Since Monsoon opened its doors in May of 2003,
it has amassed quite a collection of articles, photos, editorials,
interviews and appearances.
The Morning Call
Lehigh Valley Magazine
The New York Times
2006 Slideshow 2
(click on the thumbnails to read the articles)
Read the full articles by scrolling below!
Monsoon Gallery Articles and Editorials 2006
The Monsoon Gallery Archives for 2006
We've gone through all the media surrounding the gallery and
created an archival collection of articles and editorials about the gallery,
its artists, and its employees.
If there's something in particular that you were looking for
and you don't see it here, then please don't hesitate to give
us a call or send us an email and let us know.
Paper: Brown & White - Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: Jan. 9, 2006
Artist: Frank Wyso (Wysochansky)
“Brilliant and strange artists mined inspiration in coal region”
Frank “Wyso” Wysochansky was a man driven to tell the story
of Pennsylvania coal miners. Wyso’s intimate knowledge of miners and
their families influenced his art throughout his life. His paintings and
sculptures document the tools and working conditions of the anthracite coal
mines of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Working furiously, Wyso churned out an estimated 5,000 pieces of art created
through pen, ink, watercolor, oil, crayon and sculptural forms. He spread
melted crayons across canvases and carved out images, creating figural sculptures
from Bondo, an inexpensive automotive body repair product that he worked
around armatures such as chicken bones, light bulbs, bags of sand, and wire
He had little formal training, but a passion for depicting the modest lives
and working conditions of fellow miners, says Steve Lichak, senior producer
in Lehigh’s Library and Technology Services new Digital Media Studio,
who is also an artist and is credited with bringing Wyso’s work to
“The intensity, the pure, unadulterated intensiy is what strikes me,”
Lichak says. “When you look at it, you see every stroke, laid out
almost like a dance on paper. You can envision how he had to move his body
to create that stroke.”
Beyond the technique was the subject matter: the hardscrabble lives of miners
who worked in the cold mines through the winter months, then scratched out
a modest existence the rest of the year, when the demand for coal dropped.
“He portrayed a real honesty,” Lichak says. “These were
gritty, dirty jobs, and the families were poor. They wore old, patched-together
clothing, sat in dark barrooms, and carried lunchpails. He portrayed the
way they really lived.”
Wyso also poured his convictions in a series of more than 2,000 cartoon
sketches, which appeared in humor magazines and most predominantly, in the
United Mine Workers Journal. Wyso was only paid a few dollars for the cartoons
that offered political and social commentary on the lives of the mine workers
and the conditions under which they were forced to toil. “That’s
a whole project unto itself,” Lichak says. “The cartoons were
initially created out of economic necessity as a way of helping to support
his meager lifestyle, but they’re still a valid form of folk art and
provide a glimpse into the passion that drove his more evolved art.”
After Wyso died in 1994 at the age of 79, the artist’s family asked
Lichak to help catalogue his work. Lichak had become acquainted with Wyso
through a documentary he made on the outsider artist’s work shortly
before his death, but he initially resisted the monumental task of chronicling
a lifetime of the artist’s work. Several years later, he relented
and began to wade through stacks of paintings, drawings, and pieces of sculpture
left in Wyso’s Blakeslee homestead.
“He would finish a piece of art, frame it, and put it against the
wall,” Lichak says. “These pieces were 10 and 20 paintings deep
all around the house. Then, when he couldn’t fit one more thing along
the walls, he started piling them in the basement and attic and making pathways
to walk through. It was literally a maze.”
Lichak set up a high-tech studio in the homestead, and spent the next two
and a half years beginning to digitally record and catalogue each piece,
working his way through more than 3,000 works. “And there is no end
in sight,” he says. “The family still maintains hundreds and
hundreds of art works around the country, there are thousands of paintings
and sculptures now stored in floor to ceiling racks I built.
To raise funds to preserve the work and expose Wyso’s art to a broader
artists, Lichak helped organize – with the assistance of Lehigh art
professor, artist and critic Berrisford Boothe – an earlier show at
South Side’s Monsoon Gallery. Gallery director Ranjeet still maintains
a large survey of Wyso’s work, which helps fund the archival preservation
Boothe says of Wyso: “In his insatiable desire to make art everyday,
all the time, and without regard for formal concerns beyond the internal
impulse, he clearly fits the bill of a ‘visionary.’ His best
work follows the wind in his mind…very brilliant and strange.
Lichak also worked with Lehigh University Art Galleries curator Ricardo
Viera, Religion Studies professor Norman Girardot, and outsider artist expert
George Viener of the Reading Goggle Works, Outsider Folk Art Gallery, to
bring Wyso’s work to Lehigh for a three-month exhibit. “Steve
was so passionate about this artist,” says Girardot, who also serves
as faculty co-director of Lehigh’s new ArtsLehigh program. “He
felt that this was a human being who deserved his due and he is the one
who should be credited with bringing Wyso’s art to people.”
“It’s important work,” says Lichak. “These were
small men doing big jobs, by hand, under the worst of conditions. And Wyso
captured it all – the struggle, the history, the lifestyle. It’s
important that it’s seen.” While he continues to catalogue Wyso’s
work and locate an appropriate place for safe storage, he is also hoping
to work more with a new discovery: Wyso’s 56-year-old autistic nephew,
whom Lichak describes as “an unknown genius.”
“Like his uncle, he’s an obsessive drawer and the tiny apartment
he shares with his mother is filled with his drawings,” Lichak says.
“He’s an incredible artist.”
Paper: The Morning Call - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: Jan. 22, 2006
Artist: Frank Wyso (Wysochansky)
“Mining the tough and the tender”
Frank "Wyso" Wysochansky is working in his basement studio, a
coal-pit-dark den brightened by his wall painting of a Mexican landscape
with donkeys. Using a pocket knife, he draws a blocky man and woman on a
piece of paper coated with melted crayons gathered from kids near his home
in Blakely, Lackawanna County. His subject is one of coal mining's most
intimate scenes: a wife scrubbing her husband's shirt while he's wearing
it, aching knees on floor, sore hands in a tub of hot water.
