New Jersey Stage

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vaune Peck displays 'Natural Tendencies' in her first solo show at Monmouth University

(WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- As counselor and coordinator of arts programming for Monmouth University's Center of Distinction for the Arts, Vaune Peck has involved herself "hands-on" with each and every aspect of the award-winning program — helping to make the school's slate of events into one of the most popular programs in New Jersey, and elevating the seemingly mundane role of "administrator" into a lively art all its own.

Everyone from stage-struck students to seen-it-all superstars knows Vaune as the woman who brings together all of the gloriously disparate elements that comprise a "typical" season at Monmouth — a character who's equal parts diplomat, commanding officer, CEO, go-fer, mom, ringmaster and shepherdess of the flock — to say nothing of making those trains run on time.

However, few outside of the West Long Branch campus are aware that Vaune Peck gets "hands-on" with her life's mission in a more visceral, immediate way — as a visual artist of energy, accomplishment and masterful technique.

The Exhibit runs through Friday, December 17, the 800 Gallery at Monmouth University plays host to Natural Tendencies, an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, photographs and mosaics — many of them created expressly for this event — that reveal Vaune Peck to be the rare "front office" person whose affinity for artists derives from her own very real passion and prowess with the medium of expression.

In other words, this is no vanity project from a frustrated dabbler, but a long-overdue first solo show from a creative individual who's been keeping herself very busy.

As the name suggests, Natural Tendencies takes its cues from the natural world in all its manifestations —the parts that are kissed by pastoral summer breezes, and the parts that come equipped with beaks and teeth and talons.

Traversing both land masses (from the artist's world travels to her literal backyard) and media, the collection features works in softly hued oils and in gleaming carved alabaster — with the awesome diversity of nature shining through in ways that are both dynamically matter-of-fact (the sharply etched detail of a polished stone red tailed hawk) and representational (the floral flow of a painted folk-dancer's skirts).

"Working with stone, each piece is something of a discovery," remarks the sculptor, whose relatively recent explorations in alabaster are well represented in the exhibit. "As you polish the surface down, you never know what's going to be revealed."

As a painter, on the other hand, the artist tends to "find something I like, paint it…conquer it…then move on," sounding rather like the huntress.