Cover image: Bette Blank, Pink Cadillac

The 2022 New Jersey Arts Annual, currently on view at the New Jersey State Museum, offers artistic explorations of the theme Reemergence as artists and craftspeople reenter a society and public space that has changed drastically in the past few years. Sarah Vogelman, NJSM Assistant Curator of Fine Art, notes in particular that “the 95 selected artists, working across disciplines and media, have each responded to the ruptures and challenges of life in the pandemic in their own ways.”

State of the Arts was there for the 2016 Arts Annual and joined ceramicist Shellie Jacobson at the 2017 Arts Annual. We’d like to extend our congratulations to the talented New Jersey artists selected for this year’s exhibition—including a few whom State of the Arts has met in the past!

Tug of War, Bette Blank, oil on Linen

Tug of War, Bette Blank, oil on linen

Bette Blank sat down with State of the Arts in 2007 to discuss her career and how her mother’s death impacted her artistic priorities. She notes the role of words and text in her artworks, illustrating the inherent story-telling approach found in her themes and compositions. We followed the artist to her favorite locations in her hometown of Madison, New Jersey, where she finds everyday inspiration for many of her genre paintings.

Though she had painted earlier in life, she became a full-time painter as a second career, and enthusiastically acknowledges the importance of drawing upon her past and present experiences. “I have read widely, I’ve studied science, I’ve heard a lot of jokes… I couldn’t paint this even when I was 45.” Her whole life goes into her work, she tells us. “I love the storytelling part of it.”

Judith K. Brodsky is another artist featured in this year’s Arts Annual. State of the Arts met her back in 2005 in our documentary Turnpike. She’s explored that iconic New Jersey road system in her work, including the lithograph Iron Horses, shown below. ”It’s got forms in it that are very much part of our modern aesthetic,” Judith notes about the turnpike, noting how perhaps “we have to change our notion of what ‘landscape’ is” in art.

You can also hear from Judith as she discusses The Fertile Crescent, an exhibition featuring contemporary women artists from the Middle East and the Diaspora. She co-curated this 2012 Rutgers and Princeton University sponsored program with her Rutgers colleague Ferris Olin.

See Bette Blank and Judith K. Brodsky’s work amongst many other New Jersey talents in the 2022 Arts Annual: Reemergence at the State Museum in Trenton through April 30, 2023.

Iron Horses, Judith K. Brodsky, lithograph on paper

Iron Horses, Judith K. Brodsky, lithograph on paper