Art Strings 2013–14 Painted Violin Raffle

Art Strings combines the visual and performing arts to raise funds for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s extensive music education and community engagement programs. Ten local artists were commissioned to create individual works of art using unfinished violins as their canvas, drawing inspiration from a musical program or work the NJSO is presented in its 2013–14 season. NJSO volunteer ambassadors generously donate their time to display the violins at NJSO concerts and selected art galleries throughout New Jersey.

Now in its 13th year, this wonderful project has featured more than 130 violins—each and every one created by a different local artist—and has raised nearly $124,000! Read an NJSO: Backstage profile on the Art Strings program.

2013–14 Art Strings Collection

Click on photo to enlarge and view both sides of the violin.

Photos by Fred Stucker Photography


Artist: Rachael Faillace, Rahway
Winner: Margaret Nankivell

“I chose Verdi’s Requiem, a piece that was originally composed in memory of Italian poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni and performed in the setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass. I wanted to capture a sense of the purpose and beauty of this piece in the violin's design. I used the colors and patterning of traditional stained glass windows found in many churches as the basis for the design, and embellished it with gold and bits of color resembling the textures and warmth of painted and stained glass.”

Rachael Faillace is an artist, curator and arts administrator who resides in Rahway, NJ. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA, Rachael went on to receive an MFA from Rutgers University—Mason Gross School of the Arts. As an artist, Rachael has exhibited at numerous non-profit art centers and is known for her drawings and sculptural installations. Her most recent body of work, Invasives, was exhibited in The Garden Statement at Kean University Galleries. As a gallery administrator, Rachael has curated more than 20 exhibitions and coordinated many more. She is currently the executive director of Rahway Arts District in Rahway, NJ.


Artist: Janice Fried
Winner: Gabrielle Caprari

“The Art Strings project was a revelation to me. I had never worked on anything but paper and discovered how my mixed media style worked on wood. On paper, I use a combination of watercolor, colored pencil, ink and collage. I am particularly drawn to texture and pattern. The wood grain on the raw violin allowed for some interesting effects. I chose the 2014 Winter Festival program of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth) and Tan Dun’s Earth Concerto. Chinese composer Tan Dun used Mahler’s work as inspiration and Mahler used the poetry of the 8th century Chinese poet Li Bai. I designed the artwork on the violin to emphasize the Chinese and European influences in these two pieces.”

Janice Fried is a mixed media artist currently living in Metuchen, NJ. A graduate of Parsons School of Design with a BFA in illustration, Janice has been working in the field for more than 30 years.  Her work has been seen in magazines, children’s books and popular affirmation card decks published by Hay House publishers.



Artist: Karissa Harvey
Winner: Bell Patterson

“Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird has a mood that I found to be slightly creepy, yet enchanting and curious. I wanted my portrait of the composer to reflect this tone. I chose an image of Stravinsky that I felt to be ominous yet oddly inviting.”

Karissa Harvey is an emerging artist from Farmingdale, NJ. She received a BFA from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, in 2011. Her first solo show on her home turf took place in 2012 at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, as part of its Emerging Artists Series. Her work has also been featured in group shows at the Ironside Gallery in Arcata, CA; the 1st Street Gallery in Eureka, CA; and several student shows at Humboldt State University and San Diego City College. Locally, she has shown at Ruben’s World Gallery in Asbury Park, Gallery U in Red Bank, Hamilton Street Gallery in Bound Brook and at Laurita Winery in New Egypt.  Her work is currently available at both Main Avenue Galleria in Ocean Grove and at Moonstruck in Asbury Park.


Artist: Anat Klebanov
Winner: Linda Lutes

“The visual inspiration drawn from the music of Edvard Grieg is a personal interpretation of my imagination. Having been acquainted with the Peer Gynt Suite early in my childhood, I sought to contribute to the naive style and choice of imagery. I was trying to remember my early impressions from the music—mountains in the far Norwegian cold morning, trees in the forest and imaginary creatures that I believed lived there. I relied only on my imaginary memories and chose to ignore the story behind this music. I used acrylic paints and tried to apply the composition to the unique shape and dimensions of the violin, taking into consideration the construction and look of the instrument.”

