Color Theory

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Color Theory
Curated by: Sandy Martiny

Department of Recreation & Cultural Affairs
Baird Center - 5 Mead Street
South Orange, NJ 08812
November 2nd, 2017 - December 2nd, 2017
Opening: October 25th, 2017 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM

No Fee


The Pierro Gallery Presents “Color Theory”

An art exhibition featuring Santiago Cohen, Robert Forman, Jan Huling, Deb Mell

Pierro Gallery

5 Mead Street

South Orange, NJ 07079

November 2- December 2, 2017

Opening Celebration Thursday November 2, 7-9pm

Public Program: ArtStory: A demonstration of artist’s technique Saturday December 2, 2017 from 1-3pm.

Exhibiting artists are Santiago Cohen, Robert Forman, Jan Huling, Deb Mell. Curated by Sandy Martiny

Gallery hours: Monday-Thursday 11am-4pm and by appointment. Free Group tours by appointment. Contact


The Pierro Gallery presents Color Theory, an exhibition of paintings, prints, sculpture and collage that examine different ways of making and using color.  Each of the four exhibiting artists exploits color in the customary ways: to create pattern, to define form, to symbolize and codify ideas, to describe, enhance and delight. Conversely, they approach their materials in very different and surprising ways. The colorful stuff that makes this art is the material of everyday life transformed into stories, portraits of people, friendly monsters, birds and animals. And while each of the works exhibit an artist’s particular obsession with materials and form, all reveal lives lived thoroughly and thoughtfully, through the practice of their art. 


Santiago Cohen’s work is mysteriously funny and friendly. It is bold and cinematic.  Rather than redescribe the world we can already see with our eyes, Cohen lives large with color, using it imaginatively, to define the world of each painting. His beautiful oil paintings feel fuzzy around the edges of your brain, like something remembered or something you once knew. They often reference the artist’s family history reconstituted through old photographs and the long ago haze of child hood impressions. In other works the subject matter pushes into the now and the paintings act as commentary on today’s pressing issues. Whether the content is the past or the present, each painting is evidence of the artist’s quest to understand and describe what it is to be alive today. 


Born and raised in Mexico City and now living in Jersey City, NJ, Cohen is an award winning artist, illustrator and animator. His work has been published in major US newspapers and magazines. He was an art director for the Ink Tank Animation Company in New York under the wing of R. O. Blechman where he designed 24 animated episodes of Troubles the Cat for the Cartoon Network and CTW (Children Television Network), designed and animated Children Shorts films for HBO (two of the programs won an Emmy and a Peabody award), he designed openers for the French TF!. Over the last 10 years he has illustrated close to 20 children's books for editorial companies like Marshall Cavendish, Viking, GP Putnam, Zanner-Bloser, Houghton Mifflin, Warner, Golden Books, Zondervon, Chronicle, Blue Apple books and Skypony. He received a grant from the Xeric Foundation to self-publish his graphic novel "The Fifth Name". As a fine artist Santiago has individual and collective art shows in galleries and museums in New Jersey,  New York and Mexico. Santiago was the artist in residence for the RNA in Jersey City for two years in charge of the Day of the Dead big puppet parade. In January 2015 he completed a mural in Gateway South Orange.


Robert Forman makes complex “paintings” from thread and glue, a painstaking process that you might imagine would result in small precious works of art. The works in this show defy that logic. For Color Theory, Robert has created a series of masterful almost life size pictures of “blended” portraits.  He layers several images of opposing subjects (man and wife, for example) and then precisely renders them using the color, sheen, and texture of very fine strands of thread. The surfaces could be described as precious and jewel like, but the ideas and feelings imbedded in the images reveal a large shimmering, moving, and unmistakable respect for the complexities of human nature.


Forman lives and works in a converted firehouse in Hoboken, not far from where he was born in Jersey City. He first discovered the appeal of painting with string in high school when, while making an ordinary painting, he started to apply his mother’s embroidery thread to the surface. His fascination with thread as a medium continued into art school at the prestigious Cooper Union in New York City.  Not confident of his technique’s legitimacy, he kept his thread projects to himself until finally one day under pressure of an impending assignment deadline he showed a work to his painting teacher. Impressed, his professor deemed the image a “painting” and Forman continued to pursue his special technique.  Twenty years after making his first thread painting, he chanced upon Huichol thread work in a flea market. In 1992, he went to Mexico as a Fulbright Scholar to meet the Huichols and study their culture and technique. He maintains a relationship with the community today. Forman’s work is in numerous public and private collections including the Renwick Gallery, National Museum of American Art, Washington D.C., The Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, NJ and the White House collection, Washington D.C. He has received a Fulbright Fellowship, a grant from the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation among other honors.


