SOMERVILLE, NJ – Galley on Main, 30 W. Main St., continues its Artist of the Month series with an artist’s reception Saturday, April 1, 5-8 p.m. featuring chalk and graphite artist Jeffrey Sanders of Manville.

Sanders will greet visitors and answer questions about his work, which will be on display at the gallery and antiques store throughout April.

Sanders has been a graphics and custom sign/display professional for over 25 years. In the mid 1970's, at the age of 6, Jeff recalls seeing a painting by the father of a childhood classmate that spanned their entire garage door. It was a depiction of the painting “The Spirit of ‘76” by Archibald Willard that captured his imagination.

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 That garage door painting was the catalyst that triggered the course of events that has made Sanders the artist he is today.

As Jeff grew, so did his artistic ability. After graduating Manville High School in 1988 with a core understanding of mechanical drawing and basic art, he studied at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where he acquired the initial training required to pursue a career in the Visual Arts.

However, during the Gulf War in 1990, seeking additional training and a broader challenge, he enlisted in the United States Navy hoping to pursue a career as an Illustrator/Draftsman. Despite advice from Naval recruiters not to pursue this job or "rating" due to its highly limited acceptance rate, Sanders dug in to prove them wrong. This rating was to be a perfect fit for it offered several disciplines which included drafting, Illustrating, photography, videography, as well as cartooning.

After extensive training and qualifying over the following year while stationed in Pensacola, Fla., and throughout the Mediterranean, Sanders went on to earn several awards and commendations throughout his enlistment, including the Navy Achievement Medal for Outstanding Achievement as an Illustrator/Draftsman and Exemplary Performance as a United States Sailor.

Sanders returned home to Manville to begin civilian life as a graphic artist. Taking advantage of an opportunity at a local commercial sign company, he soon assumed the title of lead designer as well as project coordinator.

Looking to expand his flair for dimensional design, Sanders began to take his role to the next level by using his ability to carve and paint, using every opportunity to grow as an artist and expand his creative mind.

In addition to full-time employment, Sanders owns a small sign and creative services company, Gourmet Signs, where he enjoys the freedom to expand his unique brand of design.

After pursuing years of creative endeavors and exciting opportunities, the artsit has come full circle and has revisited his childhood roots by bringing his "drawing" to the forefront. Married and father of four, Sanders can be heard during football season as the Manville High School game announcer; in addition he volunteers his services for local fundraisers and organizations.

He likes to think that design and presentation should be the basis in all aspects of life.

"Whether it be signs or your next meal, it's your eyes that are the first to approve," he said.