PLAINFIELD, NJ — Artwork by Lisa Cyckowski of Fanwood was set up at The Coffee Box in Plainfield right before COVID-19 caused businesses to shut down. Despite the closure, the colorful pieces continued to adorn the walls. Recently, the artist, who is a regular patron of the business, suggested to the owner some outside displays "to give a little color to the town," and he agreed.
Cyckowski told TAPinto Plainfield at Wednesday's Meet the Artist event that she created a character called Stringer, often drawn on her iPad, and had the string character copyrighted in 2015. She noted Stringer's focal points, about feelings and connections, are the big eyes and red mouth. But she felt a bit limited in creativity.
"I'm definitely Picasso driven," she said when asked about her inspirations, and then proceeded to describe a few of the vibrant pieces displayed outside, including "Media Overload" and another drawn on granite that she finished earlier in the day.
Cyckowski's sister, Doreen Ginsberg of Scotch Plains, said, "I think her art is amazing. I'm very, very proud of the work that she's done, and if she was afraid or scared or worried about what anybody thought, she would never have sold a single piece. She gets out, and she does briefings in the community, and she really works very hard at it, and she's always been very talented, and I'm proud of what she's done with everything."
"We had prepared to do the art show gallery launch," The Coffee Box Owner Jeff Spelman said, but then the pandemic arrived. "Because her focus was mental health and suicide prevention, we said, you know what, we're going to put it up, and we're going to enjoy it," stating the pieces have been "inspirational in these crazy COVID times."
The artist's website says she creates art for a cause. A portion of the proceeds from her works are donated to initiatives that support mental wellness, including caringcontact.org, the Lyons Veterans Hospital, and NAMI, or National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, an advocacy group "dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness."
Spelman said the paintings will be on display through the summer. No more than two people, with masks, are let in at a time to view the gallery. There is no food service inside, but seating and service at the walk-up window are available outside. The Coffee Box is located at 1359 South Avenue.
You can view more of Cyckowski's pieces at www.stringswithbenefits.com.
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