COPYRIGHT © The Times of Trenton 2007
Date: 2007/04/06 Friday Page: G17 Section: GOOD TIMES Edition: FINAL
Hopewell Exhibit Depicts the Roads Less Painted
Paintings by Joe Kazimierczyk
Where: Hopewell Frame Shop, 24 W. Broad St., Hopewell Borough
When: Through April 28. Hours: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tue-Fri and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sat.
Contact: (609) 466-0817 or hopewellframeshop.com
By JANET PURCELL
This might sound odd, but bicycling is a big factor in my painting," says Joe Kazimierczyk - or "Joe Kaz," as he's better known - who is exhibiting oil and acrylic landscape paintings at the Hopewell Frame Shop.
An avid cyclist, Kazimierczyk says he's ridden and been inspired by the back roads within a 40-mile radius of where he lives in the Sourland Mountains. "I think it's why so many of my paintings feature roadways and why I have a fascination with shadows streaking across country roads," he says.
This exhibit has various examples of the roads Kazimierczyk travels - the downhill slopes, the bends and curves, the trees and fences that run along their borders. There also are the farmhouses, barns and silos of the bucolic region of New Jersey that Kazimierczyk calls home.
"People have come in (to the exhibit) and asked me, 'Is this New Jersey?'" says the frame shop's owner, Abby Franz. "They don't expect to see these kinds of pictures that so accurately reflect parts of New Jersey."
Although the paintings do accurately portray some of New Jersey's most beautiful back roads and byways, they do so with painterly realism, rather than in a photo realism manner. When Kazimierczyk shows the bare trees of winter, their limbs and branches are soft traceries against the sky. He does not define all the edges of the stone in a crumbling wall, nor every precise twist and turn of the railings on a farmhouse porch. Instead, using color and a keen sense of light and shadow, he offers a view very much like one would get while bicycling slowly past - realistic, but softened.
A standout painting is "Cider Mill Farm," in which farm buildings and silos stand against a yellow/white sky whose light rests on the roof tops and rounded silo domes.
"Otto's Farm" is another that is outstanding. In this, a high horizon allows a long view of golden fields, sun-kissed trees and far-distant blue hills.
When Kazimierczyk first began painting, he worked only from photographs. When he began painting en plein air in the early 1990s, he says it was "a real eye-opener."
"Observing directly from nature is extremely important for painting the type of realism I strive for," he says. "You don't realize how much information is not captured by a photograph until you've painted from life. Painting en plein air, my focus is on observing nature and translating what I see before me into paint while facing the challenges of quickly changing light, changing weather, biting insects, etc."
When time and weather keep him indoors, he works in his studio painting from his small sketches and photographs.
"My outdoor work is about painting what's in front of me. My indoor work, although it's still realism, is more about painting what's inside my head," he says.
Except for a few evening classes, Kazimierczyk is a self-taught artist. "As a teenager, I probably read every book on art instruction at the local library," he says, mentioning "the subtlety of (Camille) Pissarro and the boldness of (Pierre) Bonnard" as having influenced him, as well as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner. "Turner's mastery of light and atmosphere always astounds me, and Constable's small oil sketches are simply brilliant, especially his skies," he adds.
One can see those influences in the paintings in this exhibit. He is very adept at portraying shadow and light. Note especially "Stony Brook Barn" and "Amwell Afternoon," which portray a red barn and white farmhouse bathed in afternoon light.
Also note Kazimierczyk's use of color. In close-up views of grasses growing along the side of roads, notice that the grass is not just green. It's a whole rainbow of nature's colors that give it life. And there's a group of his most recent studio oils in which he says he "played a lot with color and started with an intense red underpainting."
One of these is "Montgomery Windows. The 1860 House, Skillman." Here he has allowed the red underpainting to show along the edges of violet/gray fence posts, to accent the violet-shaded building, and to add to reflections in the windows.
It's interesting to note that no figures appear in Kazimierczyk's landscapes. Never is there a jogger, biker or even a car coming around a bend.
"Painting outdoors, I tend to seek out the quiet places - the solitude is one of the things I most enjoy about working this way," he explains. "Because of this, my paintings usually don't include people, but I've fallen into the habit of leaving people out even when they're there. I've painted some townscapes in Lambertville and Frenchtown and it doesn't even occur to me until the painting's done that I didn't include the people."
However, he says he has two friends who would like to be fly fishing in every stream he paints. "We'll see what happens this summer," he says.