Preserve with Paint

Twenty-two plein air painters will come to Princeton’s Mountain Lakes Preserve, Route 206 and Mountain Avenue, to capture the beauty of the lakes, woods, fields, and the nine miles of trails traverse the preserve and connected lands on canvas on Oct. 4. Friends of Princeton Open Space will celebrate its 40th anniversary with this community building event, Preserve with Paint. (At left: a painting by Ryan Lilienthal.)

The public is invited to watch the painters work at any point throughout the day beginning at 7:30 a.m. Come in the morning to see how the painters organize their designs on a blank canvas. Visit in the afternoon to observe how the painters’ artwork has progressed. Return at 5 p.m. for a reception at Mountain Lakes House which will include wine, hors d’oeuvres, music and a silent auction of the completed paintings. There will be no charge to attend the reception, but R.S.V. P. at 609-497-1331. Free trail maps will be available throughout the day at Mountain Lakes House.

Participating artists include: Stephanie Amato, Julie Bagshaw, Al Barker, D. Elienne Basa, Rosemary Blair, Mike Budden, Pat Carthage, Kate Graves, Rick Hasney, L. Diane Johnson, Carol Manochio, Jinnie May, Lucy McVickers, Meg Michaels, Walther Lynn Mosley, Donna Reed, Joan Shearer- Miller, Judy Stach, John R. Stinger, Susan Summer, Doreen Tighe and Johanna Wirtz Woodworth.

We can’t wait to see the results!

On a slightly related front, the late Dorothy Wells Bissell’s work is on view at the D&R Greenway in Our Vanishing Landscape. Her favorite landscapes were created in Hopewell Valley in  watercolors and pastels on paper. Selected from her estate and donated in her memory, all proceeds accrue to D&R Greenway to further its preservation and stewardship mission.

The upstairs Marie L. Matthews Galleries showcase landscapes by 20 regional artists who have created the new exhibition, Present in Nature: Celebrating Plein-Air Art. These 20 artists were granted recent painterly access to a selection of D&R-Greenway-preserved properties.  Each donated one plein-air work to the silent auction for D&R Greenway’s 20th anniversary celebration.  Curator Jack Koeppel then visited the artists, choosing other paintings for this exhibition, available to the public until Oct. 30.  All works in Present In Nature, including those from Dottie Bissell’s estate, are for sale.  Art is available during business hours on business days: One Preservation Place, Princeton (off  Rosedale Road).

Ms. Bissell was fearless in the pursuit of beauty, particularly in the outdoors.  Her private art lessons began at age 6, leading to graduation from Manhattan’s Finch College. Her scholarship to Parsons School of Design resulted in her becoming a member of the faculty. An art therapist, she worked at Jamesburg Reformatory for Boys, local psychiatric hospitals, Artworks of Trenton and the Princeton Y.W.C.A.

Ms. Bissell is remembered by D&R Greenway Land Trust for her passion for the land, especially in New Jersey.  This energy she transformed into substantial and continuous action in the cause of preservation.  The Greenway Artists, which she founded among dynamic and generous area artists, regularly created land-inspired art for exhibition and sale at D&R Greenway events.

Guest Post

From Carolyn Foote Edelmann at the D&R Greenway:

I thought I’d (let you know Dottie is) so alive and well here in the old barn!

What I really love is watching Dottie’s friends come in to find this picture enlarged in our lobby, then her art filling the EVJ Room.  All that art is for sale – and, having been donated, all proceeds from that art comes to D&R Greenway.  Many come here who own her art already.

Stonebridge had so many signed up last week that they (1) had to bring some in cars beyond the bus and (2) are planning to come back with others who’ve heard how special this exhibition (and the barn) was for those delightfully engaged guests.

Valerie Hartshorne came in yesterday with her granddaughter, on an intense Dottie pilgrimage.

That’s what I mean about ‘alive and well’ – Dottie comes back with each one who knew her.

What a character – larger than life!  A mover and a shaker.  Gloriously disorganized – you could say impatient with details – and yet she made things HAPPEN!

I used to take Dottie on drives – short ones on bumbly Hunterdon back roads.  Roads with no names for Dottie – “Turn left at the red barn.”

Long drives down to Spring Lake and the Brigantine (wildlife refuge – our first!  She didn’t notice the birds – not even the –even then very rare– ruddy turnstones.  As an artist, Dottie saw only wide swathes of color and form.  Exciting to me).

I took her to Spring Lake for the weekend so she could take her art, unannounced, to a major gallery – they took it all in a moment, without her even having set up an appointment.

Because of Dottie, I wrote one of audiences’ favorite poems, All the Parlourmaids, about a ghostly figure sensed in windows of Spring Lake’s old E&S, while I was out on a dawn boardwalk hike.  Dottie was not a morning person…     smiles…

She always wore hats – when we’d go out to dinner, therefore, we’d always get the best tables.

She had the flamboyancy of Frank Lloyd Wright, of Aristide Briant…

She wasn’t the least bit puffed-up about her art’s being in exhibitions.  Once she took a bunch of us to Phillips Mill Inn for dinner before the Opening – right about now.  What with the wine and the food and the fellowship, above all, paramount to Dottie, she didn’t want to leave the Inn for the Opening.  I had to go back another day to see it.  (Always a happy ritual).

I notice, with our many Dottie-guests, especially her painting partners (she and the McVickers founded PAA, and she was Ms. Art around here for decades), nobody can speak of Dottie in the past tense…

It’s great to have a chance to reminisce.  Thanks for bearing with me.

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2 Responses to Preserve with Paint

  1. Dear Ilene,

    I am honored to be your guest post-er, in Dottie’s memory and honor.

    The oil painting above, howewever, is Ryan Lilienthal’s – one of our generous and talented “Present In Nature” artists – and quite alive!

    We so appreciate your generous attention. Perhaps the black and white of Dottie in one of her characteristic hats can be added to this post in the future.

    Warm regards always,


  2. Lucy Graves McVicker says:

    A note about Dottie Bissell: Dottie loved to paint outside. She’d call me, and in her southern-like charm, she’d say, “Lucy? Want to go with me to paint outside today?” And I’d think of the hot sun, or wind or
    mosquitoes and other annoyances artists have to tolerate working outside, and I’d say, “Not this time, Dottie.”
    Finally, I couldn’t turn her down again, and said “Yes.”
    She picked me up in the car, and we settled down at a park along the canal, and she’d bring out lunch! – cheese and canned ham of some kind and sweets, and I started thinking – this is not bad! Well, that was the beginning of my love for painting outside. But Dottie would even call me in the winter!!! Once we
    parked in somebody’s driveway, and did paintings of the frozen canal. She worked with oil pastels – using the steering wheel to prop up her painting. I sold
    the painting I did that day. Now I wish I still had it, for it reminded me of Dottie. Lucy(Graves McVicker)

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