Paul Genader is a painter. His studio is a half hour west of New York City.
In 1983 I graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from The Ridgewood School of Art and Design in Ridgewood, New Jersey. I had entered school with the intent of learning filmmaking and animation, then discovered the solitary nature of painting better suited my creative temperament so I switched majors to Fine Art. After learning the technical skills of painting, I became fascinated with the physical qualities of the paint itself, and with brushwork. Exploring the possibilities of paint caused me to shift away from representational work to total abstraction, and painting became an intellectual voyage of discovery.
The success of this voyage, I believed, hinged upon creative independence. In order to be free to experiment in different styles and maintain control of development and output, I kept my art private and worked as a carpenter, and later as an antique dealer. I envisioned a future where my business would give me financial security and later in life, as a mature artist, I could make my art public without the pressure of commercial considerations, and my success would be measured by the quality of the art, not on sales receipts.
Sometime in the early 1990s an illness in the family forced me to leave my business to become a full time care provider. Events of the following years saw me surrounded by illness and financial distress followed by bankruptcy, death and isolation. Yet the painting continued.
In 2000 I was free to rebuild my former life. After several years and several failed ventures, and while struggling to build an under capitalized business, my mother was grievously stricken and once again I needed to leave business to become a full time care provider, thus repeating the cycle of long term illness, bankruptcy, death, and isolation.
After the family homestead was sold and debts were settled there was enough left to provide me with a modest opportunity to finance another business venture. This time, however, I would forgo the old practices...it was time to take my art public. Not only had this been my goal all along, but at this point it was the only viable path left for me to pursue.
I found an old house was for rent in Cedar Lake, NJ. It was a suitable space to live and work at a price I could afford. I settled there in the spring of 2010 and set to work on a portfolio which was the culmination of 30 years of painting.
The new paintings were sculpted polystyrene wall-hanging forms approximately three and a half by four feet and two feet thick. They were voluptuous, irregular shapes featuring undulating surfaces, contrasts of solids and voids, protrusions and embedded objects. The textures varied and the paint application was complex.
One evening in December 2011 the house burned and the new portfolio, 30 years of old art, and most everything else was lost or ruined. There are no photos to illustrate my sculpted paintings. And, unfortunately, there was no insurance to offset the losses.
A temporary residence was found in cabin 3A, somewhere in the woods north of Cedar Lake. It was barely large enough to store what tools and supplies had survived the fire. So, although I had some stuff, I had no place to work. Nevertheless, it was shelter in a storm and a base from where I could plot a future course.
Shortly afterwards my modest investments soured and my ability to "start life over" disappeared. Meaningful employment proved elusive so a network of small time construction gigs was patched together, but the overall income was, typically, insufficient to pay the rent and cover necessary expenses. And so began an extended period of extreme deprivation and austerity.
The artwork continued throughout the following years but was limited to photography and drawing. The gig work never developed into a sustainable income and a good job was never more than a mirage on the horizon. Realizing I would not be getting a studio and recreating the sculpted paintings within the framework of the on-going situation, I abandoned the plans of my pre-fire world. The post-fire world demanded new thinking.
In the beginning of 2016 a series of small constructed paintings was built outside cabin 3A. The painting of these forms had to wait until the warmer weather. By then, however, emergencies had evaporated the well of money reserved for paint. It wasn't until the end of the year that enough paint had been stock piled to begin work, but by then it was too cold to paint with acrylics outdoors.
Around the end of January 2017 I fell from a ladder and broke a foot, ankle, and leg. With no insurance it was left to heal as best it could. My network of small jobs unraveled and my van began to break down on a regular basis. Rent on cabin 3A was consistently tardy, making the year stressful for all involved. Yet, somehow, over the year the 3A Series of paintings was completed.
In January of 2018 my landlord informed me he was operating a business and not a charity. I was homeless in winter. Mercifully, a Good Samaritan put my paintings in storage and then found a construction site where I could barter labor for room and board. My situation was secure until the job was completed in the spring. The rest of the year was spent in a state of flux. By the end of the year the situation had rebounded a bit. And, by the grace of God and the goodwill of friends, 2019 began with locating an affordable place to paint.
The 1,200 sq. ft. industrial shop I found in Boonton, NJ served me well throughout 2019. The lease was for a year and then month to month. The landlord was desiring another year's lease when the Corona plague crashed the economy. The collectors' network I had developed stopped buying paintings, art fairs were cancelled and my gallery were closed due to pandemic lockdown orders. It seemed I would not be able to commit to a lease as my income dried up so I had to vacate the studio by April 1st 2020.
With no where to go the situation seemed bleak. Then Neo Art gallery offered to divide their space, allowing me to store my art in the back and, carve out an area to paint in while they kept the front as a showroom.
Times are uncertain but the art continues.
2020: Group Show from February - April at The Theresa A. Maloney Gallery.
2019: November. Solo exhibit. Neo Art Gallery, Boonton, NJ.
2018: Jan/Feb, ten works from 3A Series in group show, Maloney Gallery.
2017: October. Private exhibit, The 3A Series, Donna Compton's Gallery at River's Edge.
2014: Fall. Included in group show, The Theresa A. Maloney Gallery, Morristown, NJ.
2014: Spring. The Drop Cloth Series, Compton Gallery at The Paterson Art Factory.
2013: October. Solo exhibit, The Drop Cloth Series, Compton Gallery, Boonton, NJ.
2013: January. Solo Exhibit, Expanded Photography, Compton Gallery.
Metaphor for life: It was perpetually winter at cabin 3A. Barren. Cold. Harsh. Spring was always "sometime in the future."
But there was a beauty to it.
And the door was always open.
Work on The 3A Series began in January 2016.
Construction persisted through snow and rain. Painting couldn't commence until 2017. Same conditions - different year.
Pictured above: the painter expecting a thaw.