Pictured above is Brian Hanlon with a poster image of the bronze statue that will be unveiled at Brookdale in April. Brian is holding his appreciation plaque thanking Brian and his wife Michele for their generous donation.
LINCROFT, NJ: Brian Hanlon is a master sculptor, a nationally acclaimed artist, Hanlon has commissioned over 550 art pieces mounted across the United States. But NJ had him first, so he is affectionately referred to by many locals as the "New Jersey Sculptor."
Today, Hanlon, lives with his family in Toms River. He grew up in Holmdel, a 1979 graduate of Holmdel High School, Hanlon next attended Brookdale Community College. “In 1979 I enrolled in Brookdale, probably because my mom gave me a good push to do so. It was the best move for me. I was home! It was at Brookdale where I met a professor named Tony Blazer who completely transformed my life. He helped me develop a language through the art of molding clay, I will be forever grateful,” said Hanlon.
So, fast-forward 41 years from the time Blazer gave Hanlon a dose of life changing inspiration, to the moment when Hanlon now takes the opportunity to give back to Brookdale. On November 2, a small group gathered in the lobby of the MAS building, at Brookdale Community College main campus in Lincroft, for a celebratory occasion recognizing the 100th Anniversary of a Woman's Right to Vote.
Brian Hanlon returned to the location where he was inspired to follow his passion. This time, not as a student, but Hanlon was the guest of honor as he officially announced his dedication of one of his works of art, a Women's Suffrage bronze statue. The sculpture according to Hanlon, is a representation of a triumphant moment when all those brave women walked to Washington DC to enact the 19thAmendment.
The gathering was held in the location where the statue and the accompanying educational exhibit will be on display. The official statue unveiling is tentatively planned for April, 2021. The exhibit is currently being designed and produced by a group of students and professors, collaborating to make an educational impact.
“This important milestone deserves a historical and spiritual permanent marker. I hope the women who walk in and out of the building feel the impact of the statue and have the courageous spirit, like the women before them to succeed,” said Hanlon.
Brookdale President Dr. David Stout commented, "On the southern end of the campus, in the Student Life Center, is the Martin Luther King Jr. Lounge. We now have two markers of those moments in time when people had to fight to be fully recognized citizens of our American democracy. We are so excited to have the statue here. So many of our students will walk through those doors, and when they enter this building it’s the first thing, they are going to see. Thank you very much Brian for your dedication and your generosity."
Monmouth County Clerk, Christine Hanlon who commented, "This beautiful sculpture will remind us all and countless future generations of the fight for women’s suffrage and more importantly inspire them to cherish and preserve the rights established by the 19th Amendment that we are here to celebrate today.... as Americans we have the right to elect our leaders who will represent us. I would not be serving in this elected position that I am today, were it not for the brave suffragists who ensured this precious right for women.”
President of the Grunin Foundation, Jeremy Grunin was present to show his support for the dedication. Funding through The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation made possible what Hanlon refers to as his greatest work, Protectors of Freedom, a one of a kind Veterans memorial in Toms River's Bey Park. The memorial reflects every U.S. war from 1917 to today. It is depicted through six, eight-foot sculptures of the United States Armed Forces members, including a woman nurse serving in the Vietnam War.
When asked who or what inspires Hanlon, he quickly talks about the unyielding support from his wife Michele. When asked who while growing up has personally inspired him, Hanlon commented, "My mom inspired me by example, no doubt. She is an interior decorator and my father is an artist, he sings and sounds just like Sinatra. They were both inspiring to me. My dad is always curious and open-minded. We had 3 pictures hanging in our home growing up; Jesus, Kennedy and Dr. King, an Irish Catholic household."
According to Hanlon, after Brookdale, Hanlon attended Monmouth University where he randomly met his wife Michelle while giving of his time as a tour guide to new students. Hanlon and his wife Michelle have five children. According to Brian, it was love at first sight when he met Michele, an incoming soccer scholarship athlete. "I was assigned to give tours to new students and I met Michelle while giving her the campus tour. Although Michele is not an artist, I could never do what I do without her support and that is why I credit her for my work too. I could not do any of this without her." Monmouth University was life changing for Hanlon. He met his future wife and according to Hanlon, met his professor Marty Ryan, the man who introduced him to sculpturing.
Roseanne Alvarez, professor of English and Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) Coordinator said that graduates and current students through WILL talked with Brian to get his vision of his work. He said it is not a named figure but a multi-representative statue. “The students will bring it to life in an installation that features more marginalized voices and underrepresented figures from the movement and beyond. The students are doing all the research and will be collaborating with student artists to develop this installation that will go on the wall behind the statue,” Alvarez said. This installation will be presented in April at the end of the semester.
“I am super honored to be working on the installation to go along with this sculpture. It means a lot, to have something that is a tribute, a reminder, long-standing, and something that commemorates women I think it’s pretty cool ... I am super grateful to be a part of this. In my research, I found there were Native American women who influenced the early women’s suffrage activists in the United States because of their egalitarian society. They will be included as part of the installation,” said Karen Amaro, former Brookdale student who is working on the installation project. Amaro is currently an English Education major at Georgian Court University.
To watch a TAPintoTV interview regarding the Women's Suffrage Movement: Documentary Filmmakers on the Untold Story of How Indigenous Women Influenced the Suffragette Movement