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Tim Kelly, 37, an artist and owner of CreativeSeven, a design boutique specializing in branding, creative development and production management, recently quoted Deepak Chopra when describing the importance of the Puzzle Art Project currently underway and on display at Surf Taco, in Belmar.
“There are no extra pieces in the universe,” he said, quoting the acclaimed author. “Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”
Mr. Kelly is also an art instructor for Art is Good, a series of beginner art classes offered by The David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center located at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch. The classes are geared towards children and teens whose parents or immediate family members have either been diagnosed with, or have passed away from, a brain tumor.
Mr. Kelly believes that art is an essential part of everyday life, an outlet for self expression which should not be overlooked at any cost.
Mr. Kelly also believes that those in government who are reducing endowments to the arts because they deem the arts to be non-essential need only walk through Surf Taco and glimpse one of the puzzle pieces on display to witness the innate power of one voice depicted in the scribblings of a Sharpie marker or the flick of a paint brush.
The Puzzle Art Project, which started out as a puzzle installation and collaborative project during the 2009 Teen Arts Festival at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, has since become a collaborative jigsaw puzzle art project, in which local children and adults, eager to make their voices heard through art, design oversized puzzle pieces which then interconnect to form a jigsaw mural of larger-than-life proportions.
Mr. Kelly and Sandy Taylor, Monmouth County Arts Council [MCAC] member, first came up with the idea for the first installation which was featured at Brookdale Community College.
Mr. Kelly decided to continue the project at Surf Taco, where he teachers Art is Good courses to local children. With the help of the Belmar Arts Council, members of the MCAC, and volunteers from the Art is Good program, Mr. Kelly organized the first Puzzle Art Project workshop last Thursday evening, in which artists, both novice and accomplished, young and old, designed puzzle pieces for the project at Belmar’s Surf Taco location.
Surf Taco and the MCAC are now co-sponsoring the project, which Mr. Kelly hopes will only grow in grandeur as the summer season gets underway.
Over 100 puzzle pieces were on hand for artists to choose from last Thursday evening, along with essential art supplies, such as paints and brushes.
A small donation of $10 was required to participate, of which $5 went to benefit the David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center and the remaining $5 went to continuing the puzzle project and the purchasing of art supplies.
The workshop raised $150 for the David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center, Mr. Kelly said, adding that last Thursday was the first workshop in a series of workshops to raise funds for the center and continue the project.
A second workshop will be held at Surf Taco, in Belmar, on Sunday, July 26, from 4 to 7 p.m. Puzzle pieces will be handed out on a first come, first served basis.
Those interested in adding their voice to the project can e-mail Mr. Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.surftaco.com or www.puzzleartproject.com.
Those who wish to design a puzzle piece but choose not to attend the workshop can request a puzzle piece at the counter of Belmar’s Surf Taco branch. The pieces must be returned and will be put on display in the jigsaw puzzle the following week.
Mr. Kelly stressed that there are absolutely “zero rules” when designing a puzzle piece, with the exception that the pieces not be made too heavy to hang.
Mr. Kelly shared one additional piece of advice, “Don’t just make something. Make something meaningful to you.”
Mr. Kelly thanked Ms. Taylor, with whom he came up with the Puzzle Art Project idea; Rob Nagel, owner of Surf Taco, Belmar, and Chris Quinlivan, manager of Surf Taco, Belmar, for all of their support with the Puzzle Art Project and the Art is Good program; and Jessie Chism, artist assistant and educator, whom Mr. Kelly stated has done a “tremendous amount of work” on the Puzzle Art Project; and members of the Belmar Arts Council, for their continued encouragement and support.
By Kelly Skellinger
I am a Special Education Teacher with New York City Department of Education, serving students in District 75 with behavior and emotional disabilities in grades 6 through 8. As a teacher of this population, my goal everyday is to focus on my students abilities without including the “dis.” Working with this population is quite difficult on a daily basis, as the students are on different levels with different personalities and specific demands. I know my students very well and it is a trying task to keep them on track, producing successful pieces of work and feeling proud of themselves.
Fortunately, 4 years ago I stumbled upon Tim Kelly and it turned out to be a blessing. My students had a very rewarding experience with Mr. Kelly and his assistants, that left a wonderful and lasting impression on them, as well as our staff.
I first contacted Tim Kelly out of curiosity, because of his creative “puzzling” website. It seemed like an unattainable project for my students. I honestly had my doubts about working with him, thinking I would just borrow some of his ideas and create something similar on my own. It is sometimes difficult to meet the individualized needs of my students, I felt he probably wouldn’t be able to. Through our first conversation, I was immediately captured by Tim’s demeanor and kind nature. Right away I knew this could be a possibility for my students. I didn’t even have to get into detail about the specific needs of my students as Mr. Kelly assured me that he would engage each and every student through this project. Well, to my surprise he did!
