In between displays of Batman-related memorabilia and other popcultural artifacts, visitors to Gotham Red Bank have been treated to an ongoing wall exhibit of “relief sculptures” by Bill Mack. And just as the Minnesota-based artist’s creations tend to dip a toe into the dimension beyond their frames, so will Mr. Mack himself leave his Minneapolis homebase for a two-day, in-person Broad Street sojourn that takes place this Friday and Saturday.
The mustachioed Midwesterner, whose website touts his standing as “the world’s preeminent relief sculptor,” will be joined for a total of four Meet the Artist sessions by a fellow Minnesotan, whose work has also graced the walls of Gotham — the self-described “painter of movement” Gary Welton.
Together, the gallery-exhibited creatives will be on hand to greet the public and discuss their work, between the hours of 12 to 3 pm, and again from 6 to 10 pm, on both Friday and Saturday.
It’s a major move for the recently established restaurant that also bills itself as a Fine Art Gallery — one characterized as “catapulting Gotham into the exhibition league of sophisticated gallery performance venues in London, Paris, Oslo, Munich and Singapore.”
It’s also a high-profile local showcase for Mack, a “youthful and enthusiastic, ambitious and stylish” creator and collector who’s adopted a red rose bud as his signature accessory — and who’s no shrinking violet when it comes to his official bio, a document that makes clear that he “has no mentors. There is nowhere to go to learn his art. No one teaches his technique. Sculptor Bill Mack works in such a rare art form that coming up with a name to describe it has been only slightly less arduous than creating the art itself.”
The “romantic realist” also boasts a Hollywood connection that runs both ways — having seen his creations housed in the personal collections of Elton John, Celine Dion, Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro and many others — as well as a couple of former Presidents, legendary athletes, country singers, captains of industry and the crown Prince of Monaco. At the same time, he’s become noted as a connoisseur of collectibles that range from original artworks (by Miro, Chagall, Picasso and others) and historic documents, to movie costumes worn by the likes of Clark Gable, Elvis Presley, Lon Chaney, and Bert (Cowardly Lion) Lahr.
A painter whose works on paper and canvas have been seen at galleries throughout North America — and by extension the world, thanks to exhibiting arrangements with major cruise ship lines — Welton takes inspiration for his “choreographed” images from the dynamic art of the dancer in motion; describing himself as “a conduit, a transmitter of the dancer’s energy to the viewer, the final receiver of the experience.”
A portion of proceeds from the artists’ sales will be dedicated to the Michael Fux Foundation, the Monmouth County-based nonprofit established by Fux, the Cuban-born entrepreneur and philanthropist who briefly owned and operated Blue Water Seafood on Broad Street. With a stated mission of enriching the lives of underprivileged children stricken with serious illnesses, the Foundation aims to build a regional companion facility to the Michael Fux Family Center at Miami Children’s Hospital.
RSVPs are requested for the various events on Friday and Saturday, and can be arranged by calling the Gotham Art Line (no confirmation as to whether that would be a red telephone under glass, a la Commissioner Gordon’s office) at (732) 275-5041.