HACPAC

Art Gallery
Welcome to The Gallery at HACPAC, a captivating space where both local and professional artists converge to showcase their remarkable talent. Our gallery is a dynamic hub that celebrates the diverse artistic expressions from within our community and beyond.

An exhibition of paintings by the Newark born artist, George Mueller will be on display at The Gallery at HACPAC, Hackensack Performing Arts Center from May 3rd through June 1st.

This collection of paintings by the late George Ludwig Mueller (1929-2021) includes work from the last decades of his life and reflect a few of the many challenges he and his work endured since his early success as a New York Abstract Expressionist of the 1940s.

Mueller was born of German immigrant parents in Newark, N.J. in 1929, attended Newark Arts High and studied architecture before leaving Cooper Union in his early twenties to join contemporaries and life-long friends: Robert Motherwell, Carmen Cicero, Franz Kline, and his mentor: John Ferren. As a young artist his work was widely accepted and promoted by New York museums and traveled to major venues around the country. He was represented initially by Borgenicht Gallery and collected by The Whitney, Guggenheim, and Chicago Museums. In those early years his work was reviewed by The New York Times and appeared in articles in Esquire and The New Yorker. Before the age of 25 he had won a Guggenheim Fellowship and his paintings were acclaimed at the Brussels Biennale of 1958. The Biennale was one of several significant and controversial exhibitions for  young American abstract painters at that time. The American artists were intentionally juxtaposed and compared to their Russian Realist counterparts by MOMA and the American Government during those culturally competitive years of the Cold War.

But closely following this initial success, Mueller found his feet as a mature and independent painter, switching mediums from oil to a then, new substance: Acrylic paint. His compositions consisted of clean, hard edged forms and precise honed bands of color, often times bright and unsettling. He used blocks of solid pigment that gradually present as abstract metaphors by pairing edges in subtle relationships with unerring choices of color and balancing shapes to form cohesive statements implying empty interiors, suggestions of 19th century architecture, lonely front porches at dusk, and barren landscapes, representing a personal inner life revealed in completely abstract territory.

By the early 60s Mueller was finding Borgenicht Gallery unwilling to support or promote his geometric work. Not unusual, he was encouraged to continue painting in the style that had become successful for the gallery. He switched to Grippi Gallery, then to Waddell, and then to Straley Gallery. However, personality conflicts and continued lack of support for his artistic freedom eventually led to insurmountable disagreements nearly everywhere. By the time Mueller’s work had been reviewed in magazines and collected by major museums and collectors, he had come to a mutual standoff with New York’s art scene. But though he abandoned the city and moved to a remote farm on a mountain in northern New Jersey, his work was never interrupted or compromised. He continued to walk to his studio each morning and paint everyday into old age.

The exhibition at The Gallery at HACPAC features canvases from the hard edged, microtonal, and geometric periods. He left a prolific body of serious work, spread over America and parts of Europe; a legacy that he seldom bothered to contemplate while alive. He considered his life and work simply as “inevitable.” It was the outcome of a life’s passion. Mueller passed away at the age of 92 in 2021. Asked about his long career as a painter, he replied:

“Am I running out of steam? Would there be anything wrong with that? Have I been wasting my life? Has it all been a big mistake? The only consolation is that I never felt any need to substitute anything else for painting. I never said, ‘Gee, I wish I had been the owner of a corporation.” Or, ‘I should have been a dictator’… No inclination whatsoever to do anything other than what I’ve done.”

Meet our Curator

Kim Schmitt Thomas

Kim’s mission for the Gallery at HACPAC is twofold. By bringing compelling and lively exhibitions to the community, Kim hopes to encourage a deeper appreciation for art, as it holds the power to greatly enrich our lives, especially in today’s fast paced, high-tech world. Additionally, while exhibiting the works of more established artists, Kim also seeks out new motivated artists who have built cohesive and intriguing bodies of work. As a full-time working artist herself, Kim is aware of how challenging it can be for emerging artists to be granted gallery exhibitions and believes in offering opportunities for new creatives to show their work. In addition to her work as Gallery Director and Curator for the Gallery at HACPAC, Kim works as the in-house artist at hOMe Store, an interior design and furnishing store in Hawthorne, NJ. There, she paints original pieces in her studio and also creates commissioned works specifically for clients’ spaces. Kim is also represented by Barsky Gallery of Hoboken, NJ, CINQ Gallery in Dallas, TX, The Art Collective Gallery in Rogers, AR, and also exhibits at Glen Hansen Studios in Southold, NY, as well as the Gallery at HACPAC. Kim’s work hangs in both private and corporate collections across the country, and has been featured in (201) Magazine, The Bergen Record, The New York Times, Furniture Today, Dallas Style & Design Magazine.