Art Strings 2015–16 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 presenting in its 2015–16 season. NJSO volunteer ambassadors generously donate their time to display the violins at NJSO concerts and select art galleries throughout New Jersey.

Now in its 15th year, this wonderful project has featured more than 150 violins—each and every one created by a different New Jersey artist—and has raised more than $150,000!

Read an NJSO: Backstage profile on the Art Strings program.

After an incredible year, the 2015–16 Art Strings Raffle came to a close on June 27, 2016. Here are the winners of this year’s painted violins: 

2015–16 Art Strings Collection

Click on the images below to view a larger version and the reverse side of the violins.

1516-ArtStrings-Violin1-sm.jpgViolin 1: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony

Artist: Sue Lyn Anderson Gioulis
Email: [email protected]
Winner: Hy Kleinman, West Orange

“Growing up with parents whose musical tastes were very classical, I grew to appreciate many of the great composers of the 18th and 19th centuries.  When I saw “Ode To Joy” was offered in this year’s program I was pleased to take on the challenge. The violin, painted with acrylics, features my rendering of Beethoven along with a portion of his score decoupaged on the front, with my simple expression of joy on the back. Though I love the entire poem written by Friedrich Shiller, I chose to embellish the sides of the violin with the first stanza. This opportunity has truly been joyful!”

Sue Anderson Gioulis has loved to draw since her childhood days in Westfield, NJ. She completed her art training at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL, and has continued a career in graphic design. Her drawings, paintings, logos, portraits and signage have been displayed in several states along the east coast. She is currently a member of the Manasquan River Group of Artists. She works in various media and accepts commission work for portraiture, house renderings and calligraphy. She is currently enjoying life by the shore in Ocean Grove.

1516-ArtStrings-Violin2-sm.jpgViolin 2: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Artist: Melissa Dargan Heintjes
Email: [email protected]
Winner: Mila Godovanick, Belleville

“Vivaldi’s Four Seasons communicates the synesthesia one feels when interacting with nature.  The color of flora, nature’s song, a butterfly’s movement, feeling the wind, smelling autumn’s arrival: these aspects of life speak to my soul and move me. Nature transcends speech much like Vivaldi’s compositions. I have the honor of teaching Bella, the subject of my piece, whose beauty is so pure she was not granted the power of words, leaving our method of communication to be that of art and music. Interacting with Bella is like communicating with a butterfly, wherein nature and beauty speak to one’s soul without words.”

Melissa Dargan Heintjes is a professional artist and teacher. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), earning a degree in Studio Art and a breakout show in New York City at the 80 Washington Square Gallery in 2008. Melissa has been painting murals in private homes and businesses since the age of 17. Her latest work, “Making Our Community Our Classroom,” was featured in the Bergen Record and Secaucus Reporter last year. The Secaucus Municipal Government Center features some of her work in their permanent collection. For the past 10 years, Melissa has been educating children in New Jersey where she lives with her husband and their three dogs. Melissa’s work includes public and private murals, large-scale oil and acrylic paintings and ceramics.


1516-ArtStrings-Violin3-sm.jpgViolin 3: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Artist: Donna DeBellis
Email: [email protected]
Winner: Florence Jennes, Teaneck

“The ‘Wedding March’ is a composition familiar to every bride or wedding attendee. I was inspired by the delicate feminine assemblage of the violin; various mediums were used to accessorize the piece with a classic elegance. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is about love and ultimately marriage, therefore, my vision was to focus on the wedding theme. Lace, pearls and a bit of dazzle beautifully adorn the violin, including the back of the piece."

Donna DeBellis earned a graduate degree at Seton Hall University and manages a prestigious orthopedic practice. She has a passion for transforming damaged or discarded stringed instruments into art. Her art has been displayed in solo exhibits in Kansas City, MO, and commissioned for private collectors.

