Plays By People ~ The New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s annual Stages Festival
Please plan to join us on
Saturday, March 25th, 6pm to 7pm
The Robert Schonhorn Arts Center
65 Highland Ave., Peapack, NJ
New Jersey Theatre Alliance presents Matheny Arts Access’ “Plays By People” in collaboration with Premiere Stages at Kean University. This event is part of the Alliance’s Stages Festival, the state’s largest annual theatre festival that provides free and discounted theatre events for all ages throughout the month of March.
Artist Spotlight ~ Josh Handler: A Man of Firsts
Artist Josh Handler is a trailblazer of sorts. He was one of the first participants in Matheny’s Arts Access Program. “I have been a pioneer of the program since it started,” said Josh. “I love doing it. It makes me feel good.”
Arts Access, a fine arts program for individuals with developmental disabilities, offers the disciplines of painting, dance, digital art, and writing to its clients. Josh loves creating works in digital art as well as acrylic paint. His art has been displayed at Grounds for Sculpture, Wharton Public Library, Visiting Nurse Association, and Full Circle (Arts Access’ annual gallery showcase and stage production).
An independent artist, Josh often creates paintings by using his own hands. He also utilizes the Arts Access facilitation process, during which Josh directs the artist facilitator as to which colors, shapes, and other elements he would like used in the painting.
State-of-the-art software programs including Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter give Josh the additional tools he needs to design digital art in his own definitive style.
“I enjoy what I do and everybody comments on my digital paintings and other paintings as unique and interesting,” Josh shared. “Some people think I’m mysterious because my art is unique for what I do.”
Also distinctive are the titles Josh comes up with for his paintings. Some of his most recent work has been titled “Rolled Over Tomato” and “Frogs Jumping Off Lily Pads.” His paintings are colorful, fanciful and fun. At first glance, the viewer appears to be looking at one thing. But on a closer view, one sees the subtle nuances that make Josh’s sensibilities, talent and humor shine.
Born in New York, Josh spent most of his life growing up in New Jersey. He came to live at Matheny in the late 1960s and, according to Josh, was one of the youngest clients to live at the facility. Personable and friendly, Josh has thrived in a number of community settings. His continued independence has led him to employment at Bristol Glenn Assisted Living (delivering mail and helping with crafts), Somerset County Board of Elections (assisting with the compiling of addresses and party affiliations), the Bridgewater Library (volunteering to arrange the adult comic books and graphic novels by alphabetical order) and other positions.
Josh is also one of 10 artists selected to participate in the second year of the CSA (Community Supported Art Garden). Done in partnership between Arts Access and Arts Unbound, the Kessler-supported program connects artists with disabilities with the art-buying public. Each artist is offered a path to employment as a professional artist, receiving vocational training, and given a stipend to create 50 pieces of art.
“I am really excited about CSA,” said Josh. “It gives me the opportunity to spread my artwork around the state. I will be doing limited edition pieces of my choosing on what gets put on, which is going to be awesome.” For more information, log on to www.artgardencsa.org.
The sky is the limit for this trailblazing artist, who is also working on his autobiography. “I’m looking forward to all the things that are coming up,” he added. “This will be great.“
Save the Date for Full Circle 2017: Art of Possibilities!
Full Circle is a multi-disciplinary fine arts showcase featuring original work created by the Arts Access artists. We are proud to celebrate and share their exceptional creations in painting, digital art & sculpture, dance, drama and creative writing. This year, we will celebrate 15th Full Circle with visual art gallery exhibition, and the stage showcase features performance pieces by choreographers, dramatists and writers.
The Full Circle has been a platform for our artists to present their work and define themselves not by what they can’t do, but by what they can do.
