Articles By Ilene Dube
Speaking Out Through Art
In the days leading up to Purim – the holiday during which Jews rejoice, don costumes and perform skits, eat triangular cookies filled with jam, and thank Queen Esther for saving them from persecution – Michigan’s attorney general announced she had been targeted in a threat to kill Jewish members of state government.
published on 03/16/2023
Leroy Johnson Felt Called to Make Art
Gazing out the window on NJTransit south to Trenton, and then on Amtrak further south to Philadelphia and Baltimore, one sees brick row houses, sometimes crumbling, sometimes boarded up, covered with words that express desolation. There are solitary figures here and there, or perhaps a face looking out from a window. Better times might have been in the past, for these places.
published on 02/25/2023
Strings Attached: Puppet Maker Irena Gobernik and West Windsor Arts Workshop Have Ties to Ukraine
When Irena Gobernik gazes into a piece of wood, she sees more than the texture and the grain. Like other artists working in wood, she is connecting to the soul of the tree. Where some of us may see worm holes, Gobernik sees eyes. While others might observe a curved branch, Gobernik sees the undulations of a human body.
published on 01/12/2023
Manifesting 'Busual' -- Exhibition at Monmouth Art Alliance Benefits Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Honors Juan Sanchez Who Saw Beauty in Everything
Busual. It’s not a word you usually hear, and yet once you learn what the word is, you’ll find yourself thinking about and saying it.
published on 01/06/2023
With Coping Strategies and Resilience, 95 Artists Reemerge in Annual Exhibition
The theme for the New Jersey Arts Annual 2022 is “Reemergence.” It is on view through April 30, 2023, at the New Jersey State Museum. And yet on the balmy November afternoon I went to see it, I wondered: Have we reemerged? Neighbors and friends are still contracting COVID, there had been FBI warnings of threats to synagogues in New Jersey, and in the days leading up to the elections, fears of voter intimidation and violence loomed.
published on 11/17/2022
Video-based Art at the Morris Museum Evokes Roman Festivals of Excess and Greed
In past visits to the Morris Museum, I have admired music boxes from the collection of mechanical instruments. Viewing Federico Solmi’s Joie de Vivre, on view at the Morristown-based museum through Feb. 26, I felt as if I were inside a music box.
published on 10/21/2022
A ‘Circle of Black Artists’ is, at Long Last, Receiving Recognition in Princeton
A selection of Black artists from the Greater Princeton Area, long overlooked, is finally getting its due thanks to a group of collectors who recognized and preserved the body of work and two ambitious curators.
published on 09/29/2022
Princeton's New Director of Creative Writing Continues the Tradition of Inspiring Generations of Writers
Though slim at 192 pages, Yiyun Li’s 2019 novel, “Where Reasons End,” is packed with profundity.
published on 09/01/2022
Two Exhibitions Cross the Lines Between Art, Craft and Poetry
Behold the titles used by Rina Banerjee. They read like poems.
published on 07/16/2022
Move Over, Tea Sets - Ceramic Artists of Color Respond to the World of Today
Enter the exhibition space for Roberto Lugo: The Village Potter, on view at Grounds For Sculpture through January 8, 2023, and you feel like you’ve entered the artist’s studio. There are metal shelves with pots in various stages of completion, a row of potter’s wheels await, and there’s a shiny new kiln. This is, in fact, a Maker Space, where museum-goers can actively participate in the process.
published on 06/03/2022
Garden of Earthly Delights? Artists in Rowan University Art Gallery Examine the ‘Cultivated Space’
Ever since – even before – Joni Mitchell penned the words “and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden,” humans have been seeking to do just that. A return to the “Garden of Eden,” the original utopia. Paradise.
published on 05/19/2022
Award-Winning Artwork Helps Cope With the Stresses and Anxieties of Our Time
Immediately upon entering the gallery space at Artworks Trenton, a viewer is struck by what appears to be a tribal necklace sized for the Great Sphinx of Giza. Suspended from the soaring ceiling, this assemblage of gold circles by artist Kate Dodd shimmers.
