Ta-Da! Artworks by Beth Lucas, Macy’s Parade Studio Artist

May 6 – July 1, 2012

For head scenic artist Beth Lucas, the Macy’s Parade Studio’s move from Hoboken to Moonachie last year was bittersweet. While the new facility offers better lighting and working conditions, she misses being surrounded by historic details scattered throughout the architectural landscape of Hoboken. Her keen eyes pick out such decorative features as rosettes and ornate carvings as she walks along Washington Street and Central Avenue in Jersey City Heights, where she’s lived for 20 years.

Click here to see a virtual gallery of the exhibit.

In her personal artwork, she uses acrylic paints to translate these shapes in bright colors and larger-than-life images on canvas and linoleum that can hang on walls, or even serve as floor-coverings or table tops, once they’re coated in tough polyurethane.

The resulting artworks are whimsical and fun, which is not surprising, considering Lucas’ job for the last 25 years has been decorating the brightly colored, whimsical floats that entertain millions on Thanksgiving day. Come see them on Sunday, May 6, at a free opening reception from 2 – 5 p.m. for Ta-Da! Artworks by Beth Lucas in the Museum’s Upper Gallery. The show will be on view through July 1.

“My dual background in fine art and commercial art has led me to continuously develop a style that is bold with expressive color,” she says. “My imagery is taken from both popular culture and subculture. My work explores the recontextualization of ordinary objects I see, we see, in everyday life.” Flowers also figure prominently in her work, perhaps inspired by her work on Macy’s Annual Flower Show scenery.

After earning her Master’s degree in Fine Art from Rutgers in 1984, she started working at Macy’s Parade Studio, which was based in Hoboken at the former Tootsie Roll factory until last year. She loves working for Macy’s, and met her husband, Charles Walsh, there. After living in Hoboken for five years, she moved to Jersey City Heights where the couple renovated two houses and raised two daughters, Isobelle and Olivia.

The one down side to working on the Parade is never getting to celebrate Thanksgiving on the appointed day, she says. The design crew creates floats that are cleverly designed to fold up into boxes that can fit through the Lincoln Tunnel. This requires the team to start unpacking the floats at 7 p.m. on the Wednesday evening before the Parade in the staging area near the American Museum of Natural History.

They work through the night, finishing just in time for the Parade to get under way, and race down to the finish line at 37th St. to grab a quick bite and start repacking the floats as they arrive. They don’t get home until after 4 p.m., too exhausted to make or even enjoy a meal. Fortunately, the Macy’s Parade Design Studio hosts a special Thanksgiving dinner for the employees’ families on the Friday afterwards.

The exhibit is supported by a block grant from the State/County Partnership program for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.