Found objects, mixed media in new art show

'American Travels,' the work of Bill Rabsey and Liza J. Smith-Simpson, at the ARTery Gallery through July 4

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  • Liza J. Smith Simpson, collage

  • Sculpture by Bill Rabsey

  • Sculpture by Bill Rabsey

  • Liza J. Smith Simpson, acrylic, "The Calm Before the Storm"

MILFORD — "American Travels," the work of Bill Rabsey and Liza J. Smith-Simpson now at the ARTery Gallery, 210 Broad St., Milford, runs through July 4.

Both Rabsey and Smith-Simpson grew up with artists in their families. Rabsey recalls time spent with his grandfather, William Bertkau, who would tell of painting a life-sized locomotive for the 1939 World's Fair. Smith-Simpson said that with her artist-mother, Janet E. Smith, "we would travel the beautiful country roads of the tristate area together looking for a road or barn that inspired us." Constructing a "great" abstract comes from watching her dad fixing something from repurposed parts.

'Lost and Found'The mystery of Bill Rabsey's work continues with the "Lost and Found" series, in which old and unusual objects find new life and meaning as art pieces and sculptures. He doesn't prohibit any object from his work. Subtle earth tones, textures and random shapes supplied by rusting metal, colorful copper and brass, wood objects, antique toys and tools become the palette from which he works. He attaches the sculptures to exotic bases of mahogany, teak and rosewood. Many of the objects were found along the shores of the Hudson River, where past industries once stood. He also has found interesting objects from his travels and visits to antiques stores.

He received his bachelor's in social studies from SUNY New Paltz and a master's from Teachers College Columbia University. It was at Columbia where he became a supervisor, overseeing the graduate students who were employed in the media lab doing photography, film and television production. Then he was employed by the Middletown School District, in the Media Center. Since retiring he has been able to focus his attention on creating art from his vast collection of objects.

'Every Path Leads to a Journey'Smith-Simpson's saying has been "Every Path Leads to a Journey." Just as America is diverse, her journey has nurtured diversity in her work, which is reflected with a variety of mediums, substrates and styles she uses interchangeably. She derives most of her subject matter from nature, finding the country roads, rivers, lakes and even NY City scenes of great inspiration.

If she isn't sitting outside painting and sketching, she will use her camera as a record of the view that has inspired her. It's not just about putting on canvas what she loves. It is also about capturing the viewer's interest by using a compositional formula and providing focal points. This is seen in her painting "The Calm Before the Storm," in an area where her Dad worked in Sparta Township. This acrylic painting shows the movement of the clouds and how calm the water is before the storm. The white light and reflection in the water tells you there is a storm approaching.

Her natural curiosity to discover what's going on behind the scenes has lead her to develop her successful abstract series. "Flight Paths", "The Future is a Portal" and "Coming in for a Landing" are constructed using rich color palettes and handmade collage pieces.

Smith-Simpson received a bachelor of art degree with a major in psychology from Caldwell University. Her paintings have been purchased for private collections in the U.S. and Canada. She has also taken many place awards.

Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Monday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information call 570-409-1234 or visit

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