The picture is tough and tender, radiantly lit and seemingly wallpapered
by coal dust. Wyso depicts a practical act in a large mining family unable
to afford a shower or a week's worth of work clothes. At the same time he
honors his father, who died in a mining accident, and his mother, who raised
12 children pretty much by herself. Bonded by daily ritual, lost in their
own world, Anelia and Joseph Wysochansky could be pilgrims - or Mary and
This rough reverential portrait hangs in a Lehigh University exhibition
of mining images by Wyso (1915-1994), a self-taught artist obsessed by a
particular, peculiar visions. A grimy dignity clings to these muscular,
mystical views of drilling and shoveling, drinking and smoking. Each picture
taps a deep vein; each picture appears carved from coal.
The show is a collaboration between the Frank Wyso Charitable Foundation
and the Lehigh University Art Galleries, which regularly exhibits works
by primitive, ecstatic creators. It's coordinated by Steven Lichak, a trustee/curator
for the Wyso trust, a senior producer in Lehigh's Digital Media Studio and
the director of a Wyso documentary. Wyso's humane views of an inhumane industry
remind Lichak of his Lackawanna County childhood, when he heard stories
about his mining grandfathers who died from black-lung disease.
Lichak, 46, is leading the charge to make Wyso an outsider artist better
known outside northeastern Pennsylvania. His partners are four of Wyso's
brothers, all of whom are priests, each of whom steered the career of a
bachelor brother more interested in making pictures than promoting them.
"Frank ate, drank and slept art his whole life," says Father Walter
Wysochansky from his parish church in Ambridge, Beaver County. "He
was just infatuated with the life of the coal miner. He never married, although,
yeah, he was handsome and funny enough to have plenty of girls going wild
over him. He married art, and that was it."
Father Walter believes his brother was born to create. As a youngster Frank
drew on all sorts of surfaces, including sheepskin jackets. He was so talented
with a pen and pencil, he worked for a high-school yearbook when he was
in elementary school. Wyso's brothers aren't sure why he was driven to draw.
Art may have been an outlet for a loner in a big clan. Then again, he may
have been inspired by mining's dangerous drama, a reality reinforced by
the recent disaster that killed 12 miners in Sago, W. Va. Wyso saw his father's
legs covered in leeches, sucking bad blood from sores. He watched his mother
stiffen at the sound of emergency whistles: short signals for severe injuries,
one eerily long note for fatal cave-ins. He saw wives faint when their husband's
bagged corpse was dropped on the front porch as callously as a sack of potatoes.
This cruel life was softened by caring deeds. Wives cooked mushrooms picked
by their miner husbands on the way home from work. At the end of shifts
children flocked to their fathers for hugs and left-over sandwiches. In
the summer, when the mines shut down, families had more time to sing, dance
and tell stories. They drank wine they made and ate soup with vegetables
they grew, cooked with burning coal they cracked.
Like many kids of miners, Wyso left school early, at age 13. During the
Depression he made money by selling coal he picked illegally. As Lichak
points out, dog-hold mining was doubly dangerous. There were no supervisors
around to help injured pickers. Caught by mining bosses, they often received
brutal, biblical punishment. Cracking coal without permission could mean
In 1935 Wyso joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, one of the New Deal's
many work-relief programs. On Jan. 13, 1936, he was in a CCC camp in California
when his father was killed by a falling rock in a Wilson Colliery mine.
Wyso couldn't make it home in time to attend the funeral. He never forgot
the loss, or the guilt. For decades he relieved his pain by drawing proud
miners and adoring sons.
Anelia Wysochansky was pregnant with Walter, her youngest child, when her
husband died. Unable to care for such a large family, she sent three of
her kids that year to a Ukranian orphanage in Philadelphia. Stanley and
Mary left St. Basil's within two years; John stayed for six. He became a
priest along with his brothers Constantine, Demetrius and Walter.
Frank continued to follow a secular path. From 1943 to 1946 he served in
the Marines. After leaving the military, he decided to become a serious
artist. Funded by the G.I. Bill, he studied watercoloring and cartooning
at a school in Scranton. He set up a studio in the basement of his mother's
house, where he lived until his death. He enlivened the dingy space by painting
the walls as a festive Mexican vista.
Wyso lived on a Marine pension and his mother's generosity. For a decade
he earned money by selling cartoons to journals for miners and dentists.
To satisfy his soul, he painted Ukrainian and Amish folk scenes, clowns,
and monks. Thinking his career would be more profitable with a specialty,
his brothers convinced him to concentrate on mining pictures. "We pushed
him into a unity of theme," says Father Walter. "We told him to
paint what he knew best: his backyard."
Guided by his siblings, Wyso transformed a small world into a big world.
He depicted miners drilling in a cave and smoking a pipe in a cave-like
tavern. He portrayed them huddled in coal cars like ship slaves and lunching
with the rats that warned them about dangerous gases. He gave them chiseled
faces, flickering colors and shifty, searchlight eyes. He made them folksy
characters, primeval creatures.
Wyso could be political. He hung miners on crucifixes to ennoble their sacrifices
and protest their terrible conditions. He could also be spiritual. In one
of his sculptures, a miner hugs a kerchiefed woman and a model of a Ukrainian
church. The tabletop bust is more than a tribute to his parents; it blesses
that coal-country trinity of mother, mother church and mother earth.
Never a salaried miner, Wyso lived a minerly life. He worked in his coal
pit of a studio 12 hours a day, six days a week, stopping only on Sundays.
Never a hermit, he walked every day to a local grocery store. He cut quite
a figure in his cowboy boots, 10-gallon hat and bolo-tie beard. He resembled
a well-groomed Wyatt Earp. Wyso never drove a car and never owned one. His
impatience prompted him to use pens and inks, which dried faster than oils.
He could be abrasive, especially when he thought viewers misread his pictures.
"He was a cantankerous son of a gun," says Father Walter. "He
could never tolerate a phony. What you saw of Frank was what you got. He
was as transparent as can be. He was a noble person."
The Wysochansky brothers knew that Frank had neither the time nor the personality
to make his career flourish. So they became his art guardians. They paid
for his materials; Father John estimates he's spent $15,000 on framing alone.
