Trenton art is attracting attention elsewhere in the state as the Morris Museum in Morristown continues two exhibitions featuring artists representing the creative spirit in the capital city.
“Aerosol: Graffiti | Street Art | New Jersey | Now” features 12 noted contemporary street artists, including Trenton-area artists Dean Ras Innocenzi, Johanthan Conner, Leon Rainbow, and Will Kasso Condry, who also co-curated the exhibition with Morris Museum chief curator Ronald T. Labaco.
On view through Sunday, March 15, the exhibition is being touted as the first U.S. museum exhibition showcasing contemporary street art and graffiti writing created especially for the gallery walls.
“New Jersey is a hotbed of hybrid styles,” Condry says in a statement. “Aerosol artists of this caliber have come together to adorn a museum gallery in a way that’s never been conceived before. The same energy that’s used on the street has been harnessed to create another world within a space that’s relatively exclusive. Graffiti and street art are art forms that are gaining wider acceptance in the museum and gallery arena. This exhibition demonstrates that.”
The participating artists were selected for their prominence and commitment to creating urban art in New Jersey, which, according to the museum, “plays a vital role in the ever-evolving aerosol-art narrative.”
While that narrative began in Philadelphia and then New York City during the 1960s and ’70s, the New Jersey circles of artists between them used and advanced the form.
Treating the gallery as a cooperative installation, the artists created expansive — yet temporary — floor-to-ceiling works especially for the exhibition in either hours or days.
It’s a bold and colorful physical expression that fills the eye.
Meanwhile, in a nearby gallery, nationally known Trenton artist Mel Leipzig’s “Everyday People” is on view through Sunday, April 19.
A survey of the noted figurative painter’s 60-year career, the exhibition illustrates Leipzig’s mastery of form and innovation.
With subjects focusing mainly on family, friends, and colleagues in and around the Trenton region, the exhibition also highlights the artist’s personal pursuit to celebrate everyday people and life.
“I love painting people,” he says in a statement printed above one of the several galleries showing his work. “And I like looking at people. All people. I don’t like the idea of having to paint ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ people. I like people who look like people, like real people.”
He also likes to paint people in their environments and other artists, including the Trenton aerosol artists who are represented in Leipzig’s exhibition and connect the two shows.
An additional connection is Leipzig’s current work that has incorporated a fresh boldness of color and design that he says was inspired by his interaction with the aerosol artist — who also incorporated images of Leipzig in their street art.
That two exhibitions featuring Trenton art are at a northern New Jersey museum is significant and shows that the Trenton Makes slogan also applies to Trenton art.
Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. $7 to $10. 973-971-3700.