This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of visiting Matted LIC, as I heard the proprietors were celebrating the one-year anniversary of their grand opening. I also heard there was going to be an art exhibit featuring the creations of Jonathan Blum.
If you can recall the weather on Sunday, viewing Blum’s amazing works of art was quite the reprieve from the dreadful humidity of the day.
As I worked my way toward the middle of the shop where Blum was exhibiting some of his work on a table and holding court with the visitors, I glanced around the walls and saw many of his prints and oils on display. With regard to his style, one immediately came to mind, whimsical. Blum’s work features a lot of animals, fruits and rabbis, yes rabbis. There was a delightful print of a red couch that was also a cow, entitled, “Red Heifer,” (I would have called it “The Cowwwch”). Along the walls and on the table were monoprints of ostriches, cats, camels and horses. Most of them had fruit painted on their heads.
There was an oil painting of a cow, and on its head were grapes and a bottle of wine with Hebrew writing on the label. It made me smile because it was quite good and also sort of funny. I asked Blum about this concept of animals and people with fruit on their heads. He explained that years ago a couple had commissioned him to paint their portrait but asked him to do it with their favorite fruits placed on their heads. At the time, he thought it odd, but discovered he liked the idea and has been creating this type of art ever since.
He had a couple of his portfolios (one entitled, “Rabbis, Goats and Other Characters”) and albums of reviews and articles about him and his work displayed. In reading some and talking with him about his art reflecting rabbis and items of Judaica, I found out that in 1996 he studied with a rabbi in Israel. He told me that he loves painting rabbis because he gets to express their wisdom and serious side, as well as their humorous side.
You can see that in his work, especially in one colorful print, he calls, “The 12 Tribes,” in which he painted 12 long-faced rabbis side by side.
Blum stated he is first and foremost a portrait painter and his work ranges from fanciful to classically realistic. He explained his monoprint technique of painting on glass, then placing a sheet of paper over the glass, transferring the image to the paper, using a press. He also creates monoprints on collages that were made from cut pieces of what he calls his “monoprint rejects.”
He paints over the collages and the texture comes through as background and sometimes as foreground, giving each creation a special effect.
After a while, he walked around the shop greeting those who came to see his artwork. You could feel his joy as he relayed his techniques and experiences. You could hear a slight giggle and see his boyish smile while his eyes lit up and you could see that enthusiasm about life in his work.
Matted owner Donna Drimmer was a gracious host, and her gallery, as always, was filled with unique baubles that make wonderful gifts — everything from unique jewelry to scarves, wallets, bric-a-brac and, not to be forgotten, beautiful frames for the many works of art.
You can continue to view Blum’s work at Matted LIC at 46-36 Vernon Blvd. Call (718) 786-8660 for details.
Patricia Russo is employed at the office of New York State Office Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. She is a graduate of LaGuardia Community College, LIC and a part-time student at Empire State College.