They sold his works in their parishes. They served as his agent-publicists,
capitalizing on their door-opening credentials. Even the most jaded curator,
after al, will reserve time for a priest. Supervised by his siblings, Wyso
received more than 50 solo shows. Father Walter, for example, secured an
exhibit for his brother at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown,
Ohio, where Walter led a parish church at the time. A Wyso watercolor hung
in a national exhibit curated by John Canaday, then an influential art critic
for the New York Times. A French publication listed Wyso as a contemporary
Oh his own, Wyso conquered a fear of flying. His brothers helped him conquer
a fear of rejection spurred by the cutthroat business of cartooning. "I
remember him throwing that doggone rejection envelope on the couch,"
says Father John from his parish church in St. Clair, Schuylkill County,
"and saying some choice words."
In the early '90s, Wyso found an ally outside the family. Steven Lichak
was a Lehigh University graphic designer in his early 30s, a fellow sculptor
with a similar heritage. Lichak grew up in Dunmore, Lackawanna County, the
grandson of miners killed by black-lung disease before he was born. Wyso's
images triggered some of his favorite childhood memories: crawling around
abandoned breakers; listening to mining tales in basement kitchens heated
by coal stoves.
Lichak began making a half-hour documentary on Wyso for WVIA, the public
television station in Pittston, Lackawanna County. He videotaped Wyso's
uncommon creations with common materials. He made armatures of wire hangers
and chicken bones, then covered the skeletons in a fast-drying, flexible
compound used to repair cars. "If Frank had a bag of plaster, it was
going to be a sculpture," says Lichak. "If he had a bag of sand,
it was going to become an armature. He was so prolific, he made every professional
artist look like a piker."
Wyso guided Lichak through a house bursting with art. He stacked paintings
against walls, 15 to 20 deep. After running out of space, he made mazes
in the middle of the living room. "What do I need furniture for?"
he said, sounding like a classic bachelor and obsessive artist who detested
Wyso filled emotional gaps by worshipping his mother. After Anelia Wysochansky
died in 1983, he kept her bedroom the way she left it, with one notable
exception. Over the bed he placed a four-foot crucifix he made with rosary
beads as big as baseballs.
Lichak finished the Wyso documentary in 1994. Two weeks later, his subject
died from cardiac failure. His memorial service featured a prayer card with
his portrait of Christ in mourning. Lichak shelved the Wyso project after
WVIA declined to broadcast the video (It remains unaired). The Wysochansky
brothers refused to mothball their mission. Over the next decade, Father
Walter periodically asked Lichak to graduate from Wyso filmmaker to chief
champion. Each time Lichak politely rejected the invitation. He was too
busy with his work and his family, he explained. He was an artist, not an
art promoter. He wasn't especially religious.
Lichak: "You know, Father, I'm not the holiest man in the world."
Father Walter: "That's OK, Steven. We'll pray for you."
Two years go, Lichak accepted Father Walter's challenge. He figured his
daughter, Brooke, now 8, was old enough not to require constant attention
from himself and his wife, Nancy. Aided by high-speed computers and digital
cameras, he could easily record Wyso's zigzags. Most important, he was spirtually
ready. Helping the Wysochansky brothers, he realized, was his calling.
Lichak's calling has become a second career. He's catalogued nearly 3,000
works of Wyso's estimated 5,000 works. He's built floor-to-ceiling storage
shelves, updated a Web site and organized shows at Lehigh and Monsoon, the
Bethlehem gallery that sells Wyso pictures and sculptures. Backed by the
Lackawanna Historical Society, he's assisting a $40,000 campaign to cast
an eight-foot-high bronze statue of a miner based on Wyso's designs. It
will be dedicated to Wyso's father, whose death in the Wilson Colliery mine
ended his dream of being a church singer.
The sculpture is destined for a levee in Olyphant, across the Lackawanna
River from Blakely. The site is symbolic, says Gene Turko, a Wysochansky
family friend who chairs the Olyphant Coal Miners Memorial Association.
It's about halfway between Wyso's home and the church his mother attended
every day, sprinkling ashes from a pouch to make the ice less slippery.
Lichak has promoted Wyso in interviews with journalists covering the Sago
mine tragedy. He's promoted Wyso while promoting primitive, wildly inventive
works by Michael Wysochansky, Wyso's autistic nephew. He's encouraged Michel,
a 56-year-old janitor, to ease his money worries by making three-foot-wide
Like the brothers Wysochansky, Lichak is shepherding dead and living visionaries.
"It's a way of giving back to the world that I wouldn't normally have,"
he says. "Frankly, I don't have a choice. It's the power of prayer,
and the love of pure art."
Paper: The Bethlehem Press - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: March 1 & 2, 2006
Artist: Ranjeet Pawar, Rori Franges
“Monsoon brings Rain”
When Monsoon blew into Bethlehem, the Lehigh Valley art scene didn't know
what hit it. Month after month, internationally-renowned work graces the
walls of the fine arts gallery. With the artist's themselves often in attendance,
mingling and talking, the openings are a must on art devotees' "to
see" list for Southside's monthly First Friday celebrations. Recently
Monsoon brought more: Rain, a gallery devoted to regional artists.
"These artists who are in here now are passionate about their work
and are showing it to the world," said Ranjeet Pawar, photographer
turned gallery owner with an entrepreneurial background who founded Monsoon
three years ago. Of Rain, he observed, "It's an aspect of Monsoon.
Water, in itself, is a flow. Fluidity in art is a very important thing."
Rain, which opened in November adjacent to Monsoon in the former Woolworth's
building at Third and New streets, includes the work of 14 artists, some
from the Poconos and New Jersey. Each artist displays in a portion of the
gallery, which can accommodate the work of up to 20 artists.
"What I really want to get across to the artists in the Lehigh Valley
is that they are in control of their futures. They are investing in the
space," said Pawar, a Moravian Academy, class of '92, graduate who
studied entrepreneurship at Babson College, Wellesley, Mass. Pawar founded
Monsoon after returning to the Valley from Colorado, where he was a consultant
for a startup company. For a time, he did market research for his father's
firm, PennSummit Tubular, Hazleton, which manufactures high-mast steel poles
for electrical transmission line structures, stadium lighting, cell phone
towers and windmills.
"Life kind of brings you back home," said Pawar, 31, who lives
in Pleasant Valley in Upper Bucks County. "I travel extensively. I've
bicycled through Europe. Anytime I'm near a volcano that I can hike up,
I'm there. I've backpacked Australia. Driven through India," said Pawar,
numbering among his relatives the chief guard for a king, a former prime
minister of India and cabinet-level government officials there.