Jan Huling uses color to radicalize form. Her medium of choice: beads glued onto a three dimensional substrate. Her technique: extreme pattern and decoration. While Robert Forman creates paintings with thread, and Santiago Cohen presents us with stories as paintings, Jan Huling transforms iconic objects from popular culture into amazing creatures of fancy that delight and coerce viewers into embracing the imaginary. It’s not Jan Huling’s world you enter when you look at this work. It is your personal world, triggered by recognizing these familiar forms wrapped in beautiful mysteries.  For Color Theory, Jan will assemble a flock of magical birds, transforming a small gallery room into an aviary from a fairy tale.


Jan Huling was born in Chicago and raised in St. Louis. She now lives in Hoboken, NJ. After attending the Kansas City Art Institute she started her art career designing greeting cards. Later, she worked in New York City as a product designer, children’s book author and most recently, beadist. She has traveled extensively in Mexico and India and this, along with her insatiable curiosity about the world of color, pattern, humor, lore and legend feeds her work. Huling is represented by the Duane Reed Gallery and regularly shows her work at SCOPE Miami, SOFA Chicago, ArtMarket San Francisco, and at the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair among numerous other Art Fairs and Markets. More locally she has exhibited the Hunterdon Museum Clinton, NJ, Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, MA, Porter Contemporary in NYC, the Noyes Museum, Oceanville, NJ, the Jersey City Museum and the Montclair Museum. She currently has a monumental piece on exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.


Everything is fair game. That’s how Deb Mell views the physical materials she uses to make art. That’s how she characterizes the content of her work. No rules, really. Stunning, complicated, seductive and somewhat off kilter, Deb Mell’s works intrude into your consciousness. Flashy colors, shiny surfaces, repetitive elements collected from everywhere seduce the viewer into looking and looking. But beware- these friendly monstrosities pack a punch.  You know these images. You’ve seen them before, at night, in the corners, under the bed, behind the curtain. They are us, actually. Mell takes the time each evening after dinner to draw a portrait of someone she’s seen during the day. The portraits take liberties with the usual notion of portraiture, exhibiting both animal and human attributes in the rayon colors of the crayon box. The artist takes liberties with convention to describe a remembered impression of a stranger. It’s primal. It’s benevolent.  She takes the same liberties with herself and her past in larger works, exploring family history and lore in symbolic language and glorious compositions that get you to scratch your head thoughtfully after you rub the dazzle out of your eyes.


Deb Mell grew up in Collinsville, Ill and currently lives in Truro MA. She has exhibited widely throughout New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Louisiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and in Denmark, and was the recipient of the Dodge Foundation Fellowship for Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 1999, 2001, and 2003.  Local people will recognize her name and her work from her long time association with the Book Arts Roundtable.  Her education includes studies at Illinois State University, Brooklyn Museum Art School, and in Garrigues, France. Her work can be seen in the collections of SUNY Plattsburg, Plattsburg NY, Sweet Briar College, Amherst Virginia, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, Illinois State University, Normal Ill, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton NJ, and the Pat Bell Collection, South Orange NJ


Founded in 1994, the Pierro Gallery of South Orange (PGOSO) presents the work of diverse, established, and emerging visual artists in a non-commercial, user-friendly venue. Through its programs and exhibitions, PGOSO enhances the cultural environment of South Orange and the surrounding communities aiming to educate, enrich and engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds. PGOSO is a facility of the South Orange Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs.



Sandy Martiny

Director of Cultural Affairs and Director of the Pierro Gallery of South Orange

Recreation and Cultural Affairs, South Orange, NJ




Sandy Martiny

Director of Cultural Affairs

Village of South Orange

Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs

5 Mead Street

South Orange, NJ 07079

973-378-7754 X 2323

Fax: 9973 378 7833



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