Montclair’s Charlie Spademan is building an outdoor art gallery on Church Street


(Charlie Spademan / Courtesy of ELLEN GOELLNER)

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A new outdoor sculpture park is emerging on the corner of Church Street and Orange Road in Montclair, curated by Montclair artist and resident Charlie Spademan.

When it is unveiled and opened on Friday, October 1, the installation will include eight sculptures – two out of four artists each. Spademan said the installation will stay on site for a year and he envisions bringing in more sculptures by other artists in the spring and fall of next year.

The sculpture park is open to the public and it is the first curated installation Spademan has ever done.

“An important part of my vision is that I want this sculpture park to be used, perhaps as an educational opportunity for the public schools,” said Spademan. “I would imagine that maybe school classes or other groups would like to visit and discuss the different points of view of the artists who are there.”

Spademan began working as an artist in Manhattan in 1976, but after moving to Montclair in the 1990s, he focused more on the craft – working with hand-forged items, rails, gates, fences, and interiors.

Just before the pandemic began, Spademan was offered the opportunity to work with Bob Silver, co-founder and CEO of Bravitas Group, which focuses on real estate and other business ventures, as well as philanthropy. Spademan created art for Silver’s BrassWorks Gallery on Grove Street, mostly wrought iron sculptures.

But when the pandemic started and the township began to close, work began to wane. Spademan said this caused him to reevaluate his life and what it meant to be an artist.

(Artist Wendy Letven / Courtesy of WENDY LETVEN)

“That led in a roundabout way back to the sculpture park with Bob Silver, of whom I will say that he is a sponsor of mine – [a] very good friend, the most generous man I know, ”he said.

Spademan and Silver discussed setting up an outside gallery on one of the vacant lots Silver owns. Silver had one condition – Spademan had to include his own artwork in the installation.

For his first job as a curator, Spademan said he wanted to showcase local artists from New Jersey and New York “because there are so many really talented local artists out there that I don’t think there is any need to travel any further. And I’m very excited with the group I have for the first show. ”

Spademan didn’t want to reveal what kind of sculptures the park will have because he wanted them to surprise the community.

“I want people to experience the sculptures and get in touch with one another,” says Spademan.

(Peter Allen’s sculpture, exhibited at the Newark Museum at the 2021 NJ Artist Annual. / Courtesy of Charlie Spademan)

Included in the installation is the work of Wendy Letven, a multidisciplinary artist working in the New York area in the fields of sculpture, installation, and painting. She created the sculpture “I Notice The Earth Echoes”, which is currently on display until November 17th at One Liberty Plaza in New York websitesays the work “celebrates the echoes and cycles of change in nature on our planet”.

Peter Allen, who has been working in his studio in Harding Township since the 1990s and can look back on a 40-year career, has developed a new method of depicting figures in the landscape using wood, clay, bronze, steel and stone as an oil-on Canvas painting. According to his websiteLast year Allen’s Figures on the Hill was shown at the Passaic Arts Center in Hawthorne. Allen also presented his art at Studio Montclair.

Two sculptures by the Newark artist Jerry Gant, who died in 2018, will also be on display. According to an article by In 2018, “most of Newark’s public sculptures were made by Gant, including a five-part metal sculpture outside Newark Penn Station” and the 13-part series of sculptures in Nat Turner Park.

(Newarks Artist Jerry Gant / Courtesy of JERRY J GANT ESTATE)

“My criterion was to bring a diverse group of artists with me. I didn’t want the works to relate to each other, ”said Spademan. “It’s not a one-topic show. They are all people whose work I knew and admired. ”

The opening ceremony will take place on Friday at 6 p.m. The ceremony is open to the public and some of the artists could be in attendance, Spademan said.

“I really encourage people to come and enjoy the evening. It’s a unique place in Montclair. I can’t think of anything like it, ”said Spademan. “Of course there is the sculpture in Crane Park and a sculpture or two in other parts of the city, but they don’t change. I want this to be an outdoor gallery, so to speak. “

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