Luna Parc and Randyland are two treasures I had the joy of visiting this summer. Luna Parc is located in northwestern NJ, and Randyland is located in Pittsburgh, PA. Both were begun by artist visionaries who have, over time - through donations, innovation, and hard work - have transformed their homes into works of art. These artistic homes have far exceeded their walls in both ornamentation and outreach. I invite you to explore some of the many photos I took, along with a brief background to each.
For over seven years, my family lived in Sussex County, NJ, within 30 minutes of Luna Parc, one of the state's most artistically unique homes. During our residence in nearby Newton, I ran a brick and mortar gallery / studio (TraillWorks) and was raising my first son. Suffice it to say, while I had met Ricky, Luna Parc's founder, I could never make his biannual open house. This summer, I happened to have a free day during his June open house and met up with former fellow Newton shop owner, turned realtor, Leigh Pecoriello.
The home was started in 1989, and when originally purchased, was a dilapidated structure in the woods. It is continually in a state of change - additions, elaborations, and collections. Ricky Boscarino, originally from Paterson, NJ and a graduate of RISD, is descended from an artistic family that stems from the Medicis; his influence from Italian art, mathematics, Latin, religion, and science is evident in just about everything in the home. The Fibonacci sequence, its formula actually affixed to the exterior, is realized is many of the spiraling mosaics found around the home. Not limited to Italy, there are incorporations of many influences from around the globe. He is a Renaissance man who is capable beyond most in many media including, but not limited to: ceramics, jewelry making, and painting.
The house was an utter delight to traipse through and these photos barely scratch the surface of what's inside and around the grounds. Beyond his personal home, the grounds holds metal and ceramics studios, a gift shop with Ricky's art pieces, collections of things yet to be organized into new art, and gorgeous landscaping. He has turned Luna Parc into a 501c3 that is aiming to facilitate creativity in youth through hands on learning / making. His next open house is in the Fall.
Located in the Mexican War Streets of Pittsburgh, PA, we stumbled upon Randyland during my family's "art day" while on our summer vacation. Pittsburgh is of course known for Andy Warhol, but with two active boys who needed to run around after starting the day with a trip to the National Aviary, we decided, rather than visit the Andy Warhol Museum, we would play in a neighborhood park, then walk around the Mexican War Streets along the way to the Mattress Factory, with a possible stop to Randyland. It was an incredibly hot day, but we managed to keep the kids moving, fueling them with homemade chocolate chip cookies (and us with coffee) at Commonplace Coffee.
Our visit to the Mattress Factory was brief - the Yayoi Kusama exhibit delighted all of us. But it could only hold our tired boys for so long; on our walk back to our hotel we discovered Randyland. It was too hot and late to linger, but we took a moment to soak it in, play and marvel at the beauty, collections, and space Randy Gilson, a writer, gardener and community activist has created. He doesn't consider himself to be an artist (I would beg to differ), but I can't make that argument with him. Unfortunately, he wasn't around when we were there.
I was taken by his story of poverty and ADHD that was transformed through his love of repurposing, giving and hard work using his own hands, coupled by a strong belief in his capability by several teachers in his teen years. Randy purchased the property in 1995 for $10,000 on credit after having gained the support of a neighborhood group. His revitalization of several abandoned lots in the surrounding neighborhood with barrel gardens helped support his effort to buy the property at 1501 Arch Street. The home is full of installations featuring collections he's accumulated through dumpster dives and donations. The irony of this amazing community transformation, is that he may lose the house due to the discrepancy between his income as a waiter and the skyrocketing value of the house. According to an article in NorthHillsMonthly, he's intending to begin a non-profit that will take over the home. His courtyard is open to the public and free, but monetary donations are welcome.
TEACHABLE THOUGHT: these homes are the results of two artists who have used hard work and the support of others, to create joyful, inspiring structures out of detritus. Luna Parc is already a foundation striving to encourage making in youth, and Randyland looks like it is on its way of becoming something similar. Both artists are incredibly focused on their work, and in particular, Randy Gilson, is an example of someone who truly turned around his deficits into assets, not only for himself, but for the community. Beyond how each has used a strong work ethic to turn something around, the homes are amazing examples of repurposing, installation art, organizing and designing spaces, and exquisite artistry. I'm still processing my visits and am sure at some point, they will influence my lessons.