1516-ArtStrings-Violin4-sm.jpgVIOLIN 4: Mad Men

Artist: Jeri Greenberg
Email: [email protected]
Winner: Leslie Smith, Bridgewater

“I was thrilled to get the music of the 60s theme, as I am a child of the sixties, still singing the music and missing the passion of the 60s, no matter what side of the political fence one was on. To that end, I chose, of course, the Mad Men logo, complete with high heels and martinis, to anchor my violin. I included mod gals dancing, British Invasion groups, peace signs, smiley faces and lots of hearts because “All You Need Is Love.” The 60s was a time of turbulence, but through the music, we all came together.”

After many years as a fashion designer, illustrator and advertiser, Jeri Greenberg chose to devote herself full-time to painting. “Pastels are a joy, and my love of pastels lets me enjoy painting landscapes and still lifes, as well as to continue doing figurative and commissioned painting.” Greenberg also teaches classes and workshop in both landscape and still-life pastel painting in New Jersey and the surrounding tri-state area. She has been juried into many prestigious art show such as the International Association of Pastel Societies Shows (IAPS) and the Enduring Brilliance Annual Juried PSA Show in New York City.

1516-ArtStrings-Violin5-sm.jpgViolin 5: Handel’s Messiah

Artist: Jane Rocca Hecht
Email: [email protected]
Winner: Diane Grohn, Morris Plains

“Handel’s Messiah premiered prior to Easter, April 13, 1742, in Dublin, Ireland. A Christmas theme, on the front panel of the violin, includes a dark sky with angels viewing the nativity. Three strings of clear and gold beads represent heavenly light streaming to earth. The red string, a traditional Christmas color, foretells the Messiah’s death. An Easter theme, on the back panel, includes a bright sunrise shining on ancient Jerusalem in the aftermath of Good Friday. Blood and water flowing from what had been the Messiah’s cross pass by an angel viewing the empty tomb. This symbolizes the positive effects of the redemptive sacrifice on the earthly and heavenly realms. Chinese ink and watercolor paintings on rice paper were decoupaged onto the violin after it was painted and varnished.”

Jane Rocca Hecht, a native of New Jersey, holds a BA from Rowan University. She was a special education teacher from 1967–72. From 1995–2010, Hecht studied the classics, medieval studies, art history, European history and Chinese studies at Drew University, as well as life drawing and artistic anatomy at the New Jersey Visual Arts Center and the duCret School of Art. For the last fifteen years, Hecht has studied Chinese brush painting with Hsu Dan, Diana Kung and Mrs. Nu. Her paintings have been exhibited at the Visual Arts Center, duCret School of Art, Swain Gallery, Watchung Arts Center, Morris County Library, Bernardsville Library and Westfield Library, and have won numerous watercolor awards. Ms. Hecht is a member of the Westfield Sketch Group. Her note cards are sold by the Dominican Nuns of Summit in The Cloister Shoppe at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit.

1516-ArtStrings-Violin7-sm.jpgViolin 7: West Side Story

Artist: Daniel Pompeo Jr.
Email: [email protected]
Winner: Anita Siegel, Westfield

“The inspiration to paint West Side Story came from growing up in New York City on the Lower East Side and my love for Latin music. My playground setting consisted of tenement houses surrounded by tall buildings. Everyday after school, as I would play, there sometimes would be fighting between gangs from different neighborhoods. On warm nights, we would sit out on our fire escapes to cool off. As an artist growing up in that type of environment, I was able to incorporate the memories of my childhood with their similarities to West Side Story when painting the violin.”  

Daniel Pompeo attended Pratt Institute and is a graduate in graphic design from Parsons School of Design. A native New Yorker, Dan now resides in Manalapan, NJ. A majority of his wood work consists of hand-carved “Old World” Santas, as well as ducks, roosters, antique cars, animal plaques and non-holiday related items, using bass and pine wood. When not working with wood, Dan focuses on painting works consisting of landscapes, still life and abstract animal portraits and cars. He uses mixed media such as pastels, acrylics, and watercolors on canvas. He composes his pieces with the use of everyday objects, experiences and sounds that are encountered throughout the day.