Because Pawar was having his photographs framed at a Bethlehem area frame
shop, he began considering a business of his own. "It brought me into
the reality that maybe I should look into the world of art because it is
something that I'm very passionate about." He chose the word Monsoon,
a Hindi word, because of its symbolism. "In India, the monsoon season,
floods or no floods, is a happy time. When the water comes, the crops come,
there's food on the table. It's an entirely different perspective. When
you think about it, what is Monsoon, really? It is the birthplace of vibrant
energy and color. People are, in turn, supposed to feed off of everything
that's presented her [in the gallery]."
Monsoon is the type of sophisticated and elegant gallery you'd find in Beverly
Hills, Palm Beach, Las Vegas, or New York City. Pawar explained the mission
of Monsoon: "The world's cultures are defined by their art, what they
create and why they create. So, this [the gallery] is bringing the world
In its second year, Monsoon expanded to what had been Planet Harp. Rain
occupies the former showroom of Crystal Signatures, still located in the
"Rain is harnessing the Monsoon clients," Pawar emphasized. Artists
work with Rori Franges, Monsoon gallery manager. Said Pawar, "There's
a lot of experience that we have gathered here. From a professional standpoint,
in order to deal with art, we're very adept at that. I've been trying to
explain to every artist that I meet that they are not just artists, but
entrepreneurs. When an artist is making a painting, they have two choices.
They can make another one and another one and fill up their home. Or they
can make a painting and try to present it and let somebody else bring it
into their home. With Rain, it makes them that much more involved in the
space. They understand how costly it is to hang a painting on the wall."
Paper: Bucks County Herald - Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Date: April 6, 2006
Artist: Chris Carter
“Fluidity - The Synergy of Lines”
Monsoon Gallery will present "Chris Carter: Fluidity - The Synergy
of Lines" April 7 to May 3.
Carter, a New Jersey artist, beguiled Monsoon goers at her first show of
watercolors, oils, and gouaches spanning subjects from the abstract to the
figurative. Her flowing watercolors have been compared to the likes of Gustav
Klimt, and the fantastical imagery of her gouaches show that she paints
while others dream.
Paper: The Morning Call - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: May 19, 2006
Artist: Carole Pickle
Monsoon is exhibiting Carole Pickle's crackling-good acrylic abstracts.
The Emmaus resident has a knack for strong graphic gestures, stormy calligraphy
and the kind of noble detritus found in Aaron Siskind's photographs. Pickle's
paintings are intriguingly allusive and elusive. "Earth Series"
features a kind of bloody illuminated cave streaked with a ghostly flash
of neon blue. The artist blends disparate elements smoothly. Several works
benefit from prismatic/earthy colors and phosphorescent/psychedelic lighting.
Her lightning-bolt effects generate a lot of electricity and action. In
"Intuitive Marks No. 3," squeezed purple zigzags whip a coal black
mass like a jockey racing a horse.
Paper: The Morning Call - Allentown, Pennsylvania
Date: July 20, 2006
Artist: Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths (PSG), Lexi Erickson, Susan Shultz
“Each piece of jewelry a bling of beauty”
There’s a lot of glitter at Bethlehem’s Monsoon Gallery, but
not all of it is gold. The first-ever showing of pieces by the Pennsylvania
Society of Goldsmiths at a fine art gallery space alos contains metals as
diverse as sterling silver, bronze, and copper as well as semiprecious stones
arrayed in a variety of colors, shapes and textures.
“We are thrilled
to be represented by one of the finest galleries in the area,” says
the group’s newly elected president, Lexi Erickson, adding that the
pieces by 12 PSG members included in “The Fine Art of Fine Jewelry”
aren’t your average store-bought bling-bling, but “studio jewelry,”
one-of-a-kind or limited edition pieces.
“Studio jewelry is far
different from jewelry found in a chain store,” says Erickson, who
has been teaching jewelry making at the Baum School of Art in Allentown
for the last year. “Each artisan has his or her own distinct style
and technique, making each piece a tiny piece of precision and beauty. These
are handmade fine art jewelry designs.”
Represented at the Monsoon show is the work of Erickson and fellow artists
Ann Lalik, Wendy Waldman, Karen Normann-DeLarco, Christopher Darway, Angela
Duffin, Joan Nelson, Margery Cooper, Andrea Abrams-Herbert, Kirk Kozero,
Judith Renstrom, and Susan Schulz.
The word “goldsmith,” Erickson points out, is an archaic term
for jeweler and shouldn’t be confused with “silversmith,”
a person who makes utensils, such as dinnerware, plates and platters. (Paul
Revere, for example, was a silversmith.)
Since organizing in 1979, the nonprofit PSG had been offering workshops
for metalsmithing and metal techniques. At the moment the workshops are
at Bucks County Community College in Newtown and Moore College in Philadelphia.
While PSG originated in the Philadelphia region – where about 80 percent
of its members live –many are beginning to call the Lehigh Valley
home, with Erickson and several PSG board members now living in the area.
“PSG is one of the oldest guilds in the country,” Erickson says.
“Being a member of a guild implies you have an education and knowledge
of the art of jewelry. We use the same skills as any fine artist.”
While all of the jewelry is of contemporary design, the designers use processes
that have been around for centuries, says Erickson.
hasn’t really changed in 3,800 years,” she explains. “For
example, we use the same controlled melting process used for thousands of
years to gives pieces different surface textures.” Erickson came to
jewelry in a roundabout way. A trained archeologist and anthropologist whose
specialty is the Bronze Age, she became fascinated by the subject of fashioned
metals while researching ancient jewelry found on archaeological digs. “I
began to wonder, ‘How did they do that?’ So I took a class in
jewelry making to learn metallurgical process and I fell head over heels
in love with it. Jewelry is very much a cultural thing,” she adds.
“It’s all about personal adornment.”
Paper: The Morning Call - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: July 21, 2006
Artist: Ranjeet Pawar
“A neighborhood of visionary ventures”
When owner/director Ranjeet Pawar launched Monsoon gallery in 2003, he unleashed
a tsunami of art world excitement that rippled far beyond the Lehigh Valley.
Shortly thereafter, the professional gallery expanded into a neighboring
location, and Pawar now fills more than 3,400 square feet of space witha
diverse and everchanging selection of fine arts from around the world.
