When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”~ Paul Coelho

"Some Mad Hope..."
A young and vital child knows no limit to his own will, and it is the only reality to him. It is not that he wants at the outset to fight other wills, but that they simply do not exist for him. Like the artist, he goes forth to the work of creation, gloriously alone.
Jane Harrison

Jude Harzer Artist/Art Educator

Jude Harzer Artist/Art Educator
My art is a reflection of my effort to recognize and embrace the beauty in the world around me, even when it seems most difficult to find. Contact me at judiharz@aol.com or visit my website at http://www.judeharzerfineart.com

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"Most of us have two lives- the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance."Steven Pressfield

"The greatest freedoms are freedom from regret, freedom from fear, freedom from anxiety, and freedom from sorrow."
Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Summer of Inspiration

John D. Ressler photographer Santa Fe, NM
Joseph Standing Dancing Rock Taos, NM
I am a painter and a public school art educator.
While in the classroom, I am surrounded by my
most treasured subject matter…children. The purity of their
spirits and their natural beauty, inspires my work. I am
fascinated by their enthusiasm and their honesty.And while
I am being honest, another "joy" of teaching is the summer
hiatus. That extended period of time is a gift. Of course my
intention as an artist was to fervently create images during
this time. I envisioned sleepless nights devoted solely to
painting in solace, producing new and incredible work. As I
plan to return to the classroom in just a few days, I realize
that there was actually very little art making that occurred
this summer.

Instead I allowed myself to pause and reflect upon my recent
rediscovery of my art during these past two years. I thought
about my life, my goals and my values. Were they my own?
Were they meaningful and am I “brave” enough to continue
on this path, making a commitment to creating art? Socrates
said,” the unexamined life is not worth living.” Upon endless
examination, I know that my life is so worth living. Never before
have I been so certain of my purpose and so passionate about
my goals. I have learned to make decisions based upon my
“strengths”, rather than upon my “weaknesses” and to include
like minded people in my life who do the same.

I had the rare opportunity this summer to spend time and
correspond with artists who have devoted their lives to their
work. It became a “quest” of sorts to speak with them and
learn from them. Perhaps I was looking for guidance and
affirmation. I received that and so much more. Each encounter
was as different as the individual artist with whom I met, but
all yielded a very similar message: that Art in some respects,
"chooses you", that it has the power to "heal", to feed your
soul, to build community and that success is inevitable when
one is doing and becoming what they are meant to be...
(obviously success is relative and warrants an entirely separate
conversation). Funny, that none of this was a surprise, but
“seeing” it manifested through the lives of others, made it more
“believable.” The life of an artist is truly a life of abundance.
The inspiration, the process, the possibilities, the far reaching
connections, are endless. It is the right choice for me.

Some of the artists who graced my life this past year and
particularly this summer, were sculptor, Carol Saylor,
illustrator, Rich Harrington, painter, Joseph Breza,
photographer, John D. Ressler (who also happens to be my uncle),
illustrator, Marcella Moreaux, encaustic artist, Jim Inzero,
artist, Jody Kendall, artist, Dr. Barry Altmann ,graphic artist,
Terry Novatin, sculptor, Joseph Standing Dancing Rock,
artist/educator, Trish Maunder, artist/professor, Dr. Slavko Milekic,
from AENJ and so many
other valued friends and artists. I want to thank each of them for
enriching my life and my art...and a special "I love you" to my
sister Beth Anne.

The simplest guidance of all came to me from Joseph Breza as
he quoted lyrics from the famed Beatle's song: “Hey Jude,
don’t be afraid…” Soon after, I found a sketch book from
nearly 2 years ago when I first resumed painting, and I
discovered a message scribbled from my daughter who left
just yesterday to begin her college career. It said “Mommy,
don’t be afraid.” She is a wise, with an artist’s soul. And so
to Christina (our Tia) and my son Robert, I am no longer afraid
and I will recognize and make choices based on my strengths
and hope that you will do the same. The joy is in the journey.
Be fearless.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Art Connections: "Women in the Sun" at Grounds For Sculpture

While gallery sitting at Ellarslie mansion one
Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting a soft spoken woman, delicate in stature, named Jody Kendall. We had a brief conversation about the exhibited work and quickly discovered that we shared a unique connection and obviously, a passion for art. Also we had both created works entitled, "Fly". Jody's was a 3-dimensional metal mesh torso with wings and mine, a series of paintings each featuring a child, blowing a "breath of inspiration." Somehow even our art, seemed related in concept and spirit.

