Through the end of July, the artwork of Rosanne Potter can be seen in the Internet Lounge of the Westfield Memorial Library, located at 550 East Broad Street. Among the abstract expressionistic paintings are acrylics on canvas, gesso on canvas, pastels and oils.
Ms. Potter grew up in Westfield, attending Holy Trinity from kindergarten through high school. She attended Rosemont College from 1960/1963; and during the spring of 1962, went to Vienna, Austria for the Institute of European Studies Study-abroad program.
This semester was formative for her both as an artist and a person, as it brought her in contact with the great art in the great museums across Europe and with the director of the Vienna program, American Abstract Expressionist painter, Clarence Giese, in a studio art class.
It also led to major negative event in her life: toward the end of her semester in Vienna, she fell under the wheels of a streetcar and as a result both crushed her spine and damaged her left leg so badly that it had to be amputated above the knee.
This injury did not prevent her from having a full and normal life as she went on to complete her education and to have a serious career as a full Professor in English Literature and Women's Studies at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
After her father’s (Westfield banker, Harry Giuditta’s) death in 1996, she and her husband, Bill McCarthy, a biographer and research scholar, remodeled the home that Rosanne grew up in to make it more accessible and retired from teaching in 1998.
They now live principally in Key West Florida for the winters, but spend summers in Westfield. Luckily, being in a wheelchair or on a scooter does not inhibit a life as a painter.
In addition to American Abstract Expressionist painter, Clarence Giese, Rosanne learned to paint from the late Joe Loeber, formerly known as "the last living German Abstract Expressionist."
Ms. Potter described her own work as tending in three directions. “Some is purely abstract, non-representational, focused completely on shapes and colors with no attempt to create anything that "means" anything but itself. In this group I include my displays of colors in stripes, curvilinear shapes, and blocks of color, some of them mixing rectilinear structures and curvilinear shapes.”
“Some I call "Figures Emerging," for although I do not start with the intention to create bodies or faces, they emerge from the paint in ways that are mysterious to me. Sometimes other shapes that have mythical significance also emerge: ships, skulls, mirrors, birds, animals, buildings, and planetary systems. Again these are not images that I have in mind and bring to the canvas; they are paint that forms itself into shapes that I can read and afterwards shape consciously if I choose. Sometimes I incorporate my reading into a title; often I leave my titles more open, so that viewers can find what they wish to read in the imagery of the painting.
“The final group consists of expressionist portraits,” Ms. Potter continued. “Sometimes I begin with an intention to depict an actual person, but more often I paint mask-like faces that express moods. Those that are actual persons are my most worked and least intuitive paintings; those that are mask-like, at their best, achieve startling intensity.”
Some of Ms. Potter’s paintings will be included in the Florida Keys Council of the Arts show in September as well as the Studios of Key West’s Summer Salon. Other works have been shown in the Gramercy Neighborhood Association's Annual Art Exhibi; National Arts Club on Gramercy Park, NYC; and in a group show, Degrees of Abstraction, at Agora Gallery, Chelsea (Manhattan).
She was awarded the 2010 Jack Baron Recognition Award by the Anne McKee Scholarship Fund, Key West, FL to prepare her work for a one-woman. Ms. Potter also had a Solo show, in conjunction with a poetry reading on publication day of her poetry collection, Key West Transit of Venus (which is illustrated by her early paintings) at the Tropic Theatre, in Key West.
The exhibit can be viewed anytime the library is open: Monday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (closed on Sundays until September 21 and closed July 4-6 for Independence Day).
Founded in 1879, the library strives to provide the Westfield community an environment that promotes a love of reading and ensures free access to ideas and information. For more information, visit the library’s website at www.wmlnj.org, sign up on the website to receive the monthly e-newsletter “Library Loop,” or stop by the library at 550 East Broad Street for a copy of the quarterly newsletter “Take Note.”