In late 2005, Pawar made another splash with Rain Gallery, located in a
storefront adjacent in Monsoon. The venture lets artists invest in their
futures by renting space. "Local artists need to go through the process
of learning about markets, trends, and costs." Pawar says. "Rain
artists have an opportunity to make decisions and find out what works, from
framing to pricing. Although they don't always want acknowledge it, artists
need to be entrepreneurs."
Magazine: Lehigh Valley Magazine - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: July & August, 2006
Artist: Ranjeet Pawar, Rori Franges
“Best of the Valley”
Best Independent Art Gallery to Buy
Professionalism and an exquisite selection of distinct works of art make
Monsoon Gallery an excellent place for buyers. Customers receive exceptional
service and expert suggestions about which colors and tones would harmonize
with their temperament, lifestyle, and also suit the reason for choosing
a particular piece - whether for its general decorative function, or for
its power to touch them on a deeper emotional level.
Best Independent Art Gallery to View
A visit to Monsoon Gallery is for eyes and soul like a torrential rain for
the tropical desert. The selection of eclectic and powerful works of art
from all over the world will leave any visitor emotionally invigorated.
Monsoon has an excellent working relationship with well-recognized artists,
but it also gives an opportunity to emerging painters and photographers
to display their work in the adjacent gallery, Rain.
Paper: The Morning Call - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: August 13, 2006
Artist: Ranjeet Pawar
“Wave of ingenuity”
Ranjeet Pawar’s career path was supposed to lead into business, not
art. He never studied art, attending insteading the prestigious Babson College
business school in Massachusetts, where he earned a degree in entrepeneurship.
His first job was steering a start-up company that focused on the distribution
of natural foods and supplements.
But Pawar loved to take photographs. An avid traveler, Pawar built a portfolio
of nature photography. So when the start-up failed, he fell back on his
hobby of photography. Now as the owner of Monsoon and Rain, two eclectic
art galleries in the growing area of south Bethlehem – one showing
artists on the international scene and the other presenting local artists
– Pawar displays a distinctly business-like view of the art world.
“What artists don’t realize is they are entrepreneurs producing
something they want someone else to be drawn to,” Pawar says. “Many
artists lose sight of that.”
Pawar has become one of the catalysts for activity in Bethlehem. He often
adds his own flair to monthly First Friday events by having special performances
such as Indian or tango dancers in the gallery. He is a member of the Fine
Arts Commission, a board member of the Downtown Business Association and
works on programming with the Banana Factory, the South Bethlehem arts incubator,
and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. He helped get the Southside Film Festival
started and has taken part in fundraisers for nonprofits such as the Muscular
At Monsoon, Pawar features a different artist each month in a gallery show.
During August, he is the featured artist, with a show of his photography
combined with his poetry and prose. “I wanted to show what goes on
in a photographer’s mind when he’s taking a picture,”
Pawar says. “There’s always a story behind images and I placed
that poem or phrase within the image. I don’t think photographers
usually do that kind of opening up. People will know more intimate details
of my mind.”
September’s show will be a retrospective of the work of Bethlehem
native Paul Harryn, an abstract artist with an international reputation.
Pawar says the greatest challenge is convincing the Lehigh Valley to see
what it has in its own backyard. “People need to embrace the art,
cultures, and Bethlehem,” he says. “Too many locals go elsewhere
for art. The community needs to learn that this is an amazing place.”
Pawar, 32, whose parents were born in India and whose great-grandfather,
Chowdhary Charan Singh, was the Indian Prime Minister in 1979, grew up in
Hazelton and moved to Bethlehem when he was 12. After graduating from Moravian
Academy, he went to Babson. He took bicycle tours and backpacking trips
to exotic locales, where he made many connections because of his friendly,
outgoing personality. He “took photos everywhere I went,” he
After Pawar’s company, Nutri Buy failed, Pawar began showing in galleries
from New York to Las Vegas. “I went to a lot of galleries and met
the art directors,” says Pawar. “After awhile I realized I could
Pawar lives in Springfield Township, Bucks County, but he says he thought
Bethlehem was a good place to open a gallery. “South Bethlehem seemed
like it was the future of Bethlehem,” he says. “There is a lot
of energy and it reminded me of Manayunk. I’ve traveled the world
and this is a very beautiful town.” When the space at 11 E. 3rd St.
was vacated by Udderly Delicious, a cow-inspired ice cream shop, in 2003,
Pawar jumped on it. He felt the airy, loft-like space with the tin ceiling
was perfect for a gallery. Since the ceiling has been painted purple by
the former owners, Pawar spent six days hand painting the ceiling copper.
Pawar decided to name the gallery Monsoon because it’s “representative
of my culture but familiar. The Monsoon season is a good time. Crops grow.
Flowers bloom. The whole country is vibrant with color.”
More than 1,000 people visited the gallery during the first First Friday
event after it opened. Pawar says many thought his gallery was a museum
because of the high ceilings and the way work was grouped by artist. “Other
galleries aren’t presented in this fashion,” Pawar says. “We
took something you’d find in a big city and put it in Bethlehem.”
But Pawar says he could see people enjoyed coming into Monsoon. “People
love to experience it,” he says. “you can see them make the
Pawar says his philosophy of art is “everything should generate some
level of emotional response. You’re not just buying what you see,
you’re buying a portion of the artist.” Pawar says after he
sold his first painting after three days and sales have been “slow
but steady from that point forward.”
The gallery features national and international artists such as photorealist
Peter Krobath, figurative painter Fidel Garcia, husband and wife team Alexander/Wissotzky
and Middle Eastern acrylic artist Khalil Allaik. Indian artists are represented
by former Lehigh Valley resident Salma Arastu and Babu Lal Marotia. “I
like to travel and find artists,” Pawar says. “I invest a lot
of energy in finding amazing work.”
In 2004, Pawar expanded into the Planet Harp store next to Monson and opened
the wall between the two spaces to create a larger, 2,300-square-foot gallery.
“It’s not easy to find galleries this large, but in my mind
it’s too small,” Pawar says. But as Monsoon continued to flourish,
Pawar realized there were many talented local artists who didn’t have
a place to show their work. “Monsoon is very well established
and the artists understand the branding of their art,” Pawar says.
“What I thought to do with Rain was to have a place where local artists
could show their art and be in control.”