Saturday and Sunday, June 2 - 3rd, I'll be exhibiting new works alongside two other West Orange artists, Samar Hussaini and Peggy Pardon, at the studio where I teach my classes, Oh! Canary. We all happen to have kids around the same age within the town and are each striving to work as professional artists. You'll have an opportunity to meet us all, see and purchase our work, watch us work when we're not chatting with visitors, and see a sampling of student work from the students of Oh! Canary. Plus, you'll be entered to win one of my limited edition prints, "June's Pearls," a nod to the ever so wonderful Jersey Blueberry. The SOMA Studio Tour encompasses both South Orange and Maplewood, along with some artists from surrounding areas (like us). View the map of all the studio locations which include 75 artists!
ENTER TO WIN DURING THE TOUR:
June's Pearls, Limited Edition Giclée,
12" x 6", printed on 100% textured rag,
© Jennie Traill Schaeffer
ABOUT SAMAR HUSSAINI: Samar Hussaini is an Arab-American, Fine Artist and Graphic Designer working, creating, and living outside of NYC in West Orange, NJ, and also a friend of mine. Designed with multiple layers showing the enriching distinctions of being an Arab-American her work creates thought-provoking ideas of dialogue and hope. Hussaini tells the story of Arab identity in a positive way transforming the prevalent misconceptions portrayed in the media and revealing the story of Arab people in a humanizing way. Hussaini earned her Bachelor of Arts from University of Maryland, with a double major in Studio Art and Art History and her Masters at Pratt Institute in Communication Design.
ABOUT PEGGY PARDON: For several years Sasha Huetz owned and operated a well known high-end vintage boutique in New York City's lower east side called Peggy Pardon. After the shop closed, Huetz started a family and continues to work as fashion stylist for editorial shoots and celebrities alike. Peggy Pardon (2.0) is a pet project of hers - setting out to create something with her hands and in doing so taught herself the art of porcelain clay, resin and metalsmithing. In the process Huetz came up with a collection of hand-crafted jewelry that she herself would wear.
ABOUT JENNIE TRAILL SCHAEFFER: If you're new to TraillWorks or you've been following for awhile but don't know a lot about me, I'm a teaching artist living in West Orange, NJ, just west of NYC. I earned my Bachelors of Fine Arts in both painting and art education from Syracuse University, and had the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy. I've spent more than a decade painting oils that juxtapose kitchen appliances and food with religious symbology, along with landscapes of importance. Over the past two years, my work has started to shift and I believe I'm finally discovering a new body of work, returning to the landscape in a new way. Some of these works will be exhibited for the first time this weekend.
Please join me Saturday and Sunday at Oh Canary, located at 513A Valley Street, Maplewood, NJ. And, if you can't be there, join us on social media (Instagram & Facebook - @traillworks) over the weekend, or subscribe to my newsletter for the official release of these works in my online shop.
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Summer is a great time to test the waters in an art class with me, teaching artist, Jennie Traill Schaeffer, of TraillWorks. I'm offering two classes in watercolor for adults with a flex schedule. Choose to get outside for a Tuesday morning class (Watercolor in the Reservation) or stay inside for a Wednesday night studio class (Watercolor Painting & More). People often come to watercolor with much intimidation. However, I find it's a very approachable medium, and I teach techniques that enable forgiveness. It's a fabulous vehicle for finding a type of mindfulness, or just an artistic outlet that is within reach.
You have the choice of 6 weeks (full session) or a 4 week flex schedule, as well as drop in options. Pricing varies due to the location. Beginners through more experiences students are welcome and teaching is adapted to the individual.
You will learn how to use your brushes, paints, water, and set up for either in the studio or on the road. Not only will you develop techniques and perception, you might also improve your drawing, and ability to compose a picture, as well as color theory.
Not sure if an art class is for you? Here's what a former student had to say about her studio classes: "I wanted to thank you for introducing me to watercolor techniques and giving me this lifelong outlet for exploring paint. You not only inspired me to paint, but my husband and son, too. They'd see me with the set and supplies out so would grab a sheet and jump in. As a teacher the gifts you give your students are truly invaluable!" -Mary V, Student
Now through Memorial Day, save 10% on summer tuition. This applies to 4 week flex and 6 week classes. Use coupon code SUMMERH2O at checkout.
