WESTFIELD, NJ — According to Webster, a Jubilee is a landmark celebration, “especially for a 50th anniversary.” The Westfield Art Association leaves that definition in the dust. On June 9, the non-profit, all volunteer organization will have reason to be jubilant as it celebrates its 95th anniversary as the oldest continually existing art group in New Jersey. To mark the occasion, WAA is staging its first Jubilee Art Exhibition and Sale at Masker’s Barn — or more accurately in the historic barn — located in the Deserted Village on the Watchung Reservation.
Open to the public, this event will most definitely not be deserted. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., WAA members’ talents will be on display in paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture. A harpist will lend background atmosphere as guests enjoy wine, beer, soft drinks, wraps and other tasty tidbits included in the $25 ticket price.
“Proceeds help defray expenses of WAA events held throughout the year,” said Laura Brown, executive board member and committee chair. She estimated that art prices will range from $20 on up. Whatever the selling price, the artist keeps it all.
“We’re thrilled to have noted sculptor Barbara Wallace represented in our show,” Brown said. “She worked with Fred Hart on the Three Soldiers’ Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC., involved in intricate mold making and casting of the original monument,” Brown said. One of Wallace’s sculptures will be available for purchase.
During the evening guests will be treated to a brief presentation by preservationist Priscilla Hayes on the ”Mystery of Mr. Grassmann’s Mural,s” a restrospective tracing bygone days when Roberto DaSilva had painted murals on the walls of the rustic cabins in the Deserted Village. In the 1920s Diego Rivera arranged for struggling artists to live in the cabins, gratis. Years passed until someone devoid of artistic appreciation covered the murals with wallpaper. Guests can walk through the cabins to view the murals after Hayes fills in the gaps on the ultimate restoration.
Although WAA has an unbrokenexistenc going back almost a century, Brown admitted they weren’t exactly thriving about three years ago when membership had languished. All that changed, she said, when Michael Endy came along with a passion to energize the organization. Now president of WAA, Endy is a professional artist, photographer, graphic and packaging designer.
“Michael’s intent was to save a diamond in the rough by attracting more artists to membership,” said Brown, an illustrator with her own art studio in Westfield. “You need a sizable membership to afford to have juried shows. Thanks to Michael’s impact, we’re now approaching one hundred members since he came on board,” Brown said, adding, “You don’t have to be an artist to love and embrace art which enriches the community. We trust this show will attract even more members.”
WAA also participates in the summer Sweet Sounds Downtown jazz series two Tuesdays evenings during July and August. During the winter holiday season, member art is displayed in store windows to make downtown a more festive place to shop. Members have shown as a group at Gallery U Boutique, Limani Grill and Mulberry House in Westfield, as well as the Freeholders Gallery in Elizabeth.
Tickets for the jubilee are sold at Juxtapose Gallery in Westfield; South Avenue Arts in Garwood; and on WAA’s website, westfieldartassociation.org. Directions to the Masker’s Barn are part of the ticket.
No rain date is necessary because all activities are inside the barn. WAA can guarantee a combination of the natural beauty of the woods, historic art and current art by professional and non-professional member artists.