In November, Pawar opened a 1,300-square-foot gallery at 1. E. Third St.
and called it Rain to continue with the water theme. Similar to an artist’s
co-op, but somewhat different, Pawar rents wall space to the artists and
helps them to learn about pricing and displaying their work. “I’m
running it like a business,” Pawar says. “I teach them about
marketing and branding. To get someone else to invest in them they have
to invest in themselves.” Pawar also hired Moravian College graduate
Rori Franges to help manage both galleries, but primarily rain. “We
both wear a number of hats,” Pawar says. “She’s an intricate
part of the fabric that makes up Monsoon. I can’t run a gallery without
Unlike Monsoon, where prices can range in the thousands of dollars, most
work at Rain is under $1,000. Media is diverse, from acrylic to ceramic
to mixed-media. Unlike Monsoon, artists can exhibit as long as they rent
the space, although Pawar encourages the artists to change their display
monthly. He also highlights a different artist each month in the front window
and with advertising. “The idea is to provide opportunities,”
Pawar says. “The art is much more eclectic. Rain is what you make
of it. When artists invest time and energy, it returns to them.”
Mixed-media artist Jean Yeoman of Lower Nazareth Township says she is pleased
with her display and has had a lot of interest in her work. “The concept
is really impressive,” she says. “It’s really important
that artists have a chance to start showing work.”
Pawar also sells and rents art to corporations and offers framing services.
He is also starting the Monsoon Art Group, in which he will sell the work
of artists he represents to galleries around the country, starting with
abstract painter Brian Richmond and figurative artist Chris Carter. And
recently, he solidified his presence in Bethlehem by purchasing the Design
Center, the 20,000 square foot building that houses his two galleries. Pawar
also has purchased the building at 201 E. Third Street that last housed
Paper: The Bethlehem Press - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: August 16, 2006
Artist: Ranjeet Pawar
“Thought that counts”
The exhibition, “Thoughs from Within,” by photographer Ranjeet
Pawar continues through Aug. 30 at Monsoon Gallery. One of the works, “Sunanda,”
taken in Spring 2003 in Pleasant Valley, was inspired by a cousin of Pawar
who suffers from a fatal disease known as Thalassemia Major. It requires
her to receive blood transfusions on a bimonthly basis.
Said Pawar, “While she knows her life will be short, her ability to
love and smile is an ability most us don’t learn until we reach the
mature years of our life. Once I took this picture, I immediately thought
of her.” Profits from the sale of this piece will go toward enriching
Sunanda’s life. “My goal is to take her to one of her favorite
places, Disney World,” said Pawar.
Paper: The Bethlehem Press - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: August 30, 2006
Artist: Paul Harryn
“Paul Harryn retrospective, with view to the future, at Monsoon”
Paul Harryn: Retrospective: 1976-2006” will be on exhibit from Sept.
1 – Oct. 4 at Monsoon. A reception will be held from 7-10 p.m as part
of SouthSide Bethlehem’s First Friday.
Harryn’s professional career began in the mid-1970s, during a time
of tremendous energy and change in the art world, particularly in New York
City. There was an influx of international artists and styles converging
in a creative atmosphere of critical and intellectual debate. This is the
well from which Harryn drew his inspiration, insight and work ethic, noted
Ranjeet Pawar, Art Director, Monsoon.
Trained in traditional materials and techniques at Northampton Community
College, Kutztown University and Philadelphia College of Art, Harryn quickly
graduated to a conceptual and abstract style for the purpose of more accurately
representing the complexities of our evolving society and global culture.
At the same time, he maintained his passion for experimental music, jazz
and poetry. These are the tools that formed his basic aesthetic and style.
Harryn believes that “the responsibility of the artist is to represent
the culture within which they live. In this complex and interdependent global
society that moves at such a breakneck pace, abstraction helps us to codify
and understand the word organism,” Harryn said.
This criteria forms the basis for his layering technique. “Imagine
if the same statement were repeated in 20 different languages – the
nuance, traditions and cultural inflections of each statement would vary.
What in that understanding becomes dominant, subservient or irrelevant?
Where is the balance in that diversity? In part, that is what my work is
about. But is also about beauty, mastery of materials and techniques, improvisation,
lyricism and pertinence,” Harryn said.
Monsoon Gallery will be representing examples of Harryn’s work over
the past 30 years, as well as providing a glimpse into future products of
this visionary artist.
Magazine: Lehigh Valley Magazine - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: Sept./Oct. 2006
Artist: Paul Harryn
“Monsoon Harbors Talented Artists in the Lehigh Valley”
After two and half years and at least 50 layers of darn and dusk-hued paints,
artist Paul Harryn finally completed his works entitled “Kimono.”
They hang on white walls in his studio, a 200-year-old renovated barn in
the Bucks County area. Harryn grew up in the Lehigh Valley and began exhibiting
in New Hope, Pa. in 1974. Over 30 years later and after traveling around
the world, he will show his art this September in a retrospective exhibit
at Monsoon Gallery in Bethlehem. The exhibit will look back on pieces spanning
different times in his career, a visual display of his 30-year journey as
In the 1990s Harryn owned a studio on 3rd Street in Bethlehem, just a few
doors down from Monsoon. Although 1996 marked his most recent exhibit in
the area, he has always maintained his local roots. “No matter where
else he’s been, he’s always had a studio in the Lehigh Valley,”
says Ranjeet Pawar, Art Director of Monsoon. “He’s developed
quite a following, not just in the Bethlehem area but in the industry as
Harryn creates his art by layering and editing coats of paint. On canvas
he will use up to 30 layers; on wood, the piece can reach 60 or 70 layers
thick. Without any preconceived plan for the final piece, Harryn begins
by painting one layer onto the surface and deciding which parts he likes.
He then creates an entirely new painting on top of the first one, leaving
his favorite parts, and repeats this process anywhere between 30 to 70 times.
“The painting becomes an amalgamation of every good painting on the
surface,” he says.
The September exhibit will give Harryn the chance to display his art to
clients and locals who have never seen his work before. Pawar believes Harryn’s
Lehigh Valley connection will make the exhibit special for visitors, “Because
he gained perspective and returned to the area,” says Pawar.
