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Herb + Mily Iris Gallery presents "ARTFUL LIVING: The Painters of Maker + Muse"

originally published: 11/16/2023

Herb + Mily Iris Gallery presents "ARTFUL LIVING: The Painters of Maker + Muse"

(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- ARTFUL LIVING: The Painters of Maker + Muse seamlessly blends the world of visual art with the realms of home and everyday living. Presented by the Herb + Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC from November 30, 2023 to January 21, 2024, this unique showcase is expertly curated by Brian Dittmar, an award-winning interior designer and the visionary behind Maker + Muse, a lifestyle boutique in Maplewood. Dittmar’s discerning eye for aesthetics and passion for art have resulted in an unparalleled fusion of creativity and functionality.

Featuring the work of the five local artists represented by Maker + Muse, this exhibit will challenge the notion that art is exclusive to galleries and museums. Instead, it asserts that art has a rightful place in our homes and supplies inspiration for curating your own personal art collection. The artworks on display span various mediums and themes within the abstract style, catering to every taste and preference.

Visitors can explore Lisa Pressman‘s latest series, which incorporates a variety of mediums and grounds and is then dug into with razor blades and clay tools to create an evocative form and pattern. They can marvel at Aida Jones‘ layered abstract paintings that mix bold, bright, modern colors with smooth and rough textured shapes. Or find intrigue in the energetic works by Aimee Mower-Lally, featuring geometric shapes and dynamic colors. Dorothy Ganek‘s complex compositions of recognizable objects with sweeping abstract movement are also on display, as well as Betsy Meyer-Donadio‘s mixed-media collages, which feature multiple layers of vintage paper, fabric, acrylic paint, and plaster.

There will be an Opening Reception on Thursday, November 30, 2023 from 6:00pm to 8:30pm. Musical trio Blue Sphere will accompany the opening reception, bringing together some of the finest musicians in North Jersey, playing music people love to hear: a mix of Jazz, Pop, and standards from the American Songbook. Featuring pianist and vocalist Bill Tally and trombonist Ben Williams (both from Maplewood), and bassist John Lenis, this is a truly local group, offering exciting interpretations of some of the world’s best music.

ARTFUL LIVING offers something for everyone, regardless of their artistic inclinations. Without a doubt, this assemblage will inspire new ways to embrace the concept of ‘living with art.’

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Before bringing his creative vision to Maplewood in 2018, curator Brian Dittmar led Brian Dittmar Design, a renowned design studio in San Francisco that provided services for interior and exterior spaces. From classic to modern elements, Brian focused on crafting timeless, livable environments influenced by his long-time passion for art and architecture. From a young age, he honed his interest in — and love for — classical furniture by exploring the world-renowned Winterthur Museum near his childhood home in Wilmington, Delaware.

Brian was a participating designer in three San Francisco Decorator Showcase homes. He has appeared on HGTV’s Curb Appeal, and his work has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, California Home + Design, HGTV magazine, House Beautiful, Delaware Today, Gentry Design, and Romantic Homes magazines. Formerly a graphic designer, he has also worked for clients including Stanford University, Chronicle Books, and Lincoln Center. He currently lives in Maplewood with his partner and their pug, whose constant fur-shedding has become Brian’s most challenging design-around.

The Herb + Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC is located at One SOPAC Way in South Orange, New Jersey. The gallery showcases a wide range of artists bringing contemporary art to a broader audience. The Gallery was the initiative of beloved SOPAC Board Member, Milly Iris, a South Orange resident and arts advocate, and inspired by her love of art and young people. Both Milly and her husband, Herb, were longtime supporters of SOPAC, avid collectors and devoted arts advocates. The family legacy continues through the generous support of Herb and Milly’s daughters, Roreé and Kerry and The Iris Family Foundation.

Exhibition themes, artist selection, even placement of artwork is meant to lead visitors through the Gallery exhibition while telling a story, instigating questions and provoking conversations.



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