Melissa Maiorano might not be the most famous local artist, but not for lack of trying. A prolific painter who has dedicated herself to preserving a bit of a fading Bayonne, Maiorano has become something of a chronicler of everyday life in the city, preserving images not so much of city history, but of ordinary people and the world they live in.
Perhaps best known for the five-panel “Wall of Remembrance” featured in the Dorothy Harrington Council Chambers in City Hall, Maiorano’s work generally depicts much more ordinary things, sometimes because she is struck by an image, sometimes because someone commissions her to capture a memory for them.
Maiorano will be named Artist of the Year by the Jersey City-based Hudson Artists of New Jersey at its 57th annual Regional Exhibition, being held at the Bayonne Public Library on Oct. 24 starting at 12:30 p.m.
Founder Marge Colavito said Maiorano was named Artist of the Year because of her work and her involvement in the community.
“She’s painted the Bayonne light house and the Bayonne Bridge, and she also teaches art part time.” – Marge Colavito
The exhibition is a competitive show, with a number of categories that include water color painting, graphics, mixed media, photography, and sculpture. First, second, and third awards will be given at the event.
The show has 95 pieces from artists all over Hudson County and New Jersey, as well as a few from New York.
One of the local artists, Joe Gilmore, is also a tenor singer, and will perform at the event.
Bringing art to the public
Hudson Artists encourages public participation through art exhibits, demonstrations, and general membership meetings.
“Our group’s goal is to unite local artists and art organizations throughout New Jersey to spark general interest in multi-media art,” Colavito said.
Maiorano, who has lived in Bayonne since 1991, has done many other works over the years, and has become a local favorite for painting scenes in and around Bayonne. Once a staff concept illustrator and package designer for Revlon Inc., she has been a regular exhibitor around Bayonne and Hudson County, and has been a freelance illustrator and artist on her own since 2001.
From 1996 to 2006, she was the owner of the Studio Window, a storefront gallery on West 22nd Street, where she also offered instruction in drawing and watercolor painting. She also served as a volunteer and art teacher for the Simpson Baber Foundation, planning drawing activities as well as working with autistic children and their parents.
“I’ve been an artist all my life,” Maiorano said during a recent interview. “I’m always doing it.”
A board member of the Hudson Artists of New Jersey and the Ocean County Artists Guild, Maiorano said many local scenes – as well as the seaside – have inspired her. She said she began to think of art as a serious profession while still in high school. She later attended the Philadelphia College of Art, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Parsons School of Design in New York City.
She said she is often inspired by themes of nature, community, and expressions of faith.
Many of Maiorano’s works depict scenes that are passing away in Bayonne. So in this regard, she is capturing moments in time. This is also true of commissioned works, in which people hire her to draw a particular scene they want preserved. Sometimes people keep them, but often these are gifts to sons or daughters who no longer live in Bayonne.
Many of the prints Maiorano sells around town are images of the community and her explorations. Sometimes she draws things that have special meaning to her, such as an old sycamore tree that represented a neighborhood, growth, and history. Many of Maiorano’s works have such symbols in them, representing something else in her mind.
Maiorano has exhibited annually with the Hudson Artists of New Jersey, the Bayonne Historical Society, the New Jersey Meadowlands Environmental Center, the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, and the Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts. She is currently a member of Atlantic Gallery, a Chelsea artists’ cooperative in New York City where she will have her second shared solo show this coming March 2011.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.