CONTACT: Tom Plante, (908) 527-4746
Seb D’Elia, (908) 527-4419


Public Invited to Awards Ceremony & Exhibit
of Art by Union County Employees, May 6

UNION, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders will recognize local artists and present awards at a reception on Tuesday, May 6, at the Seventh Annual Exhibit and Contest for County of Union Employees and Their Relatives. The reception and awards ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Elizabethtown Gas Company, located at Liberty Hall Center, 1085 Morris Avenue in Union Township.

“Everyone has some artistic ability, but we don’t always have a way to show our work,” said Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski, liaison to the Union County Cultural and Heritage Programs Advisory Board. “We thank Elizabethtown Gas for hosting the reception and providing gallery space for Union County employees and their families to display their talent. We also thank the National Arts Program Foundation for funding the prize awards.”

Presented in partnership with the National Arts Program®, the exhibit offers County of Union employees and their families an opportunity to display their art work. The exhibit will be open weekdays from May 6 to June 2, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The Freeholders share the goal of the National Arts Program® to reach as many people as possible of all ages, offering them a chance to show their creations,” said Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “We invite the public to view this exceptional artwork.”

Three prominent artists and arts professionals are judging the show: Elisa Kessler-Caporale, Gail Holy and Ben Venezio.

Elisa Kessler-Caporale creates sculptural baskets and demonstrates basket weaving throughout the tri-state area. She teaches locally at County Teen Arts Programs, senior centers, after-school programs, the Morris and Newark Museums, and was a guest artist at the Discover Charter School in Newark. Ms. Kessler-Caporale has a B.A. in Art History from Western College for Women, Oxford, Ohio, and was a design assistant for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers after graduation. She was a volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and worked on children’s programs for their centennial year. Elisa exhibits in juried shows throughout the United States and recently won a sculpture prize at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit. She was awarded First Place for Professional Crafts in the Union County Senior Art Show and went on to win First Place in the State Senior Art Show in 2007.

Gail Holy received her M.Ed. in Art Education at the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, and studied painting and art history at Rutgers University. Ms. Holy taught studio art at the high school level for five years in New Jersey public schools. She currently teaches a variety of art education courses at Kean University in the Department of Fine Arts, and is a field supervisor who observes student art teachers in the classroom. Ms. Holy has had a number of careers in the arts field, including a position as a curatorial assistant for the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series at Douglass College, and as a Senior Director for the Universal Music Group in New York, where she managed the copyright division and licensed MCA copyrights for use in film, advertising, television, and video. Her recent work-in-progress is a series of artists’ books.

Ben Venezio has pursued the art of photography for more than 40 years through camera clubs and art association activities. He started in 1968 with the Union Camera Club and joined other clubs over the years, becoming president of the Cranford/Millburn Club and later president of the Camera Naturalist Club in Basking Ridge, named Best Camera Club in the Country in 2004 by Nature’s Best Magazine. Over the years he has won many awards, including top slide honors six times and runner-up three times from the New Jersey Federation of Camera Clubs. His photography has been written about many times in the Star-Ledger and other newspapers and his images have been shown in galleries throughout New Jersey and published in calendars and Nature’s Best Magazine. Ben was awarded a citation from NJFCC in 2000 for his years of work in judging, presenting photography programs and for his efforts in promoting photography.

The National Arts Program® currently runs 81 annual programs reaching 450 cities in 43 states. The program was conceived by Leonard E.B. Andrews, an art collector, publisher, business executive and journalist “for the encouragement and development of artistic expression.” The aim of the National Arts Program® is to provide an uninhibited opportunity for people to present their talent, at whatever level, in a free, public exhibition. The National Arts Program® is sponsored by The National Arts Program Foundation of Malvern, Pennsylvania. To learn more about the program, visit

Additional support for this event is provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, contact the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, 633 Pearl Street, Elizabeth NJ 07202. Telephone (908) 558-2550 or e-mail: NJ relay users dial 711.