(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- In the midst of an unprecedented interlude during which most museums, exhibition spaces and libraries remain closed to visitors, the debut of an all new museum for the visual arts may come as a surprise to many observers. With the introduction of The West End Virtual Museum of Art, the team at the nonprofit professional theater New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep) welcomes the public to a project that grounds itself in a real-world creative community tradition, even as it embraces the many new and different ways in which we share art and culture.
For its inaugural exhibit, The West End Virtual Museum of Art presents "Valor & Victory," a solo show of paintings by New Jersey-based Army veteran and "outsider" artist Quinton L. Greene. Subtitled "The Art of the Soldier," the display spotlights the work of a self-taught creative who first picked up the brush at the relatively advanced age of 37 — and who credits his newfound passion for painting with an instrumental role in his conquering the "demons" of PTSD, addiction, and depression. Taking inspiration from the Cubist movement as well as Afro-Caribbean and Pacific folk art; often incorporating glass beads and other three-dimensional components, Greene's acrylic-on-wood creations employ vivid colors, patterns, and recurring themes (including a hyper-current exploration of the mask in society) in a way that "uses the materials of the imagination" to "show how we are all connected as family," in the words of curator Akana. Spanning the years from 2011 to the present, "Valor & Victory" represents a body of work that draws from timeless traditions, even as it addresses such timely issues as the recently completed piece "Corona."
As intimate as the highly personal connection between painting and viewer — and as expansive as the very nature of the creative spirit — the Virtual Museum of Art "opens its doors" at a time when America's arts institutions find their continued existence threatened by the ongoing public health crisis, and the socioeconomic upheaval that has arisen in its wake. With two "brick and mortar" facilities to maintain (a nationally celebrated venue for original plays on the New Jersey shore, and a repurposed public school building that features classroom space, mini-stages, and in-house gallery), NJ Rep has found itself on the front lines of the struggle for the arts to survive as an integral part of our communities' landscape.
Enter the doors of the Virtual Museum at njrep.org, and you will find yourself transported to a spacious environment of neutral-toned walls, soft music, and dozens of nooks and corners that invite exploration. Created by NJ Rep's award winning set designer Jessica Parks, and featuring sound design by fellow Rep team member Merek Royce Press, the Museum tour is no mere internet slideshow, but an immersive, visitor-friendly experience (guided by the artist and the curator) that is perfectly conjured, right down to the wine and cheese.
Going live on Saturday, August 8, The West End Virtual Museum of Art is awaiting your visit — and the hand-painted creations of Quinton L. Greene, all of which exist in the physical world, are available for sale through the site. Inquire about the artist's work, help support the ongoing mission of New Jersey Repertory Company, and find out more about the Virtual Museum project by emailing email@example.com.