If you miss Harryn’s Retrospective exhibit in September, you can still
catch Hinrich Schueler when he comes to Monsoon with his innovative artwork
in October. Schueler comes from Germany and uses movement and color in his
Magazine: The Morning Call - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: September 17, 2006
Artist: Paul Harryn
“An abstract observer”
Paul Harryn’s first solo exhibition 30 years ago was a controversial
affair at Bethlehem’s City Hall. Some of the young artist’s
paintings were removed at the behest of the mayor, Harryn was branded a
rebel, and the publicity helped skyrocket his career to New York, Los Angeles,
and Europe. He always kept a home in his native Lehigh Valley, however.
Eventually, Harryn became a key figure in the arts renaissance of south
Bethlehem before moving to his current headquarters, the restored ‘Coffeetown
Barn’ near Raubsville.
The old firebrand never really left, but his current one-person show, “Retrospective:
1976-2006,” still has the feel of a homecoming. It’s Harryn’s
first local show in a decade. And this time, the only people taking paintings
down are collectors.
Looking back at his heady early days in the 1970s, Harryn insists he was
never really a revolutionary. “Whenever you’re young and you
try to do anything they call you a rebel,” he jokes. “I deal
with the same issues in my work now as I did then, but I guess I’m
too old to be a rebel.”
His work has changed, however. There is certainly nothing in the Monsoon
show as scandalous as the piece, described by Harryn as “a bunch of
nudes dancing around this heartless demonic figure,” that got under
the skin of Mayor Gordon Mowrer. Titled “A Dedication to Their St.
Manson,” it was a reference to Charles Manson, who Harryn felt was
emblematic of the times. What remains in Harryn’s current work, and
plenty of it, is depth, both aesthetic and philosophical.
The retrospective includes 30 works. There are pieces from the mid ‘70s
to early ‘80s, a time Harryn calls “a period of experimentation,”
a time when the word first got out about this young artist to collectors,
including the late Philip Berman, who became a lifelong Harryn patron. Later
pieces show Harryn’s layered style of “controlled abstraction,”
a style that has built his reputation.
The show, like Harryn’s career as a whole, is perhaps best understood
as a series of series. The first major period in his work was the “Re-Enchantment”
series of the early 1980s. He looks back fondly on this stage as a time
where “I came into my own style.” He created about 500 pieces
at this time, represented in the retrospective by “Re-enchantment:
Dream Time,” painted in 1986. On a large canvas blotched with colors,
jagged shapes gives way to identifiable forms. You can trace the shape of
a face and even, perhaps as a nod to the classical art that Harryn has always
revered alongside modern abstraction, the form of the Venus de Milo.
“Signals and Cells” was Harryn’s series of the late 1980s
to early 1990s. “The Origins of Memory” serves as an excellent
example of this period. At 5 feet high and 12 feet wide, the three painting
triptych dominates a corner of Monsoon. It is subdued in color, but exploding
with energy and power. Abstract white forms rise up from the black background
like forces of nature or a half-forgotten memory in a dark corner of your
Harryn refers to the next series as his “White Paintings,” but
they are certainly not blank or monochromatic. Even the whites are layered
in tones of off-white, tan and gray, while abstract forms dance in the foreground
like calligraphy strokes. Also known as the “To Tell a Vision…”
series, these works were inspired by Asian sumi-e strokes, and they exhibit
a delicate calm and beauty.
Tucked into the corner of Monsoon’s gallery, as if in subtle refutation
of the insidious assumption that modern artists can’t draw, there
are also three ink drawings Harryn did in the 1970s. Carefully crafted and
highly realistic, “Illick’s Mill Falls” and “The
Reid Barn” show a trained hand in representational mode. Indeed, Harryn
was trained in traditional methods, as well as modern art at Northampton
Community College, Kutztown University and the University of the Arts in
Philadelphia. He says he has chosen to work primarily in abstraction, not
because he has to, but because he feels it is the best way to comment on
the culture we live in. “I don’t really do that kind of
[representational] work anymore,” he says. “I’ve been
so preoccupied with abstraction.”
Placing art history in the context of the changing world, Harryn explains
that abstract expressionism – such as in the chaotic action paintings
of Jackson Pollock – was a direct response to global events such as
World War II, the atomic bomb and the rapid ascension of the American culture.
“Nothing expressed the energy and vitality and the movement as much
as abstract expressionism,” Harryn says.
Even if these paintings are known for being difficult to decipher, Harryn
still believes that art is about communication. “At the core of every
artist is the need to communicate,” he says. But Harryn insists that
part of the responsibility is the art viewer’s as well. “I think
the most important thing that an audience can do is look at a piece of art
and ask, ‘What is the artist trying to communicate?’ You have
to take that journey,” he says.
Journeying through Harryn’s work, as in the best of all abstract are,
one finds more ideas that might immediately meet the eye. His most recent
series, “The Paris Paintings,” named because of the unique color
palette Harryn found on a visit to the capital of France, are a good example.
These are his layered paintings, which quite literally take a multi-tiered
approach to a painting. Harryn applies acrylic paint to the canvas in one
abstract coat and then selects and protects the best parts with a coat of
latex before painting another layer. One painting can go through as many
as 60 layers, the result being a complex and beautiful visual that is both
aesthetically pleasing and contains and underlying message.
painting becomes the amalgamation of all the good events,” he explains.
“The good parts are covered up and protected, whereas the less than
pleasing parts are covered up. In a sense, it almost becomes Darwinian.
If you think about the Darwinian sense of evolution, there are things that
survive and things that are weaker.”
Diving deeper into these rich paintings, a cultural context emerges as well.
“In the end, our culture, and the global community at large, has become
this wonderful amalgamation of all things that come from a different historical
standpoint,” he explains. “Yet they all co-exist simultaneously
in this fragile balance. And that’s the same way the painting works.”
Harryn’s work is in museums from Allentown (Allentown Art Museum)
to Brooklyn (Brooklyn Museum of Art) to Los Angeles (Los Angeles County
Museum of Art). His work is in the homes of a hundred private collectors,
and on the walls of corporate offices. His paintings even made an appearance
in a Hollywood film, decorating an apartment in Steve Martin’s 2004
However, at 54 years old, Harryn is clearly not interested in retirement.
