Smoke and Fire

This painting by Paul Rickert reminds me of driving to Newark Airport and seeing the oil refineries spewing gaseous chemicals into the sky. Although sinfully polluting and akin to the sinuses of our overly wasteful society, there is nevertheless an incredible beauty to those towers of steam billowing into the purple night. They become the clouds, billowing puffy cottony forms.

I’m sure Paul Rickert had nothing like this in mind when he painted this, but he has created a mood that is identifiable to those who go through the world with their eyes open. Rickert lives in the charming, cobblestoned town of Chestnut Hill, just outside of Philadelphia, and summers in Maine, but if he takes the New Jersey Turnpike en route between the two, this is what he’d see.

Rider University will host an exhibit of  Rickert’s paintings titled Industrial Visions Jan. 28-Feb. 28  on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus, 2083 Lawrenceville Road. The exhibit will open with a reception  Jan. 28, 5 to 7 p.m., in the Art Gallery. Rickert will again meet patrons for a Gallery Talk  Feb. 4, 7 p.m.

Industrial Visions will focus on Rickert’s industrial landscapes, according to Harry I Naar, director of the Rider Art Gallery. “The images are filled with smoke, fire, rain and snow, seen from a variety of unusual perspectives and points of view,” he said.

A graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., Rickert is a nationally recognized and award-winning painter who regularly exhibits his work at the renowned Fischbach Gallery in New York. He was recently profiled by Stephen May in the winter 2009 issue of American Artists Watercolor, in a feature entitled “An Artist Inside and Outside.”

Rickert studied with Nelson Shanks, as well as with his father, noted Philadelphia artist and illustrator William Rickert.

The Gallery is located on the second floor of Rider’s Bart Luedeke Center, is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For directions to Rider University, go to

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