Making Pie with Grandma

When Ann Calandro was growing up on the 20th floor of a Manhattan high-rise, she’d spend vacations with her grandparents in Flemington. In this collage, on view at the Gallery at Chapin School through the end of January, she’s recreated Grandma’s kitchen. Through the kitchen window — in its classic placement, over the kitchen sink — we see black and white photos of Ms. Calandro and her brother, from the days of black and white photography. How nice it is to be living in the era of living color, and we can enjoy the apricot hues of the vintage stove and refrigerator. I think the black and white checkered floor takes on greater depth with the use of color surrounding it.

“My grandmother was an incredible pie baker,” recollects Ms. Calandro, who lives in Flemington and is influenced by Flemington-based artists Dar Hosta, Charles David Viera and Joe Kazimierczyk.

At left is her “Lambertville Night,” which really captures the spirit of the city at night. Ms. Calandro photographs buildings when their light, color or the childhood memory they evoke inspires her, and cuts them out, then sets them on a table to see how they fit together. She mixes in a textured paper that looks like lizard skin, and has developed her own style of creating brick out of the lizard skin. Prismacolor pencils are used for the mortar between the brick, and a finishing coat of Modge-Podge gives it a glossy sheen.

Although she drew constantly as a child and always wanted to be an artist, when she wasn’t accepted at Cooper Union, she majored in English at Colgate instead. After earning a master’s degree in English and creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis, she wrote poems and short stories and worked as a medical writer and editor, taking classes to explore different media. For years she couldn’t find satisfaction in a single medium.

“I was never happy with just one,” she says. “When working in pencil, I missed color, and when working in paint, I missed line. I like taking photographs, but then miss working with my hands.” She took ceramic classes and made jewelry, but when working with three-dimensional objects she missed drawing.

“I found collage by chance,” she says. She began incorporating drawing, painting, design and photography with interesting papers. “I would come home stressed out from verbal activity, and needed something non-verbal to do to relax.”

Of her work, Ms. Calandro writes, “I’ve been most influenced by the paintings of Henri Rousseau, who seems to have set out to reproduce the world photographically and instead ended up creating a world of enchantment. Other influences include Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence’s vivid cityscapes, Henri Matisse’s use of color, Edward Hopper’s insistence on light, and Charles Sheeler’s precisionism and photomontages.”

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