Essex County Artists The Visual Passion Duo To Show in Two Upcoming Exhibitions

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Painters Mikel Frank and Gerard Amsellem, together known as the Visual Passion Duo, are reuniting this winter to produce their latest live painting demonstration, honor Amsellem’s brother, and display their work at two Essex County events.

Beginning on Sunday, Amsellem’s Frére, a show about two brothers, honors his brother, mentor and fellow artist Alain Amsellem. To mark the tenth anniversary of Alain’s death, both brothers’ paintings will hang side-by-side at Livingston’s Riker Hill Art Park, where Gerard, a Livingston High School teacher, currently has his studio and where Gerard and Frank shared a studio for many years.

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Frank is travelling from Charlotte, NC to join Gerard in one of their popular live painting demonstrations on the opening day of the show. They will collaborate on their first three-dimensional work.

Later that evening, Gerard will screen Vincent and Theo, Robert Altman’s 1990 film about another pair of artistic brothers—Vincent and Theo Van Gogh. A discussion about the film will follow the screening.

Frére, a show about two brothers runs from Jan. 29 through Feb. 26 at the new exhibition space in Building 509 at Riker Hill Art Park.

Opening day events will take place on Jan. 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. The Visual Passion Duo’s live painting begins at 5 p.m., and the screening of Vincent and Theo begins at 6:30 p.m.

The second event—The Color of Energy; Energy of Color, an exhibition of expressive abstraction—opens in February at the Valley Arts Firehouse Gallery in Orange.

Featured artists Mikel Frank and Aida Jones have co-curated a selection of works by 21 abstract painters. The work investigates the relationship between color and vital energy. Frank and Gerard will be represented with several paintings, each including one of their collaborative door pieces. 

The exhibition opens with a reception on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. with live music by Steve Jones and an open wine bar. The Color of Energy; Energy of Color closes Saturday, Feb. 25.  

The Valley Arts Firehouse Gallery is located at 580 Forest Street, Orange, New Jersey.

Gerard Amsellem and Mikel Frank joined forces in 2010 to become the Visual Passion Duo. While continuing to maintain their individual artistic careers, they have produced numerous live painting demonstrations—unique events in which the two men collaboratively paint large-scale abstract works with music accompaniment.

They describe this unique collaboration as “creating a third artist.”

According to the artists, these collaborative paintings would not be possible without the mutual agreement that the artists can paint out anything the other does without argument.

They created their first piece, entitled The Passing, in memory of departed loved ones during an April 2011 demonstration in Maplewood. Since then, they have made many other large canvases and door panels in demonstrations throughout New Jersey.

In July 2012, they hosted Visual Passion: On Love (The Visual Passion Experience). This four-day event included live painting demonstrations, participatory activities for spectators as well as music, film, and interviews focusing on the topic of love.

Paintings by the Visual Passion Duo currently hang in the James Buchanan Room at Maplewood’s DeHart Community Center and the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC).

Frank moved to North Carolina in 2015, but he and Gerard continue to work together frequently. Their most recent collaboration took place at 1978 Maplewood Arts Center in July 2016 in conjunction with the exhibition, Off the Shelf: A Tribute to June Cater. Learn more about the Visual Passion Duo at visualpassion.net. Prints of their past collaborative projects are also available online.

Mikel Frank is a New Jersey native and abstract painter who graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art (BFA) and Pratt Institute (MFA). He worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for many years and was very active in the Maplewood arts scene. He now lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife and has recently been asked to be a Docent at The Mint Museum in Charlotte.

Visit his website at mikelfrank.net.

Gerard Amsellem is an abstract painter, filmmaker, and film critic. He was born in Morocco, grew up in France, graduated from the University of Paris, and now lives in New Jersey. Gerard runs La Cinematheque film club and teaches film at Livingston High School. Visit him online at newwavesproductions.org.