Yellowstone Calm, 13" x 8 1/3", Watercolor on Arches 140lb. HP, ©2018 Jennie Traill Schaeffer, AVAILABLE
A teaching artist is always giving to her students. Over the years I've taught, I've had students coming from many backgrounds, facing various adversities and illnesses. Since moving to eastern NJ, I've reduced my audience of students due to my own personal family's needs. However, I'm fortunate to live near an amazing organization, Arts Unbound, that aims to provide an art education to adults who are either seniors or living with disabilities. The goal is to help them develop a career working as an artist.
Each year, they host an ArtBender, a weekend long celebration of making to raise money for their art coaching program. Many opportunities to create are offered throughout the local area, as well as individual artists supporting the cause. This weekend I'm hosting a 20/20 Sale. What does that mean for you and for Arts Unbound? All work will be discounted 20% for the weekend, and I will donate 20% of all sales to Arts Unbound. My personal goal is to raise $200 for the organization, which means I must sell $1000 worth of art.
Can I do it? You betcha, but I need your help. Please share link to my online shop far and wide to art lovers. It's a great time since it's the weekend prior to Mother's Day - might be an opportunity to give Mom a very artful gift.
Couple of important details:
Let's make this weekend's ArtBender a success to enrich the lives of so many! PS - I'm continually updating my site, so check back often for new works. Use COUPON CODE: ARTFORALL at checkout.
Now that Auggie, I mean my painting, "Jar of Optimism (Auggie)" has been delivered for tomorrow's opening of Paint the Town Yellow in Madison, NJ, at the Peg Williams Gallery hosted by INT-O Yellow, I had a break from my routine. Instead of studio work, I spent an afternoon working on an online course with artist, Amira Rahim, who is an Instagram expert. We chatted about ways to vary our feed. As I was looking around my studio, I glanced at my art wall and saw something amazing: the connection between the works I painted with INT-O Yellow, my older Appliance Portraits, and a self portrait done while studying with painter, Jerome Witkin at Syracuse University.
Unless you know me personally or have been following me for a long time, you probably weren't aware that I have a history of figurative works. I've always enjoyed painting the human form; both in sum and the portrait. I believe Jerome helped instill that love, as well as my high school art teacher, Nancy Bossert. But, I've always felt unsure of a direction, figuratively speaking, as I desired something beyond glorifying the body. I'm interested in concept. That's what landed me back to the portrait I painted for INT-O Yellow of my son, Auggie. I became aware of a device to synthesize with a figure to communicate something bigger, more important than just the human body.
This is partly a result of having worked with INT-O Yellow; it helped me bridge this gap. Working with a color and structure outside my comfort level (50% of all the works created for the show Paint the Town Yellow had to include INT-O Yellow), coupled with my interest in painting reflections and surfaces (the use of a Ball canning jar is related to my Appliance Portraits), made something new happen.
This was an a-ha moment for me. As a teaching artist, I'm always striving to find connections for my students. They don't always see them. I don't always see them. Sometimes it comes from outside yourself, or at a time when you have a break and come back to something after deep focus. That was this instance; I was so involved with the painting, that I had lost sight of where it grew from. Over the past year I've wanted to move forward with new subject matter, but wasn't sure where to go. Jumping out of my comfort zone and INT-O Yellow, yet again was the driving force of a burst of creativity. What gets you out of your comfort zone and into creativity?
I hope you'll join me tomorrow in Madison, NJ, at the Peg Williams Gallery to see Auggie in person (the painting, I mean) and the opening of Paint the Town Yellow.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
"You teach best what you most need to learn." - Richard Bach
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Sometimes called the Kitchen God's Artist, I'm balancing mothering two energetic sons, a big mutt Ringo, making and teaching art. TraillWorks is the apron under which I create and teach. My own art develops mostly in my West Orange home studio, but is sometimes spurred through my teaching, which takes place at Oh! Canary Studio, located in Maplewood, NJ.
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Studio on the 3rd Floor
West Orange, NJ
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