Page B14 Thursday, April 15, 1999 The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION
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Colors Come Alive, Artistry Thrives At Elm Tree Gallery
By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
One single step into the Elm Tree Gallery in Westfield, and splashes of vibrant color, infectious creativity, and inspiring images wash over you, drawing your soul and your eyes around the spacious 1912 historical building, which houses some of the most innovative 20th century European and American masterpieces. Although the walls and inviting spaces of the gallery are robustly adorned with colorful paintings and sculptures, the gallery was once the home of a Vaudeville theater that was restored by Robin Parness, the gallery's brave pioneer and creative voice.
"It's really been a lifelong dream to be involved in fine art," revealed Ms. Parness during a recent interview with The Westfield Leader.
The Westfield resident described the gallery, located at 116 Elm Street, as containing a serious collection of art, a "canvas" itself, which originally contained eightfoot ceilings and was a commercial space.
Ms. Parness explained that the building was somewhat of a dark and dingy area prior to its bold transformation, and has truly become "a grand, elegant space" with 16 to 20foot ceilings.
"It's exciting to bring this level of artwork to the area," she observed, adding that she believes the spacious gallery with its vibrant and enveloping masterpieces is both welcoming and approachable.
While encouraging curious visitors to embrace the artwork she offers, she noted that people find the pieces refreshing and inviting.
The Gallery, which first opened its doors nearly one and a half years ago, exhibited American crafts and framed prints. However, it now entices visitors with strictly original artwork.
Ms. Parness, who was an art history scholar, was proud to note that many visitors to the gallery are not just art connoisseurs or admirers, but students who explore the artwork to learn from the techniques and flavors of the artists.
The Gallery and its masterpieces reach visitors worldwide through its current web site, www. elmtreegallery. com.
In fact, Ms. Parness has been told by art lovers who travel to museums in Europe and throughout the United States, that they find themselves returning to the Elm Tree Gallery because of the unique artists which it features.
One such visitor, Norm Grunberg of Mountainside who recently visited a gallery in Carmel, California, told The Westfield Leader, "We, for many years, have been looking for a gallery in this area and never found anything like this."
The satisfied customer added that upon finding the Elm Tree Gallery, he has subsequently purchased some of the masterpieces and is "more than satisfied."
Perhaps one of the most compelling pieces, "Man Supporting His Family," by Drew Smith, may be appreciated up close and personal in the gallery, or viewed
through its tall, inviting windows. This steel and glass mixed media chair embraces bubbles of glass with colored, mystical swirls, elegantly placed within the niches of the structure. This piece is best explained by Ms. Parness and is one of the many reasons why a visit to this gallery is imperative.
Mr. Smith's artistic furniture pieces are "crafted from heavy epoxy coated steel, painted with exterior enamel and set with thick colored class," according to Ms. Parness. Some of the most profound and inspiring treasures of this gallery are the masterpieces of Alush Shima, who secretly painted under Albania's Stalinist regime. He had described the themes and flavor of his paintings to Ms. Parness as "a passionate protest against the
stifling of artistic freedom when the only legal art form in Albania was Socialist Realism."
Many visitors to the gallery and Ms. Parness, herself have described Mr. Shima's use of color and technique as reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Matisse.
However, the artistry is so original and innovative that the family of John Paul Getty, Michael Caine and President George Bush have fallen in love with his masterpieces and acquired them for their own personal collections.
"Pink Flowers," "Green Chair With Irises," and "Albanian Haystacks," all created by Mr. Shima, are just a sampling of some of the pieces Ms. Parness offers to her avid and inspired visitors.
Wyoming native, Shirley Wallitsch, is another artist to be featured upon the creamcolored canvas walls of the gallery.
"Corner Square (Fish Truck)" and "Untitled" are two landscape paintings that depict the bustle and spirit of city life and its buildings through a calm and serene use of color.
Christine Hayman, a California painter, provides architecture in an abstract and simple geometric form, layering color in pieces, such as "Ancient Echos."
One of the most prominently displayed pieces, "The Ponderer," was created by Edward M. Adams. While most artists traditionally use brushes as their tools to depict their images, Mr. Adams uses his hands, cloth, sticks and other equipment to craft his pieces.
With color that wakes up the visitor and textures that draw the eye deeper into the painting, "The Ponderer," is imaginative with a commanding presence.
On Saturday, April 24, from 7 to 10 p. m., the Gallery will host a cocktail reception and onewoman show entitled "Contemporary Urban Views" with artist Shirley Wallitsch.
Whether one is walking down Elm Street on a steamy August afternoon or on a frigid Friday in February, the Elm Tree Gallery will satisfy the most curious artistic eye, motivate and educate the most impressionable scholar, and serve as a testament to visitors the value of artistic expression.
PROUD PROPRIETOR… Robin Parness, owner of the Elm Tree Gallery stands beside one of her favorite pieces by Alush Shima, "Green Chair With Irises." She opened the doors to the Gallery one and a half years ago.
A THOUGHTFUL POSE…" The Ponderer" by Edward M. Adams is one of his featured pieces at the Gallery.
COLORFUL CREATION... Alush Shima offers another colorful piece, "Yellow Tulips on Chair," an oil on canvas at The Elm Tree Gallery
ENJOY THE VIEW... Visitors to The Elm Tree Gallery enjoy the view as they stroll in and treat their eyes to a palette of masterpieces. FLORAL FANSTASY... Oil on canvas masterpiece,
"Green Chair with Irises," by Alush Shima. COLLABORATING WITH GLASS... Artists Michael
Cohn and Molly Stone collaborated to design glass masterpieces, "Hourglass" and "Roman Urn."