Please plan to join us on Saturday, November 4th, 3pm to 6pm
After the performance, enjoy a gourmet culinary tasting featuring the finest local restaurants:
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Studio Spotlight: Creating Art Without Limits
~ Meet Artist Dani Urso-King & Facilitator Joseph Matousek
Making artists’ ideas and visions come to life is a primary goal for Arts Access facilitators. There’s no greater example of that effort than the melding of creativity that happens when client Dani Urso-King and Painting Facilitator Joseph Matousek join forces. The two come together weekly at Arts Access, a fine art program of Matheny Medical & Educational Center in Peapack. As part of the program, professional artists work as facilitators who assist the clients in creating original works of art in every discipline.
Urso-King, a resident of Princeton Junction, has participated in the program since 2012. Dance and painting are among her favorite disciplines. Known for using unconventional techniques and having innovative ideas, her visual art pieces take on a life of their own. From Munny dolls (a vinyl figurine with movable parts) and oversized paintings to three-dimensional art, Urso-King enjoys testing the limits of her creativity.
“There is no set process for Dani,” Matousek said of her time in the studio. “It’s different every session. Nothing is set in stone. One week, I could be melting crayons, the next week it could be something else.” Matousek, who is from Bayonne, previously worked as a scenic artist for films and companies such as Disney and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. He has built props and sets for the Orlando Science Center, Universal’s Island of Adventure, and Sea World’s Journey to Atlantis ride.
The projects he’s facilitated with Urso-King include jeans turned into an art piece on canvas and a painted tombstone interspersed with flattened twine from a Christmas tree. The latter, called ‘Death of Sesame Street’, also included elements of stuffed animals that were torn apart and put back together. The bubbly and engaging artist, whose joyful laughter can often be heard throughout the art center, also completed a colorful 5-foot Munny figurine that features cardboard cutouts made from imprints of her feet and hands.
Urso-King is currently working on another Munny. Its head will contain multiple sheets of shredded color paper that she asked the facilitator to glue together into a tubular shape. During the process, she also requested that the facilitator crumble a corkboard into small pieces and chop up a box of crayons. She’s still deciding how they will fit into the piece of art.
A fan of using various tools and materials, Urso-King has her own box filled with implements in the Arts Access studio. “Dani has her own ideas about what she wants to do,” explained Matousek. “I show her the materials and I’ll ask ‘Do you want to cut it, paint it, change the look of it? Break them, cut them?’ Then, we go from there.”
Matousek’s background as an artist and designer has helped make him the perfect candidate for assisting Urso-King as she brings her ideas to fruition. Matousek noted that helping her take apart and re-assemble different parts of objects is something he was used to doing. “Knowing the tools and techniques that I used and did in the past has helped prepare me for this,” he said. “Dani likes to use lots of paint in some of her pieces. For some of them, we had to create receptacles for her art to dry in. So with her, there’s always something new.”
In addition to other accolades, Urso-King was the recipient of a Dance Innovations Award in 2014. Last year, she sold one of her Munny creations at Full Circle, Arts Access’ annual multi-media showcase featuring the work of its artists. One of her art pieces and a Munny doll will be on display at this year’s Full Circle: Conversations showcase, which will take place November 5, 2016 from 3:00pm – 6:00pm in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center. For tickets and additional information, log on to events.matheny.org/FullCircle2016 or by calling (908) 234-0011 ext. 260.
What is Art Garden CSA?
Art Garden CSA is collaborative effort between Matheny’s Arts Access Program and Arts Unbound in West Orange that seeks to provide increased vocational opportunities for artists with disabilities.
Ten artists are selected to create artwork that is totally unique to the Art Garden. This work will be distributed to only a lucky few “shareholders” who purchase “shares” in this year’s crop of fresh art.
To find out how you can participate and snag some limited-edition artwork, follow the link to our website: artgardencsa.org
Art Garden CSA is made possible by a generous grant from the Kessler Foundation.
Cultural Access Network honors Matheny’s Arts Access Program and Arts Unbound with this year’s Innovator Award
On June 23rd 2016 at Two River Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, The CSA Team accepted the Innovator Award on behalf of Matheny’s Arts Access Program and Arts Unbound at the 8th annual CAN awards ceremony. CSA stands for Community Supported Art and is based on the nationally recognized model of Community Supported Agriculture. To learn more, please visit here.