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Tom Nussbaum: Home Sweet Home and Twenty Small Sculptures

 

On June 1st, 2003, the Montclair Art Museum will open an exhibition in two parts of work by the Montclair, New Jersey artist Tom Nussbaum, well-known for his numerous and dramatic public art installations -- Home Sweet Home, in MAM's Grand Staircase Gallery and Twenty Small Sculptures in the Museum's Shelby Family Gallery. Commissioned especially for MAM's Grand Staircase Gallery, Home Sweet Home is an epic art billboard of abstracted geometric and folkloric motifs created, made and painted by Nussbaum and several assistants. Home Sweet Home is accompanied by a display of twenty of the artist's enigmatic, allegorical figures and animal vignettes, including Snake Man and Bear/Boy. Tom Nussbaum's work has been exhibited at RC Fine Arts, Maplewood, New Jersey, Phyllis Kind Gallery in Chicago, and most frequently at the Robischon Gallery in Denver, as well as numerous gallery and museum group-exhibitions.  The Montclair Art Museum's presentation of Tom Nussbaum: Home Sweet Home and Twenty Small Sculptures is the artist's first museum exhibition, and offers a unique opportunity to simultaneously view both the public and more intimate works produced over his twenty-year career.  Tom Nussbaum: Home Sweet Home and Twenty Small Sculptures is curated by Patterson Sims, Director of the Montclair Art Museum. (right: Bee Woman, 2003, 18 x 9 x 4 inches, acrylic on resin.)

Home Sweet Home is a vibrantly hued, panoramic mural composed of radiant geometries and popular, Americana motifs.  Dramatically visible from the exterior of the Museum and Bloomfield Avenue, the 35 by 22 foot work exuberantly combines traditional American quilt patterns, Parcheesi boards, roulette wheels, neon signs and a representation of the color wheel from Nussbaum's own computer.  As with his other public works, Home Sweet Home is distinguished by Nussbaum's skill of employing both abstract and representational motifs, appropriate to the site, and accessible to a broad public.

Since completing his first large-scale, seventy-two foot work for the Hasbro Toy Company in 1987, Nussbaum's many subsequent public and corporate commissions enliven public areas at a New York City Public School, two hospitals, a health center, nine Neiman Marcus stores, two environmental centers, a residential development, and eight train stations, including the Bay Street New Jersey Transit Station in Montclair, New Jersey, home to his recent 2002-03 commission, Train Time.

Nussbaum's Twenty Small Sculptures are exhibited in the Museum's Shelby Family Gallery.  The figures in the exhibition are displayed on individual shelves and a painted table made by the artist.  The exhibition includes the unique Montclair Totem, 2002, a model of a proposal for a large cast bronze sculpture for the Township of Montclair.

This, and the other acrylic on resin figurines of animals and human figures in Twenty Small Sculptures, are imbued with a vaguely primitive, almost child-like innocence and modesty, transcending whimsy and sentimentality. Nussbaum brings an air of detachment to his sculptures, derived from their cool, flat coloration and rounded volumes.  As a group in MAM's intimate Shelby Family Gallery, the works possess a quiet, insistent power and intriguing presence.

Home Sweet Home will be on view in MAM's Grand Staircase through Winter, 2004.  Twenty Small Sculptures will be exhibited in MAM's Small Gallery through November 2, 2003.

Thomas Nussbaum was born in Philadelphia in 1953 and raised in Minneapolis. The artist studied at the University of Minnesota, and moved to New York in 1980.  Nussbaum began showing his work in the early 1980s.  He first made public art and sculpture in 1987, and introduced his small, figurative sculptures in 1992. Tom Nussbaum's art, including work in process installation shots of the Home Sweet Home mural can be seen on the artist's website, http://homepage.mac.com/tomnussbaum.

Tom Nussbaum: Home Sweet Home and 20 Small Sculptures is made possible with the generous support of Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker and Pat Bell. Additional support for Home Sweet Home is provided by Muralo Paints.

 

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