Local Colors: Private Moments in Public Spaces By Fern Bass Opens Thursday

Waiter by Fern Bass

Montclair artist Fern Bass is well known as a beloved local art teacher who has helped generations of children find their artistic voice. Bass, who has lived in Montclair for 26 years, shows her own amazing work in “Local Colors: Private Moments in Public Spaces,” opening Thursday at the Gallery at Hillside Square. The show celebrates local places and people you may find familiar.

“As an introverted extrovert who spends a lot of time alone in the studio, I frequent cafes for my daily fix of inspiration, which comes from both caffeine and people,” says Bass. “I love to sit alone in these public places and observe. When I am daydreaming in a cafe, I often find myself tuning in to the people around me, as if I were a kind of cafe spy. What I see is subtle yet deep — nothing I can describe in words, only pictures”.

Raymond’s Conversation by Fern Bass

Bass says her inspiration for her current body of work was watching people eating, working, talking, and thinking in Montclair’s cafés.

“My children used to admonish me for staring, so I began to surreptitiously photograph people in cafes several years ago. I arouse no suspicion as I just look like everyone else taking selfies,” Bass confesses. “I like to catch people engaged in quiet moments of private thought, whether they are a barista, patron or server. Then I go home and try to visually represent these internal experiences in my paintings”.

Ava by Fern Bass

“There is so much to see in people’s movements, interactions and the constantly shifting expressions of a person’s face. There is so much that can be conveyed through color. Artistically, these highly structured compositions reflect a search for spatial pathways and color harmonies that capture the interplay of public and private,” says Bass.

The subjects of Bass’ single figure compositions in the show are local in a more personal way.

“Many are kids from Montclair High School — students, assistants and models for the drawing and painting classes I teach. Some are friends of my own children, kids I’ve known for years. Although these relationships are different than my café subjects, I’m still looking for that same ineffable quality. My focus in the single figure compositions is depicting internal states using unrestrained painterly mark-making with bold coloration. My work is to bring what’s inside, out.”

Fern Bass, founder and head instructor at Bass Arts Studio, is a working artist whose work has been widely shown in solo and group exhibitions in New Jersey and New York City. Before devoting herself to art and teaching full time, she worked as a graphic designer and art director at The New York Times, Conde Nast and Fairchild Publications. She has a BFA from Pratt Institute, and attended the Art Students League and the Brooklyn Museum Art School.

Red Eye Counter by Fern Bass


January 31-April 12th 2019
The Gallery at Hillside Square
8 Hillside Ave., Montclair
Opening Reception Thursday, January 31, 6-9pm

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