OCEAN CITY, N.J. - Some artists are influenced by Pop Art. Others, such as sculptor Maddelinde Wiker, 20, are influenced by Pop Pop's art.
In this case, Pop Pop is Lance Balderson, 73, a well-regarded abstract painter whose work hangs in the Woodmere Art Museum, Columbia University School of Law, and the Curtis Institute of Music. One painting, Tryst, has been displayed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
But beginning this week, the art of Balderson and his granddaughter bookend a distinctive exhibit at the Ocean City Arts Center.
The 27-piece show titled "Layers - Three Generations" includes Balderson's boldly colored paintings, his daughter Jody Balderson Wiker's brooding black-and-white prints, and his granddaughter's inventive and whimsical fiber sculptures.
The aesthetic links between Balderson and granddaughter are immediately apparent: They share an exuberance of subject and palette. His daughter's black-and-white prints - with titles such as Masked, Caught, Tangled and Hollow - are in stark contrast.
On display collectively, the family's art is both distinct and overlapping: Balderson's colors uncannily refer back to Maddelinde Wiker's dyed strips of fabric; the misshapen heart (or land mass) shapes of Wiker's chicken wire-rigged pieces such as Dip Dye Weave echo her mother's landscape-inspired collagraph prints, a technique that involves collage, painting, and building the plate up with materials.
It all comes together winningly in a show that opens this week with a Friday artist's reception from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the center, 1735 Simpson Ave.
"Just to see it all together," said Jody Balderson Wiker, of Medford Lakes. "This is who we are."
"It's cohesive without stepping on each other's toes," said Maddelinde Wiker, a Penn State sophomore who says growing up around her grandfather's paintings, as well as her mother's elaborate print-making techniques and abundance of materials, left an indelible mark - "Just to see the choices my Pop Pop makes, his color palettes, shapes and forms."
Balderson and his daughter agree that Wiker's sculptures - which include a bonnet-shaped wall hanging made of old receipts titled Disposable Income, a piece called The Power of a Word made from a book with a hole drilled into it and a spider/flower-like creature fashioned from tiny strips of its pages, and a verite wood-and-plaster replica of a cardboard packing box addressed to herself, hastily taped shut, smashed in, and titled Return to Sender - may command the attention.
"I told my daughter that I think Maddey's going to steal the limelight of this show," Balderson said. He may be right, but, hey, what else would a grandfather say?
For Balderson, having his family's artwork hanging together represents the triumph of a long artistic and personal journey that began with just the opposite: a family separation.
Four decades ago, he left Montgomery County to become a full-time artist at the Jersey Shore.
"I left my job, my company car, my wife, my two kids," said Balderson, a former architect and Abington town planner. "I started over as an artist."
Eventually, his daughter Jody came to live with him, graduating from Mainland Regional High School, and later, as her father did, from Penn State.
Balderson's art career flourished. His eye-popping abstractions - some with architectural underpinnings, others with bursts of the natural world , others more purely abstractions - attracted notice, in particular from his friend H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, the philanthropist and collector who owns The Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com. They met over martinis before an Abington planning meeting decades ago, and Lenfest has become his great supporter.
"Lance is like a Renaissance painter in the fact that he has a patron," says Jack Devine, president of the board of the Ocean City Arts Center.
Balderson's painting Tryst is a promised gift from Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where for three months in 2009 it hung in the American wing next to a work by Andrew Wyeth.
Tryst is now back in the Lenfests' apartment, where it was first noticed by Museum of Art curator Michael Taylor. Other Balderson works hang in the Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy, and the city halls of Atlantic City and Ocean City.
At the Arts Center, Balderson tended to the more mundane side of the show - exchanging lightbulbs to show his paintings better, debating whether to bring in a poinsettia to set beneath two of his daughter's prints. He is partial to a splash of red no matter what the context - and on this day his empathetic granddaughter, otherwise dressed in black, wore bright red flats.
Though the show displays their intuitive connections, Maddelinde Wiker's edgy box piece still required explaining. She has had to repeatedly tell why the replica of a smashed package is her most prized work in the show, not something left out by the staff, as her grandfather thought initially. Return to Sender slyly contains a personal diary she wrote, then ripped to pieces and placed inside.
It was Jody Wiker who came up with the title for the show. "Dad layers with his color, I layer with materials on the plate in print making, Maddey layers with materials in three dimensions," she said.
Maddey went deeper: "We're like layers of each other," she said.