The Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation's Exhibition Center in Jim Thorpe is reopening for the 2011 season with an open house reception. The gallery opens on Memorial Day weekend Saturday, May 28, and the reception is held on Sunday, May 29 from 3-5 p.m.
The foundation is housed in the former First Presbyterian Church at 20 West Broadway in the historic district.
The opening show features the spiritual works of eruptive painter Ernest Briggs, the mythological works of mood painter Seymour Boardman, the minimalist sculpture of Harry Leigh, and a series of Christian paintings by Lehighton artist Ed Meneeley.
Meneeley's exhibit is a series of 14 acrylic-on-handmade paper paintings called Stations of the Cross a spiritual path which originated in early pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Each 23-inch by 30-inch abstract relates to a significant point along the final journey of Jesus.
The 2009 series was made in a continuous display of resolve, where Meneeley would not rest until they were completed.
Stations of the Cross was inspired by the end of life and passing of Meneeley's close friend, Douglas Albert. The two had purchased the former Weissport Schoolhouse as a living and gallery space.
"When my friend was ill and dying, I had to go back and forth to Cornell Medical Center," Meneeley said. "Toward the end, an ambulance brought him to the schoolhouse in Weissport. I stayed with him until he died."
Meneeley, now in his 80s, grew up in Wilkes-Barre, and, at the age of 17, joined the Navy to serve in World War II. He was trained as a medic working with paraplegics.
Upon discharge, he returned to Wilkes-Barre and attended the Murray School of Art and began making frequent trips to New York City. He was recalled for the Korean War, where he served as a Navy photographer at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital.
When discharged, Meneeley moved to Manhattan to attend New York's School of Visual Arts on the Korean GI Bill.
He worked as a photographer for the Museum of Modern Art, meeting, befriending, and being inspired by abstract artists like Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Andy Warhol.
Meneeley retired from documentary photography in 1992. As the rights to his photography belong to his agency, he has never exhibited those photographs.
Meneeley helped to transform the former church into an art gallery. He worked with former Mauch Chunk Times News publisher Gertrude Applebaum, and Martin Shapolsky, husband of Anita Shapolsky.
The gallery was initially renamed the Josiah White Exhibition Center. Following the passing of Martin Shapolsky, Anita Shapolsky continued the work as a foundation.
The exhibit includes several large painted wooden sculptures by Harry Leigh. These minimalist designs typically extend to over 11 feet. Leigh, who will be 80 in a few months, started as a painter, and became taken by sculpture in art school. The exhibits are from his 1960s-era works.
Abstract impressionist paintings by Ernest Briggs and Seymour Boardman from the foundation's collection will be exhibited.
Ryan Hnat curated the show.
The show and the reception is free and the public is invited.
For additional information, see: www.asartfoundation.org , or call (570) 325-5815. Foundation hours are 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, and by appointment.