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New Jersey State Museum Presents
an Exhibition Exploring the Artists of Roosevelt
For Immediate Release:
February 15, 2014
Contact: Susan Greitz
609-292-6308
Margaret O’Reilly
609-984-3844

Trenton, NJ – The New Jersey State Museum is pleased to present the New Jersey Artist Series exhibition, “Artists of Roosevelt,” in the Museum’s second floor Riverside Gallery from February 15 through May 25, 2014. The exhibition explores the development of Roosevelt as an art community and allows visitors to discover the impact these important artists had, and continue to have, on American art. Featuring works drawn from the Museum’s own collections, as well as loans from several of the artists, galleries and artists’ estates, the exhibition includes works by Jacob Landau, Bill Leech, Sol Libsohn, Stefan Martin, Gregorio Prestopino, Ani Rosskam, Edwin Rosskam, Louise Rosskam, Ben Shahn, Bernarda Bryson Shahn, Jonathan Shahn and Leonid Siveriver.

Originally named Jersey Homesteads, Roosevelt was one of ninety-nine U.S. communities created by the federal government as part of a New Deal initiative. Jersey Homesteads, designed to house 400 families, was planned as an agro-industrial cooperative and included a farm, factory and retail stores. It was the only community established specifically for urban Jewish garment workers, many of whom were committed socialists.

In 1936, architect Alfred Kastner invited the artist Ben Shahn to paint a mural on the wall of the school depicting the founding of Jersey Homesteads. Shahn and his wife, Bernarda Bryson, settled permanently in Roosevelt in 1939 and other artists followed including the former chair of the Pratt Institute's Fine Arts department, Jacob Landau; painter Gregorio Prestopino; wood engraver Stefan Martin; photographers Edwin and Louise Rosskam; and others. With the influx of these visual artists, as well as writers, musicians and poets, Roosevelt gained welldeserved reputation as an artists' colony.

In 1945, Ben Shahn had the idea to build a monument to the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although Shahn was unable to raise enough money at that time, in 1960, on the eve of the borough's 25th anniversary, a new Roosevelt Memorial Committee was formed which was able, through fundraising and donated labor, to create a memorial to the man who was seen as the town's inspiration. Sculptor Jonathan Shahn created a bust of the president.

The State Museum’s Curator of Fine Art Margaret O’Reilly says of the exhibition, “Roosevelt has been such a laboratory for ideas – visual, literary, musical, social, political – since its founding as Jersey Homesteads. The State Museum is so fortunate to hold large numbers of works by Roosevelt’s most well known artists, Ben Shahn and Jacob Landau, as well as a broad selection of works by Gregorio Prestopino, Sol Libsohn and Stefan Martin.” O’Reilly continues, “It is wonderful to introduce to or remind New Jerseyans of the significance of this vibrant arts community and the contributions of both the historic and contemporary artists to our shared visual dialogue.”

The New Jersey State Museum is located at 205 West State Street in Trenton. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 4:45 pm. Suggested admission is $5 for adults; Free for children under 12; $4 for seniors and students with valid ID; Free for teachers, veterans, active duty military and Friends members (with valid ID). On weekdays, metered street parking is available, as is parking in paid lots throughout the downtown Trenton area. On weekends, free parking is available in the lot behind and adjacent to the Museum. For additional information, visit the Museum’s website at www.statemuseum.nj.gov.

Digital Images Available Upon Request

The exhibition “Artists of Roosevelt” is part of the series, Concentric Circles of Influence: The Birth of Artists’ Communities in Central New Jersey. The series, which includes art exhibits, film, gallery talks and panel discussion, focuses on notable art communities that developed in central New Jersey beginning in the 1930s. Among the groups being explored are the original Queenston Press artists; the artists of Roosevelt; Princeton Artists Alliance; the Trenton Artists Workshop Association (TAWA); the Princeton Art Association (now ARTWORKS in Trenton) and MOVIS. The exhibitions are being offered in venues across the region and explore the role New Jersey has had as a creative cauldron since the mid-20th century.

Original artwork and portfolios, featuring both historical and contemporary works, will be on view at participating venues in Mercer County and its environs through spring 2015. Sites include the Arts Council of Princeton, the Gallery at Mercer County Community College, the Historical Society of Princeton, the Princeton Public Library and the New Jersey State Museum.

Following is the “Concentric Circles” exhibition schedule. Please visit individual websites for programming that may be scheduled at each venue.

  • Boomerang: Works by the Members of MOVIS
    New Jersey State Museum, May 25 through September 22, 2013 – www.statemuseum.nj.gov
  • Concentric Circles of Influence: the Queenston Press, The Woman Portfolio Princeton Public Library, January 8 – April 15, 2014 - www.princetonlibrary.org
  • Concentric Circles of Influence: The Queenston Press Bicentennial Portfolio
    Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, January 18 – July 13, 2014 - www.princetonhistory.org
  • Concentric Circles of Influence: The Queenston Press Ten Crucial Days Portfolio
    Historical Society of Princeton, Updike Farmstead, January 18 – July 13, 2014 - www.princetonhistory.org
  • Concentric Circles of Influence: The Queenston Press Contemporary Works
    Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, Taplin Gallery, Arts Council of Princeton, January 18 – March 8, 2014 - www.artscouncilofprinceton.org
  • Left of Central: TAWA, Artworks and Art in the Capital Region
    The Gallery, Mercer County Community College, January 21 – February 20, 2014 - www.mccc.edu/gallery
  • Artists of Roosevelt
    New Jersey State Museum, February 15 – May 25, 2014 - www.statemuseum.nj.gov
  • America: Through Artists’ Eyes
    New Jersey State Museum, October 25, 2014 – April 5, 2015 – www.statemuseum.nj.gov

About the New Jersey State Museum

Established in 1895, the New Jersey State Museums serves the life-long educational needs of residents and visitors through its collections, exhibitions, programs, publications and scholarships in science, history and the arts. Within a broad context, the Museum explores the natural and cultural diversity of New Jersey, past and present. The New Jersey State Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

The New Jersey State Museum, located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 4:45 pm. The Museum is closed Mondays and all state holidays. For more information, please visit the Museum’s website at www.statemuseum.nj.gov or call the recorded information line at (609) 292-6464. On weekends, free parking is available in lots adjacent to and behind the Museum. Please visit www.trentonparking.com for a number of options for parking in downtown Trenton during the week.

About the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum

The Friends of the New Jersey State Museum was founded in 1968 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) to support the Museum's collections, exhibitions and programs through fundraising, volunteerism, advocacy and marketing. Through the Friends, the State Museum has received generous support for its exhibitions and programs from PSEG; NJM Insurance Company; PNC; Comcast; Robert Wood Johnson Healthcare Group; State Farm Insurance Company; Insurance Council of New Jersey (21st Century Insurance and Financial Service; Hanover Insurance Company; Liberty Mutual Group; Progressive Insurance Company; Selective Insurance Company of America; The Norfolk & Dedham Group; Travelers of New Jersey; United Services Automobile Association); NRG Energy; Prudential; The September 11th Educational Trust; ShopRite; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; Kreisler Manufacturing Corporation; New Jersey Natural Gas; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; and Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

The Friends also operate a gift shop selling merchandise related to the Museum's exhibitions and New Jersey history and culture. Proceeds support the Museum's collections, exhibitions and programs.