Mile Square Colors: Paintings by Elliot Appel

November 6 - December 30, 2016

Elliot Appel has always been interested in capturing the myriad interesting architectural details embedded in the urban landscape. On weekends, and in the margins of his workweek in Midtown Manhattan, he prowls the city’s more colorful neighborhoods, camera in hand, looking for eye-catching subjects. He’s drawn to antiquated doorways and signs, interesting street performers, or an arresting reflection in a window.

“I try to capture the details of everyday life that people may not notice, or take for granted, as they rush from place to place,” Appel says. “I’ve always been a city person. It intensified when all these old structures were being torn down and replaced by new buildings without detail.”

Born and raised in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, he began drawing as a child and kept on sketching through high school and college. Largely self-taught as an artist, he honed his painting technique and subject matter on trips to Europe in his early twenties, visiting museums in Paris, Geneva, Florence, Milan, Venice, Rome and Athens.

During his travels, he would often pause to sketch scenes in the public squares, capturing the unique character of each space from interesting angles. After he sold one of his acrylic paintings based on a photo of a cathedral, he began working in a more photorealistic style that has come to define his art, with urban life as his most frequent subject.

After moving to Bayonne, he began to explore neighborhoods across Hudson County filled with the same late 19th and early 20th century architectural detail that captivated two of his favorite American painters, Edward Hopper and John Sloan. Many of Appel’s scenes recall Hopper’s crisp, light-flooded canvases of modern, realistic street scenes. He interprets these scenes in vibrant colors, with unusual perspectives, as well as an eye for detail, resulting in a singular view of life in the big city. In general, his paintings take about two to three weeks to complete, depending on the amount of detail involved.

“Practice makes perfect,” he adds. “I like to work without a lot of sketching; I block it out on the canvas and launch into filling in the details, working in acrylics because they allow you to paint quickly.” He usually paints at night, with a daylight simulator lamp, with the full sunlight spectrum, and on weekends, when he’s not out searching for new subject matter. He says he’s looking forward to retiring and having more time to paint.

The artist will exhibit about 15 Hoboken-themed paintings, ranging in size from 16” x 20” to 24” x 36”, in a show titled, “Mile Square Colors: Paintings by Elliot Appel.” The show opens at the Hoboken Historical Museum on Sunday, November 6, with a free reception from 1 – 4 pm, and remains on view through Dec. 30. See more of his work at His work is frequently on view at galleries in New York and New Jersey, as well as street fairs and online shows.

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.