Anat Klebanov has painted and worked in the arts since 1983. Klebanov moved to the United States from Israel in the late 1980s and has traveled internationally all of her life. Firsthand exposure to global art through her travels in Europe, Central and South America, the Caribbean and the United States has helped shape her artistic style. Klebanov has been featured in one-woman shows by Ward Lawrence Gallery, New York, NY; Visual Outlines, Winnetka, IL, and many other historical and renowned one-woman shows. Her work has also presented in group exhibitions at numerous galleries including the Emerging Collector Gallery, New York, NY; The Principal Gallery, Alexandria, VA; and Banaker Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Klebanov works from her studio in Ridgewood, NJ. Her work is published by her company, Anat Klebanov – Fine Art, and sells in the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and Israel.


Artist: Laura Mandile
Winner: Matthew Skrod

“When asked to choose a theme for my violin, Strauss’ Alpine Symphony stood out for several reasons. Not a symphony in the traditional sense, Alpine Symphony is a symphonic poem made up of 22 distinctly named sections, such as ‘Sunrise,’ ‘In a Flowering Meadow’ and ‘At the Summit.’ Together they depict not only a journey up the mountain, but also a celebration of nature. Each of these sections could have inspired a painting. I wanted to capture the essence of the music.

Using both sides of the violin, I tried to visualize all the nuances of Strauss’ journey, from woodwind birdcalls to thunder and tempest, from sunrise to sunset. In the end, I am proud of this piece, and hope that it brings enjoyment to all those who appreciate art.”

Laura Mandile has been creating art her entire life, from arts and crafts as a child, to careers as an illustrator, art director and art teacher. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Laura earned a BFA at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, majoring in illustration and design. After a career in advertising and design in the fashion and cosmetic industry, Laura retired to Middletown, NJ, where she pursued personal art projects and later earned a teaching certificate. As an art teacher at the middle school and high school levels, she was inspired to return to the fine arts, and she resumed her passion for drawing and painting. Her favorite mediums are pencil, oil and pastel. Laura’s work has been displayed at the Middletown Arts Center, Gallery U in Red Bank, Guild of Creative Art in Shrewsbury, where she is a member, and the Main Avenue Galleria in Ocean Grove, where she also teaches classes for both children and adults.

N14-Violin6-thumb.jpgViolin 6: PULCINELLA SUITE

Artist: John Mathias
Winner: James Ryan

“As an illustrator and a commercial artist I often gravitate towards unusual challenges. I knew nothing about the piece except that it involved a clown! So, how to convey the themes of the story on a violin without making kitsch? The 1700 Neapolitan story is drawn from popular stage comedies of Pulcinella the clown. The lighthearted plot involves courtship, jealousy, deception—the faking of Pulcinella’s death and multiple characters dressed in identical clown costumes. For my reference I used a ballet performance found on YouTube with the London Symphony Orchestra. I was also aware that the original Parisian production of 1920 featured sets and costumes by Pablo Picasso. I incorporated some of my interests in landscape, especially of the romantic Italian tradition, and tried to convey a little of the human emotion displayed by the ballet’s performers. I also set out to make a beautiful object and use color sparingly—rich blue and white with accents of black, pink and ivory along with subtle details of clear rhinestone.”

John grew up around Washington, D.C., in Chevy Chase, MD, and began painting in oils, studying the figure and plein air landscape from local instructor Walt Bartman in 1988. He earned a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City and began a freelance career in commercial art, providing illustrations and designs for newspaper, magazines, event postcards, band posters and packaging. As a painter in NYC, John worked on many commissions and exhibited locally in his Park Slope Brooklyn neighborhood. His style has been influenced by the work of Wayne Thiebaud, Edward Hopper and Edgar Degas, as well as illustrators Al Parker and Robert Fawcett. He has lived in Long Branch, NJ, since 2007. When not working on his own art, John helps run the family business—a wholesale jewelry line started by his wife in 2007.