PAINTED WALKWAY... Alush Shima offers "Village Walkway," an oil on cavas piece at the Elm Tree Gallery. A ROOM WITH A VIEW… An aerial view of the Elm Tree Gallery at
116 Elm Street. The gallery currently offers colorful and refreshing masterpieces from artists Alush Shima, Drew Smith, Shirley Wallitsch, Christine Hayman, Edward Adams and Vasily Kafanov.
Westfield Resident, Joseph P. DeAlessandro Grants $1 Million To Culinary Institute of America
By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
WESTFIELD Preserving Italian heritage and tradition is so crucial to Westfield resident, Joseph P. DeAlessandro, that he has generously donated $1 million to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) 's up and coming Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine.
In a recent statement released by the CIA, Mr. DeAlessandro explained, "I always felt that much of the love in an Italian family is exhibited around the oversized kitchen table where most of the family gathered.
"It is indeed a great honor to be associated with a college which has
attained the international renown and educational heights of the CIA."
Mr. DeAlessandro told The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood that he believes the Colavita Center will be "a major addition" to the CIA.
"They are very generous in what they are doing," he noted.
The donor is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Rutgers Casualty Insurance Company and serves on the Development Committee of the CIA. He is also a Member of the Corporation at the Institute.
M r. DeAlessandro is also the founder of the Town Bank of Westfield.
Mindful of his Italian heritage, Mr. DeAlessandro enthused, "I love food, wine, and every association with it."
An Italian cook himself, Mr. DeAlessandro revealed some of his favorite and savory masterpieces which include Osso Buco, cannolis, and Pizza Rustica which he is proud to create in honor of his mother.
He revealed that the Center will feature large food preparatory kitchens, a wine cellar with authentic Italian wines, and will teach "the art of ceremonial foods for the holidays," as well as pastry making.
Preparations for the Italian mecca are exemplary. The Center will be the first of its kind in the United States to be solely devoted to the
field and appreciation of authentic Italian cuisine, wine and culture.
An 80seat restaurant which will be staffed by CIA students will be included in the Center. Teaching kitchens, lecture halls, and multimedia classrooms are also anticipated features.
According to Robert Lane, Vice President of Development for CIA, construction of the Colavita Center will not break ground until the spring of 2000.
In appreciation of Mr. DeAlessandro's donation, the Joseph P. DeAlessandro Dining Room will be named in his honor.
"It never ceases to amaze me the beauty of the place (CIA) right on the Hudson," Mr. DeAlessandro observed.
While admiring the fine education and facilities of CIA, he added, "I got to appreciate what they really do there." He was especially pleased when the institution began offering baccalaureate degrees instead of only associate degrees.
Mr. DeAlessandro stressed that students at the CIA receive more than an education based on the culinary arts, but one which supplies an understanding of economy and the expenses involved in cooking a certain dish.
For example, he revealed, a student learns that a $4 pork chop accompanied by fresh vegetables
and other ingredients cannot be supplied at mere cost of $8. Students learn how to balance finances as well as flavors.
A strong education of a food's culture is also provided to students.
"They don't learn about a loaf of semolina bread but where it comes from," he explained.
Regarding his generous contribution, Mr. DeAlessandro stressed that the Institute is regarded as the best in the world. After observing the strides made by the CIA and the educational benefits involved, he decided, "This is something I would like to help to be a part of the rest of my life."
He revealed that he has been made a Trustee for life in the Institute.
Mr. Lane revealed that the Colavita Center would encompass 18,000 square feet at a cost of $6.5 million.
He added, "It will teach our students authentic Italian techniques and instruct them about authentic Italian cuisine and also showcase the vast richness of Italy by way of wine."
Mr. Lane told The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood
that Mr. DeAlessandro's contribution has been the second largest received for the construction of the Colavita Center.
Calling Mr. DeAlessandro's contribution one of the "most personal gifts to the school," Mr. Lane concluded that it will bring the Center closer to its goal.
CIA President Ferdinand E. Metz stated, "The Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine will embody Joe's passion for authentic Italian cuisine and represent the high regard he has for his own Italian heritage. We are grateful for his support of our students and our college."
Joseph P. DeAlessandro
PHOTOGRAPHIC SPOTLIGHT... Jorge Lopez Suero will present his photographic exhibit of train depictions entitled, "The New Station," from Saturday, April 17, to Monday, May 31, at Galeria West, 121 Central Avenue, Westfield. Pictured, above, is one piece which will be featured in the exhibit.
WardlawHartridge to Present Production of Bye Bye Birdie
EDISON — The WardlawHartridge School, located at 1295 Inman Avenue in Edison, will present the musical comedy
Bye Bye Birdie on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 22, 23 and 24, at 8 p. m. each evening.
When rock star and teen heartthrob Conrad Birdie is drafted, his manager, Albert, and Albert's girlfriend organize a nationwide contest in which one lucky girl wins a farewell kiss from Conrad on The Ed Sullivan Show.
When Kim McAffie is picked as the winner, Conrad's entire entourage moves into her quiet midwestern town, much to the chagrin of her ever irritable father and jealous boyfriend.
The result is chaos and a series of romantic complications.
Among the cast members are Matt Martinelli of Westfield, as Kim's jealous boyfriend Hugo.
The first three rows are limited to reserved seating. They are available at a suggested donation of $10, and may be obtained in advance at the school. Please call Betsy Herman in the Admissions Office at (908) 7541882, Extension No. 155, for further information.
General admission is also available on the nights of the performance at the door, for a suggested donation of $5 for adults and $4 for students.
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