in itself. Born out of budget necessity, we scoured every corner of the museum and utilized forgotten properties, partially used paints, fasteners and scrap lumber... this exhibition is very very Green. The outcome is better for it.

 

MENTORS

Besides my parents, who are the hardest working people on the planet, I recognize the many mentors that I have been so fortunate to have been acquainted.

Fran Kulak got me making displays in the sixth grade. Don Cotgreave gave me the keys to the industrial arts shop in the seventh and eighth grades. The Eatontown public schools offered me art and industrial art at every grade, including graphic design (photo typesetting, 35mm camera, wet darkroom, silkscreening, and offset printing) as a freshman.Monmouth Regional’s Nick Caivano gave me the run of the pottery studio, and planted the seed that I should look at his alma matter Syracuse University.

Printmaker, Anthony Migliaccio had me assist in pulling intaglio editions on his Charles Brand press and taught me fine art matting and framing in his art gallery. Jack Rindner made large scale props for Madison Avenue (like the Niagara Spray Starch iron) from his Tinton Falls Studio – he was the innovator of utilizing cast lucite to simulate ice on TV commercials – he was surely my motivator in pursuing a career in advertising. Publisher, Michael Booth got me behind the TV camera and allowed me to technical direct his Cable television show.

I took every photography course BCC offered, was involved in the PhotoClub, was published in the Collage magazine, and loved the 4x5 camera. An early transfer student, Brookdale Community College was my hedge against the unsurmountable cost of Syracuse University. Upon graduation BCC placed me in my first pasteup production environment at the Central Jersey Leader newspaper in Freehold – that real-life experience weighed heavy with Syracuse admissions. I was the Stall News student advisor for a couple of years. Years after the Syracuse BFA, I have returned to BCC several times for courses in Flash animation, AutoCAD, and a CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster).

Jamie Williams let me apply my 4x5 camera experience at the Syracuse Area Landmark Theater restoration project. Phil Block kept me in freelance work at Syracuse University's Community Darkrooms. The highlight of the Advertising Design program at Syracuse was access to the Newhouse School of Public Communications’ TV Production Facility. My project, 30 & 60 second spots for The Syracuse Area Landmark Theater, “Make Us Your Theater”, aired thru the summer of ‘82 on Channel 5 throughout the greater Syracuse region.

Dorothy Moorehouse gave me the opportunity to consult and curate several out-of-the-box museum exhibitions at the Monmouth Museum, with outright freedom to scope, research, design, build and install. Avis H. Anderson continues to offer me a broad canvas for creativity and fun.

Norman Bleckner brought me into the professional work of world class presentation with opportunities with the MUSEUM team of Exhibitgroup/Giltspur. His liaison with firms such as Ralph Applebaum; DMCD; Ueland, Junker, McCauley; Nicholson; Pentagram; and The Moderns offered me exposure to top shelf installations like the Hess Corporate Headquarters in Edison; the Rose Center for Earth & Space at the American Museum of Natural History; the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio; and the Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. I learned the significance of collaboration behind these nationally recognized projects and that there are many hands behind the scenes of the RFP kits I prepared for Exhibitgroup/Giltspur.

 

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Photo credits
Banner: 6th Grade Display by Fran Kulak; Out West: by Caroline Jones; 40s portrait: by Mike Berry; Pakistandra: by Valerie Keddy Schiafone; Steps: by Greg Bower. Portfolio images: most all by Jeff Martin Photography, Allentown, NJ. Glass fusing images by Sandra Johanson, Tinton Falls, NJ.