published on 04/29/2022
Elizabeth Colomba Is Claiming Her Place in the History of Art
The France-born, Harlem-based artist was recently featured in Vogue; she was commissioned to create a painting for New York City’s Park Avenue Armory; she has a painting in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Princeton University has hung her first solo museum exhibition.
published on 04/13/2022
Arts Utopia in Frenchtown
What first made Invisible visible to me were artist Vasiliki Katsarou’s posts about her installation, in which gumball machines dispense haiku poems on fortune cookie-sized pieces of paper. Invisible – besides being the state of eluding observation – is an exhibition at ArtYard in Frenchtown (on view through April 10) that looks at “omitted histories and unspoken narratives” through the work of 12 artists.
published on 03/23/2022
Every Blanket Tells a Story and Every Stitch is a Unique Voice in the World of Seneca Nation Artist Marie Watt, On View at the Hunterdon Art Museum
It’s the time of the year when many of us feel like hibernating, perhaps under a favorite blanket or two. It seems fitting, then, that the Hunterdon Museum of Art is featuring the artist Marie Watt, known for her totemic assemblages of wool blankets, in the exhibition Companion Species (At What Cost): The Works of Marie Watt, on view through January 9, 2022.
published on 12/21/2021
Climate Artists and Scientists from Mongolia Attempt to Communicate What Others Have Not
When I went to Google Maps to see how long it would take to get to Mongolia, the app could not calculate – not by bus, not by car, not walking, cycling, even plane. When I simply Googled the distance, I learned it is 6,426 miles from New Jersey. That’s more than twice the distance across the United States. A site called Travel Math calculates it would take 13.9 hours to fly from Newark to Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia is really far away! That could explain why its climate catastrophe is not top of mind for most of us here in the Garden State.
published on 11/19/2021
Navajo Weavings at Montclair Art Museum Reveal Innovations in Color and Abstraction
The debate over whether it was Kandinsky or Hilma af Klint who created the first abstract painting falls into perspective when visiting Color Riot! How Color Changed Navajo Textiles, on view at the Montclair Art Museum through January 2, 2022.
published on 09/30/2021
Grounds For Sculpture is Back with a 60-Year Retrospective of One of its Original Artists
Back in the day – the “before times” – while meandering through the nooks and crannies, portals and mounds, at Grounds For Sculpture, I’d fear a future in which a natural disaster might befall this utopian garden of contemporary art, allowing it to fall into ruins: a possible disease that would confine people to their homes? A loss of revenue? The death of a founder?
published on 08/19/2021
Utopia or Dystopia? Book Artists Respond to the World We Live In
Simple Pleasures – it’s the brand of pink hand soap at the Hunterdon Art Museum, and also a recurring theme for those seeking to regain life post pause. On a recent summer day, young ones were experiencing the simple pleasures of returning to camp in a white tent alongside the Raritan River.
published on 07/09/2021
Fifty-one Years in the Making: Peters Valley Is Back
Enrolling in a workshop at Peters Valley School of Craft was like taking a journey back in time. You could have an immersion experience studying, say, blacksmithing, ceramics or weaving, living communally in the historic village of Bevans in Layton, N.J.
published on 06/20/2021
Operating Without Walls While Building Anew at Princeton University Art Museum
When museums that closed their doors during the pandemic re-open, the Princeton University Art Museum will not be among them. In 2018, the thriving institution announced that Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye, in collaboration with executive architects Cooper Robertson, would be designing “a bold and welcoming new museum.”
published on 05/01/2021
McCarter Theatre’s "The Manic Monologues" Rises to an Ambitious Agenda in Virtual Theatre Programming and Mental Health Advocacy
Enter the virtual space to experience McCarter Theatre’s The Manic Monologues and, accompanied by gentle music, you approach a mobile of silhouettes—a dancer, a sax player, athletes, a woman carrying an umbrella. Click the silhouettes to see their stories performed.
published on 03/31/2021