Jody, a fellow member of TAWA and an artist herself, volunteers as a docent at the Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. She generously invited me to visit and offered to personally escort me about the magical 35 acre sculpture gardens. I accepted and had the opportunity to see her on August 27th. Both the weather and the tour were perfect! Jody's knowledge about the sculptors and their work, was astounding. She is agifted storyteller. She spoke of each artist as though they were a dear friend with words that were poetic and meaningful.

If you haven't had the opportunity to visit GFS, you are in for a treat. GFS was "founded in 1992 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds by J. Seward Johnson to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture for all people." The landscape is breathtaking and the art work superb. Each season offers a unique visual experience of this sculptural wonderland. Visitors are encouraged to touch many of the pieces with respect and care.

As I ran my hand along the surface of many of the works, feeling the smoothness of stone or the warmth of cast bronze, heated by the radiant sun, I thought of Carol Saylor. As a blind artist, she relies on the sense of touch, to create and experience her world and her art. She would love it here. I think she would particularly appreciate Leonda Finke's two cast bronzes, Standing Figure and Seated Figure from her "Women in the Sun Series". The surface texture is sensual, almost crude, but there is strength and raw feminity within these figures. Jody explained that Leonda Finke's "women" were symbolic of gratitude. Looking upward, "posed in self reflection",their faces bask in sunlight, greeting a new day, a new season, giving thanks. Simply beautiful!

There was an abundance of art to which I would like to refer but the joy really comes from
discovering the work on your own. The art is monumental, rich and diverse. The stories behind the career of many of these sculptors, seem to have been inspired by personal epiphanic moments that led them to choose the creation of art as their life's "work." For most artists, there is no other option. It is an expression of who and what they are. For me, it is no longer an option, It is an incredible blessing for which I am grateful. I am thankful for those who guided me toward this path.

Jody introduced me to several people throughout the day at GFS as an artist who
believes that we can all "fly." I sincerely do believe that! I hope that everyone has the opportunity to discover what makes them soar. To Jody, a genuine "thank you" and wishes always for self growth, healing and liberation! May we all fly!

Friday, August 22, 2008

"The Art of Living": Infinite Hope and Strength

Carol Saylor is an artist. She used to paint and draw but has focused her efforts, as of late, on sculpting. Her work is exquisite and is meant to be touched, gently handled and "experienced." Some of her recent works resemble organic vessels that conceal delicately sculpted figures, faces, tear drops and other hidden objects. Unlike most art, Carol's work is intended to be caressed and explored. When you reach inside the clay forms, your hands discover unexpected treasures.

Carol painstakingly and lovingly creates figures that evoke a sense of sorrow, intense joy and beauty. Several of her pieces were inspired by Carol's youngest child, Alice, who succumbed to cancer in her early thirties, leaving behind three young daughters and a husband. Her absence is evident and still greatly felt.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Carol Saylor this past week.It was marked by incessant conversation and laughter. Her home and her art are reflective of her energy and spirit. I believe Carol is uncomfortable continuously hearing that she providesincredible inspiration to others. For Carol, being blind and deaf, is "inconvenient" and "annoying." She is very matter of fact about the "choice" to live fully in the face of such obstacles.

Carol's "story" may seem tragic in some ways but it is incredibly wonderful as well. The "tragedy" is more a result of the loss of two children and her husband, than the loss of her vision and hearing. Carol seems to have drawn unimaginable strength from her art and her desire to live not only for herself but for her surviving and beloved children and grandchildren.

I hope that you will take time to view Carol Saylor's website: http://www.carolsaylor.com/ and watch her two part "youtube" video where she talks about her art, life and family. Carol generates most of her income from speaking engagements. She is eloquent and powerful in her thoughts and words. Technology enables her to "hear" and to effectively communicate. Carol was sighted and able to hear for some forty years. Her experience and perspective, having lived in "both" worlds, is manifested in more than just her impressive body of art work.

