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Important Clouds: Pastels and Giclées by Tim Daly

March 23 - May 11, 2014

Most of us deliberately tune out the scenery along New Jersey highways as we drive past the railroad and highway bridges crisscrossing the Meadowlands marshes. It’s hard to categorize what we’re seeing—neither planned architectural landscaping nor unfettered nature, it’s a hybrid environment that evolved haphazardly. But these overlooked scenes take on entirely new significance when interpreted by the skilled hands of Hoboken artist Tim Daly.

Many of his landscapes are dominated by luminous skies filled with cumulus clouds, or skies that are empty but for streaky jet contrails floating over utility towers or highway overpasses. Or lonely night skies eerily lit by highway light fixtures. Daly’s pastels and paintings capture these scenes at those moments during the day or night when the light is at its most beautiful and mysterious, so that it almost doesn’t matter what is in the scene. Except that it does—these stretches are as much a part of our physical environment as the intentionally designed ones. Daly’s pastels and paintings help us appreciate them with new eyes.

“I’ve been told several times over the years that I create, in my believable realist landscapes, a psychological space as well,” he says. “It’s ephemeral, darkness visible, at times. I was drawn then as now to lights in the dark and to telling details. I’m a sucker for Ailanthus trees and the spectacles of bright and dark skies over wild industrial and urban landscapes.”

As a Jersey City native, who explored the Meadowlands as a boy, he began sketching that landscape during the eight years he worked at two Postal Service facilities located in the heart of the marshy no-man’s-land. He considers it his graduate school, after studying at New York’s School of Visual Arts from 1971 – 73, when video and photography were all the rage and the Dutch and English realist landscape schools of painting he so admired had fallen out of fashion. He honed his skills there, drawing and painting scenes from sea level and from the top of Snake Hill, the stone outcropping by the NJ Turnpike’s Eastern Spur.

Don’t miss Daly’s latest series of landscapes rendered in pastels with nearly photographic detail, plus giclée prints from earlier paintings, which go on display in a new exhibit in the Upper Gallery of the Hoboken Museum titled “Important Clouds: Pastels and Giclées by Tim Daly,” starting on March 23 with a free reception from 2 – 5 pm. They will remain on view through May 11.

In addition to his lifelong fascination with the Meadowlands, Daly has been working on scenes from around Los Angeles—not the glamorous California seen on TV and movie screens. His California scenes are of surfers at Venice beach, or stretches of highway with brush fires in the distant hills. Some of the recent works were inspired by scenes from Long Island City, where he works as a scenic artist, a proud member of the United Scenic Artists Local 829. He’s painted sets for such shows as HBO’s “The Sopranos,” “Girls,” and “Boardwalk Empire,” among others. See more examples of his work at timdaly.artspan.com.

Daly moved to Hoboken in 1977, when it was a different world: Maxwell’s was a funky bar, the Washington St. bus cost $.25, and rents were low enough for an artist to afford, he says. “I met my lovely wife, Sheilah Scully, and was drawn with her into Hoboken’s progressive political campaigns, including Mayor Tom Vezzetti’s victory, and a four-year long condo conversion battle.” He advises anyone interested in that period to seek out Nora Jacobsen’s documentary film, “Delivered Vacant,” in which he and Sheilah make cameo appearances.

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.

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