1516-ArtStrings-Violin8-sm.jpgViolin 8: Symphonie Fantastique

Artist: Linnea Tober
E-mail: [email protected]
Winner: David Isralowitz, Rutherford

“I have always been interested in portraying powerful, mysterious and whimsical women. I began my professional career as a mixed-media painter, focusing mainly on fantasy (goddesses, mermaids, faries, etc). Naturally, I was drawn to portray the sabbath. This piece really brought me back to my artistic roots, and I am very grateful for the opportunity. Autumn is my favorite time of year and it was September/October while I was working on this design. I was very much in tune with the seasonal changes and witches in general. I believe very much in the Wiccan ways, mainly in following the pace of nature. This was the perfect time of year to have chosen this subject matter, close to the magic of Halloween. Overall, I was thinking about the word ‘transformation’ while creating this piece. Working on the wood surface of the violin challenged me to be creative and experiment with various materials, mediums and ideas. I really strived to fill the instrument with my energy and vision, not just make something “pretty.” I want the viewer’s curiosity to be piqued. This is always my goal no matter what medium I am creating in. That is the most important job of the artist.”

While she still works with paint and mixed-media, Linnea Tober’s work consists mainly of photography, focusing specifically on nature and digital photographic abstractions. Since she is trained as a painter first and foremost, her main concern when photographing is the arrangement of colors which allows her to create her unique, flowing, organic and vibrant “nature photographic abstractions.” Tober feels it is critical to give back to the community and has been involved in a variety of socially engaged projects supporting causes that include women’s cancer education, celiac disease awareness, support for female drug addicts, breast cancer research and awareness and Hurricane Sandy assistance. She has exhibited extensively throughout the country in prestigious juried shows for the past 12 years, most notably The Peace Project (which displayed in Gallery 9, Los Angeles, CA), the Meridian Gallery in San Diego, CA, and Max Lang Gallery in New York, NY.

1516-ArtStrings-Violin9-sm.jpgViolin 9: Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony

Artist: Danny Turitz
Email: [email protected]
Winner: Jeff Slepoi, Mountainside

“I was drawn to  Dvořák’s  Symphony No. 9, ‘From the New World,’ as inspiration for my painted violin. The painting references the composition’s inspiration: an awe and splendor of the vast American west and it’s  bigness and diversity of landscape vs. the everydayness of Americans. I heard in the the piece a cacophony of both high and low, the formal and the informal. In response, I’ve chosen to represent the beauty of ordinariness using the image of painted doughnuts against the formality of the instrument itself, referencing perhaps the rigor it takes to play a violin well. The stacked donuts on the front and  the lone bitten one on the back are a trope for how the formal and the quotidian are inseparable.” 

Daniel Turitz graduated in Fine Arts from Philadelphia College of Art in 1973. He is presently the founder and director of Artlab, an art school for children in Westfield, NJ, serving the communities of Union County since 1990. His work is most recently being displayed at Front art space on Chambers Street in New York City.

1516-ArtStrings-Violin10-sm.jpgViolin 10: Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony

Artist: Jennifer Williams
Email: [email protected]
Winner: Jane Griffinger, Basking Ridge

“Sergei Rachmaninoff was a creative composer whose works extended into and beyond the upheaval and turmoil of the Russian Revolution, leaving us with the impression that he pursued efforts to express the richness of his culture through his music. The metal work on the violin, replicating flowers of the time, is inspired by the Silver Age of literature which ended after the Revolution. The beading represents the wealth and generosity of his aristocratic family that enabled him to study music. The back of the violin portrays the wooded serenity of his summer home, Ivanovka, where Rachmaninoff found the peace and beauty inspiring for his music.”

Jennifer Williams has studied in a variety of settings along with formal instruction at SUNY Brockport, Hudson Valley Community College, Russell Sage College and Hofstra University. She currently works in pastels and acrylics but continuously experiments in mixed media materials. She most recently has a collection of her works in pastels and acrylics on display in Mara’s Cafe & Bakery in Denville. She has exhibited her artwork at Giralda Music & Arts Festival as well as MPAC Art Upstairs Exhibit in Morristown. Williams has assisted in art programs for local school groups and art camps.