Trenton’s Very Own Guggenheim

Trenton’s Very Own Guggenheim

Craig Shofed stands and admires the sunlight streaming through ceiling-to-floor windows, as its rays bounce off artwork in the BSB Gallery, projecting shadows onto the floor.

Shofed, curator of the newly opened Trenton gallery on East State Street, has high hopes for the beautiful space and aims to show off the talents of local artists in the community.

Just the ornateness of it,” Shofed said, looking around the gallery, “it has a grand feeling to it.”

The gallery opened in February and its first show was called “The Influence of Women,” which showed off the talents of strong local women artists.

“The show was about the strength of the women and their involvement in the community,” Shofed said.

The gallery hosted an artist talk three weeks into the show, when those with work on display discussed their experience as artists from Trenton. The audience also had the opportunity to ask them questions.

During an interview walking about the gallery, Shofed delved into his process in selecting and positioning art pieces about the space.

“Each piece kind of fits in a way but there’s no theme,” Shofed explained. “Sometimes I try to fit stuff together that shouldn’t naturally fit together.”

Shofed said this tendency may stem from his own work: photography of nature in urban settings.

The curator also explained the inclusion behind specific pieces, like Judith Tyndall’s “Celebration of Spring” fused glass.

“I wanted some shocking color,” Shofed said. “Most of the other pieces are earth tones.” The curator suggested the best time to visit is between noon and 1 PM.

Judith Tyndall’s Celebration of Spring 1 (2018)

“When the sun is up at a certain spot, it pulls you towards and through the sculptures,” Shofed said.

Since the city of Trenton is known for its industrial sector, the curator said that sculptors are often inspired to infuse it into their work as well.

“It’s not so much the materials, but the feel of Trenton,” Shofed said. He pointed to artist Tamara Torres, a Trenton native, in how she pulls the life of the city into her artwork.

For artist and Trenton resident Bruce Lindsay, found pieces make their way into his work. His abstract sculpture (below) was initially inspired by a fragment of a whelk seashell as well as the curves of a feminine body.

With its gilded columns and coffered ceilings, the building itself has its own artistic character. It is believed that the ornate ceiling fixtures, shown below, at the art gallery (originally built in 1909) may have resulted from a contribution by someone at a nearby Baptist Church, built in the 1800s.

Ceiling fixtures, BSB Art Gallery, Trenton

Looking into the future, Shofed strives to continue serving the community and offering Trenton residents a beautiful space to visit.

“Think if the Guggenheim curators went out into the city and picked local artists,” Shofed suggested. “Think of the honor those artists would have.”

Shofed wants local artists to feel a sense of honor too when their artwork is placed in the BSB gallery.

“They’ll have this feeling of, ‘I was in the crux of this amazing explosion of art in Trenton,’” Shofed said.

The BSB gallery is holding an artist talk this Saturday, May 19, from 3 to 5 PM. It will be a fresh set of artists, with the exception of Kate Graves who also appeared in “The Influence of Women.”

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