He still paints every day, for as much as 12 hours a day, buzzing on coffee
and cigarettes much like the art school student of decades past. He’s
also a musician, playing bass and keyboards to create “modern improvisational”
sounds, which he has recorded on CDs. And he also is writer, publishing
books about art and a collection of poetry and essays.
Asked for how he finds the time for it all, Harryn responds: “I just
don’t find sleep very rewarding.” And when asked to name the
highlight of his career, he answers without hesitation. “I know what
it is. It’s my next painting.”
Magazine: PPL Magazine
Date: October 2006
Artist: Hinrich Schueler
“Artist’s colorful PPL ties”
When PPL Electric Utilities foreman Bruce Johnson heard that a German artist
was looking for a place to stay while he showed his work in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
he readily volunteered his house. Johnson had hosted Hinrich Schueler last
year while his abstract paintings were at the Apollo Grill in the city.
This month, Schueler was in the Lehigh Valley to unveil his collection at
Monsoon Gallery, also in Bethlehem. “It was a lot of fun to have
Hinrich and his wife stay with us,” said Johnson, who has worked for
PPL for 40 years. “They are incredibly nice people and very helpful
around the house.”
Schueler’s “Dreamscapes” series feature earth tones –
oranges, greens, blues and reds – layered to create a soothing image.
“These hues are applied in the classical manner of watercolor painting,
which is worked out in many layers,” said Schueler in a statement
at Monsoon Gallery. “Some of my works show up to 60 layers of different,
translucent and highly thinned colors.”
Schueler’s work has another tie to PPL – Bryce Shriver, president
of PPL Generation, has five of the paintings hanging in his office. They
met his three criteria for artowkr: it can’t resemble engineering
schematics, it should be inspiring and he has to like it. “When you
look at these paintings, you see something different every time,”
Shriver said. “That’s what I like about them – they take
you someplace you wouldn’t go on your own.”
Johnson met Schueler through the Bethlehem Schwdbisch Gmnd Association.
Schueler needed a place to stay, and Johnson wanted to continue his many
relationships with Germans. He has dozens of friends in the country after
various trips, and he often has visitors from overseas. He first traveled
to Germany after his friend, a college professor, invited Johnson and his
wife, Sally, to come along on a trip with students. After resisting the
offer several times, he went for it. “We had the time of our lives,”
Johnson said. “I fell in love with the country, and I’ve taken
six or seven trips over there. It’s a wonderful place to visit. They
speak English very well, and they really treat us fantastic.”
Schueler’s artwork will be on display at Monsoon Gallery through October
31. “His paintings are very soothing to the eyes,” Johnson said.
“They make you feel tranquil and are a good way to relieve stress.”
Paper: The Bethlehem Press - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Date: November 29, 2006
Artist: The Baum School of Art, Heather Sincavage, Ranjeet Pawar
“Baum in Bethlehem”
The Baum School of Art travels to Bethlehem for “The Baum School of
Art Faculty Exhibition: Sharing Inspiration,” opening with a First
Friday reception 7-10 p.m. Dec. 1 and an invitation-only reception 6-8 p.m.
Dec. 2 at Monsoon Gallery. It’s the first time the school’s
faculty has collectively exhibited their artwork in a fine art gallery outside
of Baum. “With the richness and diversity of the Southside’s
growing art scene, we felt it an exciting venue from which to build a partnership,”
said Baum School Executive Director Ann Lalik. The Baum School is a non-profit
community art school at 5th and Linden streets in Allentown. Students may
pursue college credit through Lehigh Carbon Community College and Penn State
Lehigh Valley. Baum faculty exhibiting include: Renzo Faggioli, William
Wentz, Nicole Demjan, Lexi Erickson, Adriano Farinella, Rosemary Geseck,
Ann Lalik, Jennifer Nahan-Gidley, Edward Nowak, Lydia Panas, Pamela Pike,
Pamela Ptak, Heather Sincavage, Katina Sossiadis Bozikis, Thomas Unger,
Dana Van Horn, and Charles Vlasics.
Magazine: : The Morning Call - Allentown, Pennsylvania
Date: December 21, 2006
Artist: The Baum School of Art, Heather Sincavage
“Baum teachers make boxed-in feel free at Monsoon”
Startling viewing boxes dominate a provocative exhibit of objects by Baum
School of Art teachers at Monsoon in Bethlehem. It’s the first time
faculty members have participated in a group show off-campus.
War battles peace in Katina Sossiadis Bozikis’ gripping shadow plays
of genocide. Sketching and collaging in gouache, she depicts stealing, burning
and raping on rice paper or vellum stretched over illuminated boxes. The
most lashing work is “Burning of Smyrna,” a nightmarish view
of the 1922 destruction of a largely Christian Turkish city – now
called Izmir – that forced Bozikis’ relatives to flee Greece.
A ghostly male puppet chokes a ghostly female puppet, an angel carries burning
buildings on a time-bomb globe and paint drips like blood.
Time battles space in Tom Laudenslager’s ceramic furnaces of perception.
He cunningly arranges found objects – watch parts, a rusty can, a
curved postcard of a piazza – in slotted vessels that mimic everything
from a miniature adobe hut to an avant-garde television set. In “Bound
Together” twined nails hang like a pendulum in a prison cell, a skylight
casting a ticking shaft of light.
Violation battles protection in Heather Sincavage’s “The Apothecary
Chest.” Her self-portrait zigzags over staggered boxes stacked on
a segmented table. At one point her painted hand appears to hammer painted
and real nails. Rear cubbyholes filled with talismans – animal skulls,
children’s books, photo of a masked Luciano Pavarotti – are
tentacled by stockings dyed maroon. Tea bags stained to remember used tampons
complete an inventive, involving marriage of hope chest and Pandora’s
Non-viewing boxes are pretty theatrical, too. “Coque Feliz,”
a primitive, futuristic necklace by Lexi Erickson, includes a pendant set
with a swooshing, holographic piece of malachite. Colin Schleeh’s
wood-veneer vases are graceful, sexy and a clever use of a maligned material.
Susan Ward’s 26-inch glass bowls are explosive, implosive universes
of fossilized leaves, Dutch and oriental landscapes and deft simulations
of lacquered coal and skin-like tin.
Gallery, 11 East 3rd Street Bethlehem, PA 18015
Located in Southside Bethlehem's Arts District, via 378
Art Director: Ranjeet Pawar
Gallery Manager: Rori Prushinski