Charlie Spademan de Montclair creating an outdoor art gallery on Church Street



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

The installation, upon its unveiling and opening reception on Friday, October 1, will feature eight sculptures – two each by four artists. Spademan said the facility will remain in place for a year and that he plans to rotate more sculptures from other artists in the spring and fall of next year.

The sculpture park is open to the public and it is the first organized installation that Spademan has ever produced.

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

Spademan started working as an artist in 1976 in Manhattan, but after moving to Montclair in the 1990s he focused more on craftsmanship – working with hand forged objects, rails, portals, fences and interior hardware.

Just before the start of the pandemic, Spademan was given the opportunity to work with Bob Silver, co-founder and CEO of the Bravitas Group – which focuses on real estate and other entrepreneurial projects, as well as on the philanthropy. Spademan created works of art for Silver’s BrassWorks Gallery on Grove Street, mostly metalwork sculptures.

But as the pandemic began and the township began to shut down, the work began to decline. Spademan said it made him re-evaluate his life and what it meant to become an artist.

(Artist Wendy Letven / COURTESY OF WENDY LETVEN)

“This led to the sculpture park again, with Bob Silver, who I’ll say is one of my patrons – [a] very good friend, the most generous man I know, ”he said.

Spademan and Silver discussed creating an outdoor gallery in one of the empty lots Silver owns. Silver had one condition: Spademan would have to include his own artwork in the installation.

Spademan said that for his first job as a curator 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 think he’s not. necessary to travel further. And I’m very excited with the group I have for the first screening.

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

“I want people to experience the sculptures and start a conversation with each other,” said Spademan.

(Sculpture by Peter Allen on display at the NJ Artist Annual 2021 at the Newark Museum. / COURTESY OF CHARLIE SPADEMAN)

The installation includes the work of Wendy letven, a multidisciplinary artist working in sculpture, installation and painting in the New York area. She created the sculpture “I Notice The Earth Echoes”, currently on display at One Liberty Plaza in New York until November 17th. Brookdale Properties, on its website, says the work “celebrates the reverberations and cycles of change of nature across our planet.”

Peter Allen, who has worked in his Harding Township studio since the 1990s and has a 40-year career, developed a new method of depicting figures in the landscape using wood, clay, bronze, l ‘steel and stone, as well as oil paintings on canvas. According to his website, last year, Allen’s “Figures on the Hill” was on display at the Passaic Arts Center in Hawthorne. Allen also presented his art at Studio Montclair.

Two sculptures by the Newark artist Jerry Glove, 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-piece metal sculpture outside Newark Penn Station” and the 13-piece sculpture series at Nat Turner Park.

(Newark Artist Jerry Gant / COURTESY OF JERRY J GANT ESTATE)

“My criteria was to bring in a diverse group of artists. I didn’t want the works to necessarily be linked to each other, ”said Spademan. “It’s not a show with a theme. These 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 performers may be in attendance, Spademan said.

“I really encourage people to come and enjoy the evening. It is a unique space in Montclair. I can’t think of anything like it, ”Spademan said. “Obviously there is the sculpture in Crane Park and a sculpture or two in other parts of town, but they don’t change. I would like it to be, in a sense, an open-air gallery.

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