Carol Saylor is talented and inspiring and has chosen to embrace life and its "possibilities".
My visit with her was a gift.
"Seeing" is a matter of perception.
Carol Saylor has never lost "sight" of what is most valuable.
Enjoy! -Jude

Friday, August 15, 2008

Jude at Ellarslie Mansion August 2008

The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion houses a fine collection of art and artifacts related to Trenton's historical and cultural past and present. The museum is located in Ellarslie Mansion, an Italianate villa built in 1845. The mansion is the centerpiece of Cadwalader Park, which was designed by the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, whose most famous work is New York City's Central Park.

Current Exhibition: TAWA: Inside/Out
July 29, 2008 - September 14, 2008
Join me while I gallery sit 1-4 pm on August 24th

The Trenton City MuseumEllarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park Trenton, NJ
Museum Hours: Tues. - Sat.11AM to 3PM Sun.: 1 to 4 PM
Second Friday: 11 AM to 3 PM; 5 PM to 7 PM
Closed Mondays and Municipal Holidays
Phone: (609) 989-3632 Fax: (609) 989-3624

New Works Inspired by Robert Christian

Robert inspires me everyday. Mostly because of his humor,warmth and his selection of names by which he addresses me: Llama, Joey, and Bra have been replaced in recent weeks by "J-money". He is a funny kid. I love his spirit and his confidence.
Robert and Christina are fortunate to have grown up at the Jersey shore. Not only do they live here, they have enjoyed and embraced their environment. Robert' s passion for fishing, boating and more recently, diving and spearfishing, are fascinating to me. Some of my recent works are in celebration of my son and his continual effort to find his own unique voice.
I intend to paint a series which include fish. The above image is entitled,"Hooked." It will soon be available to purchase as a print. Currently Robert works at Casino Fishing Pier in Seaside Heights, NJ. Click on the above images to see where he spends his days.


This painting is entitled,"Fixation." Once again my model is my daughter, Christina. Her beauty is very unique. At only 18, she simultaneously exudes a youthful innocence and sensual maturity. I am able to paint her as a young woman or as a child and so she continues to inspire my work.

I focused upon color and pattern in this oil painting.
Perhaps you can notice the influence of Gustav Klimt. It is still a work "in process" but I am becoming more confident in my handling of the brush and of my palette.

I actually like this piece. I believe it offers a glimpse
of my capabilities as an artist. Patience, practice and discipline...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Still Life with Teapot

I love to paint, draw and sculpt. I enjoy the process offered by each of these disciplines but do not have the patience required to be a sculptor. I am awed by subtractive sculptural methods. There is less room for error when a rigid material such as marble is the medium of choice. Donatello, Michelangelo, Bernini, Rodin, and Daniel Chester French were gifted and patient men. Painting is more immediate and is best suited to my ardent nature.

There is something very rewarding in the creation of a simple and traditional still life.Within every object, there lies a beauty that not everyone can see. An artist can enliven the
inanimate by showcasing its volume, form, color and "spirit." But for myself as an artist,the process of observing ,conceiving and manipulating pigment on a surface, despite the subject or end result, is what I love best about painting. There is a stillness and quiet during the
entire process that makes everything else seem to disappear. My recent still life paintings are about reflection-actual physical reflection of light and color and about reflection of one's thoughts and 'true' self amid the silence.

How Long Have I Been Sleeping?

These images are details of a larger composition, entitled, How Long Have I Been Sleeping?
It is another work "in process" and a significant transitional
piece for me. It reveals a marriage of everything that I love about art and painting in particular: color, the human portrait
as subject matter, texture, pattern and symbolism. My daughter, Christina and Lillianna, the beautiful daughter of painter, Joseph Breza and his wife Emily, from Santa Fe, New Mexico,
served as models for this piece.

The title makes reference to the fact that I abandoned my painting
for nearly 20 years. My "awakening" has made me more passionate and aware of the beauty that surrounds me, that is within me, that inspires me to want to paint every possible moment. Someone once
told me that even when I am not physically painting, I am still creating with my eyes and in my mind. At nearly 45, I have truly "awakened".
Only those who have awakened know that they were sleeping.
-Jim Paredes

Jude, Art and Inspiration