ELIZABETH, NJ — To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Elizabeth Arts Council is holding an exhibit throughout the month of March, with an opening reception tonight, March 9, at Elizabeth’s main public library.
The works of artists Paula Borenstein, Virginia Mason Pagdon, Suree Minnatee, and Danielle Curia will be on display.
Since its inception in 1998, the EAC has been dedicated to its mission to support, promote and advance the arts and culture in and around Elizabeth.
The EAC promotes the work of individual local artists, writers and performers, providing advice, encouragement and resources, curating and installing art exhibits and organizing performances and poetry readings. Artists and performers from outside the area also contact the EAC for information and advice about local venues and cultural resources.
In addition, members of the EAC have contributed their talents and expertise to many undertakings in the Elizabeth community and in Union County, including the 9/11 Memorial Advisory Committee, Historic Midtown Elizabeth Community Action Partnership, Union County Theater Project, the Elizabeth Playhouse, St. Joseph’s Social Service Center, Union County Historical Society and the Elizabeth Public Library.
The EAC has also done shows with the Midtown Elizabeth Special Improvement District, and has a close working relationship with Elizabeth Playhouse.
Paula Borenstein, one of the founding members of the EAC whose art is being showcased at the exhibit, said that she helped found the EAC as a way for other artists in Elizabeth to connect.
“I put a call out,” Borenstein told LocalSource in a recent phone interview. “I felt that other artists in Elizabeth and other towns should find each other. To me, culture and the arts is what makes a city a fabulous place.”
Borenstein, who works with many mediums in her art, said that vintage clothing is one she uses in many of her projects.
“I used to buy and sell vintage clothing,” Borenstein said. “I never throw it out because it’s a canvas to me.”
According to Borenstein, her mother — a Holocaust survivor from Poland who ended up as an underground partisan — was a seamstress who opened up her own shop in Newark when she came to the United States after World War II.
“My mother was a master seamstress and I, literally, grew up at her feet in the shop,” Borenstein said. “My mother would give me pieces of fabric to play with. My art is very connected to my mother. I use everything I inherited from her, like buttons, thread and fabric. I’m addicted to sewing now.”
Borenstein’s father, who married her mother before the war broke out and was later separated from her when he became a prisoner of war, also sewed and helped out in the shop.
Pagdon, an Elizabeth resident who is also a founding member of the EAC, told LocalSource that she is a self-taught artist whose career has spanned more than 60 years.
“I started painting when I was a teen,” Pagdon said in a phone interview last week.
Four of Pagdon’s paintings, which are Impressionist-inspired pastels and watercolors, will be on display at the exhibit. Two of the paintings feature irises — reminiscent of the work of Impressionist artist Claude Monet — with another featuring a bowl of flowers. The last is a painting of Pagdon’s son.
“I do a lot of flowers and landscapes,” Pagdon said.
Painting, however, is just one of many artistic mediums that Pagdon uses in her artwork. She also makes jewelry, quilts, crochets and sews, and has dabbled in almost every artistic endeavor imaginable.
Borenstein lauded Pagdon’s work.
“Her work is very, very interesting,” Borenstein said. “The Pagdon family has been there from the beginning. Gini is one of the most multitalented people. She has a huge body of work.”
Minnatee, an Elizabeth resident, told LocalSource in a phone interview last week, that her interest in fine art started when she was attending Union County College.
“I always had an interest in creating art and also using technology with that,” Minnatee said.
Minnatee said that she often creates art in charcoal, pastels or India ink, then uses technology to alter it.
Four of Minnatee’s works are on display at the exhibit, all of which are mixed mediums in charcoal, India ink, and graphic design. Her works include “Further Humanity,’ which Minnatee describes as “simple but effective”; “Effervescent Glow,” which is a computer- altered work; “The Jester” and “The Crying Eye,” which are done in charcoal, graphite and ink.
Minnatee, who works as a veterinary technician in the county, said that the many exotic animals she sees at the animal hospital often inspire her artwork.
“I’m inspired lately by the exotic animals we’ve been seeing, like cockatiels, African grey parrots and geckos,” she said.
Borenstein lauded Elizabeth’s public library, saying that the EAC and the library have partnered many times.
“The library has really come through,” Borenstein said.
Borenstein also said that the EAC is working on bringing a municipal art gallery to Elizabeth.
For more information about the Elizabeth Arts Council visit