Ken McIndoe and Connie Bracci-McIndoe have been looking over one another’s shoulders for nearly half a century, and neither has ever been bored by seeing the same old thing.
Each is endlessly curious about all the world, endlessly willing to chase a fleeting idea. For each of them, to spot a problem is a challenge to find more than one solution.
Connie’s elemental; she juggles earth, air, fire and water to give us a micro view of creation gloriously magnified. Her imagination is kneaded into her works so they are able to defy gravity, grow on walls, establish the nucleus of a corner arrangement, make us look slowly. (Connie is also an artist with costume and jewelry, not to mention food.)
Ken works the other way; he starts at the macro level. In his paintings he works hard to hold intrinsic ideas onto his canvases, to solve the problem he has set for himself, with meaning left over for the viewer to take away. He may have stopped teaching students, but he’s not finished exploring for himself. His abstractions are growing more complex; he’s looking sideways for other media to try; he’s reviewing earlier drawings and watercolors.
Their home on Burton Avenue in Hopewell Borough is, as you’d expect, an elegantly curated space: choice work of their own, works by friends who’ve shared their journey, finds and purchases from a shared life of travels and adventures, two pairs of eyes always better than one.
Connie and Ken are longstanding members of the regional arts community, inspirational educators and the consummate artistic team in all of their endeavors. In September, New Hope Arts will celebrate their creative relationship with a comprehensive collection of artworks from creative careers that combined span the better part of a century.
Connie was born in New York. She says she got a degree in middle English because one couldn’t get a degree in ceramics in the 1960’s. She spent four years in Italy and a year in Japan before returning to her hometown, where she studied pottery with artist Sema Charles Kamrass.
Her time in Japan had inspired her to make ceramics that were useful as well as aesthetically pleasing. “In Japan, most of the functional things were beautiful. That didn’t really exist so much here (at the time),” she says. In the 1980’s, she began to put more focus on making purely decorative works.
Ken grew up in England and in Liberia, where his father was a botanist working for Firestone, which had a plantation of rubber trees there. His grandmother was an artist whose works were displayed in the family home.
In 1957, he moved to the United States, and after a stint in the army, he began studying painting at the Art Students League, where he later taught for a long time, retiring just this year.
Connie taught at Queensborough Community College for many years, and has also taught at Georgian Court College in Lakewood. She has also taught for many years in her home studio.
The couple met when Connie was looking for a place to live in the early 1970’s. A friend told her she knew someone who was looking for a roommate in SoHo, and the person turned out to be Ken McIndoe. The couple married in 1973 and moved into the old Burton workshop, which they converted into a home and studio, in 1974.
For the retrospective exhibition, the artists have been working to select representative pieces from among the thousands they have created. “When there’s such a vast amount of stuff to go through, you have to think, what’s the reason for what you choose?” Ken says.
The pair continue to create new art and be inspired. “I still have a great desire to produce pieces because they give me such joy,” Ken says. “You get lost in it, until you become part of the creation yourself.”
The McIndoe retrospective exhibition will be on view Sept. 15-24 at New Hope Arts, 2 Stockton Ave., 2nd floor, New Hope, Pennsylvania. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. daily. newhopearts.org.