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Lost Landmarks

Two iconic Vineland sites are part of a gallery exhibit at Rowan University Art Gallery & Museum.

© Ellen Harvey, Vineland Speedway, 24 x 18”, 2023, Monochrome acrylic with oil glazes on wood panels. Photo credit: Etienne Frossard
by Mickey Brandt
Ellen Harvey in studio. Photo: Etienne Frossard
Ellen Harvey in studio. Photo: Etienne Frossard

Vineland’s original Palace of Depression, along with the old Vineland Speedway, are two of the newest paintings in “The Disappointed Tourist,” an ongoing project of 300 paintings of lost sites curated and painted by Brooklyn artist Ellen Harvey. The exhibit is now on display at the Rowan University Art Gallery & Museum in Glassboro.

The gallery exhibit opened last week and the opening reception and artist talk is set for Wednesday, January 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. The artist talk begins at 5:30.

Harvey is a British-born conceptual artist whose work ranges from large-scale public artworks and immersive installations to guerrilla street art.

“The Disappointed Tourist” has formed the centerpiece of a traveling retrospective that has been exhibited at the Butler Gallery (Ireland), Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art (Poland), Museum der Moderne Salzburg (Austria) and Turner Contemporary (UK). The exhibition at Turner Contemporary was selected by Frieze as one of the five best institutional shows in the UK in 2021.

All the paintings in the display are of interesting places that no longer exist, done in vintage postcard style and suggested by members of the public. Each has a name and date on it: The dates are when those places were destroyed.

The Rowan Gallery and its partner organizations disseminated a call for suggestions throughout the Glassboro community and received more than 40 ideas for appropriate now-nonexistent places, of which Harvey selected and painted nine that have been added to this new iteration of the installation. Along with the Palace of Depression and the Vineland Speedway, the others are Whitney Brother’s Glass Factory, the Salem Oak, Bay Point, Zee Orchards, Eighty Acres, Veterans Stadium, and grandparent’s backyard.

© Ellen Harvey, Palace of Depression, 24 x 18”, 2023, Monochrome acrylic with oil glazes on wood panels. Photo: Etienne Frossard
© Ellen Harvey, Palace of Depression, 24 x 18”, 2023, Monochrome acrylic with oil glazes on wood panels. Photo: Etienne Frossard

The Palace of Depression, dating from the 1930s, may be unique among Harvey’s subjects because a long-term rebuilding project is nearing completion that will replicate its original form.

According to WHYY, Gary Marino, 72, of Newfield was the person who suggested painting the Vineland Speedway because he has fond memories of going there with his father in the 1950s. The Speedway closed in 1967.

Harvey began working on “The Disappointed Tourist” at a time when many people felt divided and isolated and said the project gained momentum at the start of the pandemic.

“We live in a world that often feels as though it is vanishing before our eyes. Places we love disappear. Places we have hoped to visit cease to exist,” Harvey wrote about “The Disappointed Tourist.”

“The forces of war, time, ideology, greed, and natural disaster are constantly remaking places that we love but cannot control or save. ‘The Disappointed Tourist’ is inspired by the urge to repair what has been broken. It makes symbolic restitution, literally remaking lost sites, at the same time that it acknowledges the inadequacy of such restitution. It is inspired both by old postcards and by the tradition of tourist painting.”

“The Disappointed Tourist” collection includes submissions from 40 countries.

Harvey is still taking suggestions for her subjects. If you want to submit an idea, you can go to the project website, https://disappointedtourist.org, and write a short description of a specific location that’s no longer there and share why you believe it’s important and why you miss it.

The gallery is at 301 West High Street in Glassboro. Those who wish to attend the artist’s reception should RSVP by going to https://sites.rowan.edu/artgallery/

“The Disappointed Tourist” exhibit is open until March 9 and is free.