Pledges for Universal Peace: Julia Rivera

Artists often create works reflecting their strong objections to profoundly troubling world events. Iconic case in point: Picasso’s Guernica, painted in 1937, blatantly revealed his anger and sorrow for Hitler’s unprovoked bombing that destroyed the politically inconsequential town of Guernica in Spain. Today, much artwork speaks to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the rejection of Roe v. Wade by many states, and the storming of the Capitol building on January 6th. Art can be powerful enough to move viewers’ concepts of the destruction perpetrated by people about whom Jesus reportedly said, “They know not what they do.” The art of Julia Rivera offers her viewers an intellectual and undeniable plea for the bad to stop trying to ruin the good.

We The People • 40” x 36” • Mixed Media

Be The Exception • 40” x 36” • Mixed Media











Our Breathing Is A Fragile Vessel 24” diameter • Mixed Media on Wood

Just Breathe • 24” diameter • Mixed Media on Wood











Green Country • 28” x 18” • Mixed Media on Canvas

Defeated on Principle • 24” x 18” • Mixed Media on Canvas











Don’t Tell People Your Plans 36” x 40” • Mixed Media on Canvas

Always Make Them Wonder 20” x 30” • Oil on Canvas











Basquiat • 11” x 10” • Oil on Canvas

It Is Not Our Difference 41” x 22” • Mixed Media on Wood











About the Artist

Born a Puerto Rican in the Bronx in 1965 and now a resident of Freehold, Julia Rivera says, “I have become a political artist… Our democracy is designed to speak the truth.” Through her staunch desire to portray endangered people, particularly women and children, Rivera’s heady message is balance, peace, and survival. Also an art restorer, she attended Escuela de Artes Plasticas in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Studio Arts College International in Florence, Italy, where she earned a master’s degree in 17th-century painting and restoration. One of her recent solo exhibitions, titled Intersectional, was featured at the DETOUR Gallery in Red Bank. Her paintings and sculptures are in numerous permanent collections, including in the United States, China, France, and Puerto Rico. Piece by piece, Rivera’s exceptionally riveting works inspire and combine beauty, perspective, and hope for important change.

—Tova Navarra


When the Art Goes Post Pop

Paul Bennett Hirsch’s Cultural Commentary

Pissarro, Monet, Cassatt and Degas are a few impressionist artists who rebelled against 19th-century academic art. In post-World War ll into the 1950s, Abstract Expressionism à la Pollock and de Kooning was sideswiped by Pop, or popular, art, with its mainstream images. Think, for example, Warhol’s soup cans, Lichtenstein’s comic-strip paintings, George Segal’s plaster-wrapped human figures. Thereafter, from the mid-1950s into the late ’70s and early ’80s, Pop art took hold. Think Keith Haring, and now Paul Bennett Hirsch, both of whom studied at The School of Visual Arts, NYC. Hirsch also holds a degree in fine arts and graphic design. Be of hyper vision when you see Hirsch’s works, bold and subtle, keenly observant, unique in language and energy, akin to the intricacy of the way a neurosurgeon navigates a brain.

Untitled (Scissor) (1989) 48” x 48” Acrylic Denim on Canvas Paul Bennett Hirsch #PBH

Untitled (Dictionary) • (1989) 74” x 45” Multipage laser enlargement, Paper, Acrylic, Canvas Paul Bennett Hirsch #PBH

Untitled (couple seahorse compass) (1991) 48” x 48” Acrylic on masonite Paul Bennett Hirsch #PBH

Factory Workers • (1992) 40” X 30” Ink, Uni Ball Metallic Paint on Board Paul Bennett Hirsch #PBH

Untitled (House Car Saw Phone) • (1991) 44” x 22 1/2” Lithograph printed 5 colors, Somerset textured white 300g. in an edition of 22, Rutgers University Press Center for Innovative Print Making. Paul Bennett Hirsch #PBH

Untitled (2000 Bomb Roche Pre 9-11 / Diary Premonition) (1990) 7’x5′ Multipage Laser Enlargement, Paper, Acrylic, Canvas Paul Bennett Hirsch #PBH

Untitled (There’s A Sister At The Supper) (1992) 48” x 48” Acrylic Krylon on Canvas Paul Bennett Hirsch #PBH

Untitled (Fertilization) • (1989) 70 x 50” mixed media painting on canvas Paul Bennett Hirsch #PBH


A long time New Jersey resident who now lives across the country in Washington, Pop artist Paul Bennett Hirsch knows that any and all styles of art can co-exist. Hirsch has created a huge, impressive body of work. “I began as a photo realist,” he says, “then I morphed into a neo-expressionist. Now I’ve embraced the moniker of creative survivalist.” His art includes works on canvas and paper, objects, plates, screens, steel sculptures, cones (of knowledge), clothing and textiles, flora and fauna, plastic proto paintings, and many more mediums…one might say “Picasso-esque,” for his art appears on just about anything but a fish skeleton. In addition to Hirsch’s museum exhibitions and corporate collections, he is working on a 2023 solo exhibition at the prestigious Ryan James Fine Arts gallery in Kirkland, WA. Search every inch of his work for the many-splendored symbols, letters, words and numbers within his dominant images at or check out his Facebook page (paul.b.hirsch).

—Tova Navarra

Willie Cole: Object Lesson


From Ordinary to Extraordinary

With a bicycle seat and handlebars left on the side of a road, Picasso created “Head of a Bull,” famous icon of the artform Objets Trouvés—found objects. French-American artist Marcel Duchamp took a urinal, titled it “Fountain,” signed it, eh voilà!, another well-known icon of trouvé art. Ubiquitous things, such as shoes and plastic bottles, caught the poetic vision of artist Willie Cole. Put his two-dimensional works in the mix and observe the art made with a steam iron. And herein learn even more about the phenomenon called Artistic Seeing.


Portrait from the Heels Over Head series

Portrait from the Heels Over Head series


About the Artist

Born in 1955 in Somerville, Willie Cole, now living in the Morris County town of Mine Hill, NJ, infuses dynamism in ordinary objects built as African and other modern references. His sculptures, paintings and prints have been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art and many other venues. A sculpture is in the Afrofuturist Period Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His large-scale sculptures will be installed in the Kansas City International Airport in 2023. “My show at the Met’s Mezzanine gallery,” says Cole, “focuses on my print work with the steam iron. It’s a small show but a welcomed one.” Of course, you’ll never look at steam irons, plastic bottles, or shoes the same way again.

—Tova Navarra

Villo Varga: Messages from the Heart

A change of environment can transform the world of a master painter, photographer and art conservator. Villo Varga revealed her penchant for messages all over New York City. Born in Budapest, Hungary she defected in 1983, having garnered hefty experience, studying with Professor Erno Fischer at the Academy of Fine Arts and the Museum Restorers’ Methodology Center, working as conservator of the Hungarian National Gallery, and working as professional photographer. But in America, her artwork turned to ever-changing urban “messages” and images not to be lost forever.



Villo Varga, of Passaic, NJ, makes New York cityscapes that force one to look very closely to see they’re actually paintings. “I’ve been aiming to mirror my contemporary views,” says Villo, who has exhibited at the Salmagundi Club, the Allied Artists of America, and other prestigious venues. She says she’s “very much inspired” by the beat of metropolitan life’s “telltale signs.” Her awesome work brings to mind Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, but on canvas and in photographs. Who knew?
—Tova Navarra