N14-Violin7-thumb.jpgViolin 7: DANCES OF GALENTA

Artist: Amy Lynn Mills
Winner: Robert Jennes

“My violin is inspired by Zoltan Kodály's travels between his home and Galanta. He passed through many small towns from Budapest to Slovakia absorbing the culture between WWI and WWII. During this time, soldiers would also travel from town to town to entice new recruits by using folk dancers; this was the inspiration for the piece, Dances of Galanta.

I used the front of the violin to portray a map of his travels, the sides to give a peek to the views he would have encountered on a daily basis and the back to show one of the folk dancers with her military escorts.”

Amy Lynn Mills is an artist from Fanwood, NJ. She graduated from Montclair State University in May 2009 with a Bachelor Degree in Art, focused on the concentration in studio art. She is also a specialist in portraiture and in the art of flower arrangement. She has ongoing experience as an art dealer and personal assistant at Joni Rose Fine Gallery and as a teacher.

N14-Violin8-thumb.jpgViolin 8: RHAPSODY IN BLUE

Artist: Joni Rose
Winner: Rita and Robert Posner

Rhapsody in Blue was created while listening to Gershwin’s musical piece. The joyous melody has always been uplifting for me, and I was excited to translate my impressions onto the violin. I visualized swirling sounds and many shades of blue. Since I paint Morning Glory flowers from my garden, it came as a natural way for me to start. With the music playing, a sketchpad on my desk and pencils laid out, the stage was set! It all flowed from Gershwin’s music and within two hours, I had my drawing! The next step was to copy the design onto the violin. I colored the shapes with colored pencils and then used watercolors over them. The sides are painted with sparkling blue acrylic paint. The whole violin has about eight coats of acrylic gloss medium to preserve it. It was a joy and a wonderful experience!”

N14-Violin9-thumb.jpgViolin 9: THE SONG OF THE EARTH

Artist: Bernice Shah
Winner: Marcy Needle

“My inspiration for the violin project came from Gustav Mahler's symphony, The Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde). Mahler was Austrian and was considered a late Romantic who composed during the early part of the 20th century. As I listened and learned more about Mahler, an Austrian contemporary of his, Gustav Klimt, immediately came to mind. The stylized tree of life, curvy linear patterning and use of gold paint that I used expresses Klimt's art nouveau style as well as the Viennese Golden Age of the 1900s. The violin also expressed my painting style, which often incorporates patterning. Several layers of acrylics were used and the finishes were built up gradually. Once I developed the main theme, painting the violin became a totally organic experience with one idea bouncing off the next. I was honored to be selected as one of the artists in the Art Strings 2013–14 program; it was a fantastic experience.”

Art has been a lifelong interest of Bernice Shah. Graduating with a BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Shah has also taken courses at FIT, Art Students League, New School, School of Visual Arts in NY and Summit Center for Visual Arts.  Although she has experimented with many different media, her main areas of interest include painting, drawing and printmaking. Shah’s work has a narrative quality and has been influenced stylistically and thematically by Chuck Close, Alice Neel and Henri Matisse. Some of the ideas for her work are taken from extensive travel in South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Her paintings and drawings are done in a loose expressionistic style with the use of intuitive color. She has also exhibited with the Westfield Art Association, Millburn/Short Hills Art Fair, Summit Center for Visual Arts, Warren County Invitational Art Expo, Studio 8 in Summit and Pearl Street Gallery in Elizabeth, NJ. From 2002–06 she taught art courses for the senior scholars program at Union County College, Cranford, NJ.

N14-Violin10-thumb.jpgViolin 10: SHOOTING FOR THE STARS

Artist: Anjali Shalit
Winner: Becky Hoy

“I was thrilled to have chosen ‘Shooting for the Stars’ as the theme for my violin. I’ve wanted to do an outer space piece for a couple of years and Strauss’ Thus Spake Zarathurstra as excerpted for 2001: A Space Odyssey has become the iconic music for space exploration and the mystery of our vast universe. I’m particularly intrigued by the electric/plasma universe theory proposed by comparative mythologist David Talbott and physicist Wallace Thornhill, and as the universe would have it, a friend had previously sent me the beautiful little electronic circuit wires I incorporated into the piece. It was a match ‘made in heaven.’ I learned a lot and am grateful to have had this opportunity.”