A sense of style

Dress for Success art show was a real success

The high-ceilinged halls of Mana Contemporary echoed with the voices of hundreds of guests who came to take part in an “Art and Soul; Women In the Arts” art exhibit on May 19.
The event was designed to show off work by local, regional, and international artists in one of the premier Hudson County arts venues, but more importantly, to raise funds for Dress for Success, a program that helps women and in this case also men prepare for jobs.
The idea of Dress for Success is to keep women out of poverty and prevent homelessness by providing them with the basic attire they might need for job interviews. This empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support.
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak, and everyone shines, given the proper lighting,” said Joy Daniel-Devlin, chair to the Dress for Success Advisory Board.
Although most of the artists at the event came from Jersey City and Bayonne, a number had roots outside the area, including some from Colombia, in South America.
Daniel-Devlin said the show celebrated the diverse and artistic achievements of women in the arts.

“The event was not just for the fastidious and the fashionable.” — Joy Daniel-Devlin
Sixteen artists showcased their works in various media including painting, photography, sculpture, and hand crafted jewelry. A percentage of each purchase helped raise funds for the Dress for Success program.

Local and international artists

Local talent included artists such as Donna Greenberg, from the Grove Street area of Jersey City, who is a sculptor and jewelry designer. Debra Block, also from Jersey City, is a painter who often works with fabric. A well-established Jersey City artist and curator, Stefania Panepinto’s work has been compared to Rodin.
“I went on a trip around the world and while I was there, I suddenly found out I could do this,” she said.
The show had five artists from Bayonne. Catherine Duffy is a landscape artist who works in pencil, graphite and charcoal.
Her work is stunning in its sense of reality, and has been compared to fine engraving found in the 18th and 19th century, although her themes tend to be natural landscapes.
Linda Lioi is a realistic painter who works in oil paints. Her images are ironic, often featuring animals or classic images of the American West.
Ann Tedeschi does still life and portraits and often works in charcoal. Many of these are in black and white, and convey powerful images and a sense of movement.
Maureen Bennett, from Rockland County, N.Y., is an abstract artist working in acrylic and mixed media.
Arlene Carnio, of Newark, displayed very vibrant portraits in scenes that are particularly powerful for their ability to convey mood. She attended New Jersey City University where she earned a degree in photography. She has traveled through the United States, and is particularly fond of the faded images of the vanishing Route 66.
Darlene Kwiatkowski, from Gloucester County, started as a photographer and spent several decades working as a commercial artist.
“I like to compare myself to Georgia O’Keefe,” she said.
O’Keefe was known for her flowers, and most of the images by Kwiatkowski were similar in concept, although her use of color gave her flowers a more three-dimensional quality.
Some of the other artists at the show included Toni Lee Sangastiano, Natalya Oleshkeuich, Jessica Augier, Debrah Block, and Randy Drogin.

Art helping others

An army of local volunteers helped make the event possible, doing everything from constructing display boards to shepherding guests into the event. The reception area featured wine, food, and a jazz quartet.
Curiated by Gina Irizarry, the project manager, the show provided a remarkable range of art that included historic fashion, inventive jewelry, as well as the more traditional art forms.
No one forgot the larger purpose of the event, or that the beneficiaries who will finally get to choose business clothes.
“The event was not just for the fastidious and the fashionable,” Daniel-Devlin said. “This event was dedicated to improving the lives of the disadvantaged, economically challenged women we service right here in our community.”
Daniel-Devlin said the first art show was a good start. They also gave out an award.
“We were honored to present Jeanne Cretella, president of Landmark Hospitality, with our first annual DFS woman of the year award 2016,” Daniel-Devlin said.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group