Mr. Kelly is a warm spirit. Our experiences with him have always been professional, as well as exciting, educational, interesting, productive and simply fun for all. The work my students created with him seemed to tell a story. Some of my students are introverted/non-verbal and some are (inappropriately) extremely verbal. Mr. Kelly surprisingly met each and every child’s needs in a professional manner without my assistance or background knowledge.
One of my students, Sal, has Asperger’s Syndrome and I knew he wasn’t going to do anything, but had him join us for the social interaction. Tim & Dave of the Puzzle Team sat with Sal and within 10 minutes he had a paintbrush in his hand and was actively engaged. I wanted to ask Mr. Kelly right then and there, “what did you say/do to him?” but I couldn’t, as he was accommodating and inspiring a group of 25+ students. Not to mention the fact that I lost numerous staff members because they wanted to create their own puzzle pieces.
Not long after his understanding of Sal’s needs, I found Mr. Kelly sitting with another student. Danny has behavioral issues and is usually defiant. He does not like to add color to any of his work and is basically cut and dry. Yet, Danny had intentions to participate this day. He was prepared and planned on creating a puzzle in the shape of a heart with a piece missing. Unfortunately, when the atmosphere changed, Danny shut down. Working in a larger environment, not in his classroom of 8 classmates, with so many people around he withdrew. I believe he was afraid to express himself. I made numerous attempts to inspire him. I have a wonderful bond with Danny, but I could not seem to convince or even bribe him with an incentive. No longer than 5 minutes went by when Mr. Kelly did it again. He had Danny smiling and creating his beautiful creative heart, adding color with the missing piece that closed the gap in the heart making it a “Happy Heart”. This is what these kids need!
Tim Kelly is an inspiration. He went beyond creating art with my students. He encouraged these young adults to not only create something, but to create something meaningful to them. This was done successfully while meeting the many needs of my students, as well as State Standards. I have been in education over 15 years and have had countless interactions with Art Educators and trip facilitators from local museums, including renowned Museums, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art. I can honestly say that my students have never been more actively engaged and proud of their work as they were working with Mr. Kelly and the Puzzle Team.
Rhonda Tasca, Special Education Teacher, R025 South Richmond IS/HS
Imagine an art collaboration that defies ageism. With pieces from New York to the Czech Republic, peppered with brushstrokes and collages, the installation stands at a whopping 9-by-1,250 feet.
‘Tis the brainchild of artist Tim Kelly, who coordinates and maintains the Puzzle Installation & Collaborative Project. The task is simple. With a ten dollar donation, participants receive art supplies and a 24-by-24 inch blank canvas to decorate and emote as they please. The result? Inspirational. The rules? Zero! “All we ask is that you make your puzzle piece meaningful to you,” instructs Kelly.
How It All Started
Along with artists Sandy Taylor and Marie Maber, Kelly’s passion project was born at the Monmouth County Arts Festival in 2009. Taking inspiration from the Deepak Chopra quote—“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle (of life),”—the creative team settled on a jigsaw creation.
“We continue to grow every day,” expresses Kelly who has since worked with schools, art groups, individual artists, and organizations across the country (and the world). This juggernaut of a jigsaw now houses 4,000 pieces. With hopes to reach 5,000, Kelly is scouting venues for a NYC installation that will be able to accommodate that volume of art. “It will be a historic exhibition that will help prove that art is an essential form of expression that cannot be denied,” states Kelly.
In a culture where economic woes are taking their toll on schools and art programs have taken the hit, the Puzzle Project comes to the rescue at a much-needed moment. Kelly sums it up perfectly: “Kids should never be deprived of their creative outlet. It’s too important at this stage of their lives to be creative thinkers.”
How To Get Involved
What better season than the summer to exercise that imaginative muscle? From a little girl creating a piece with the self-loving theme of “be yourself” to a teenager focusing on “I’m different, get use to it,” the Puzzle Project boasts a simple message that can be fun for the whole family.
At the “Art is Good” workshops, come sit on a comfy blanket and surround yourself with hundreds of puzzle pieces while you create your own masterpiece.
CAN’T MISS HAPPENINGS:
• A do-it-yourself puzzle workshop at Art Connects New York (491 Broadway, 5th floor) on Tuesday, July 19 from 6-9pm.
• Groups or schools interested in setting up a workshop or purchasing puzzle pieces should check Kelly’s website to get in contact with him.
• 700 pieces are on display until July 27 at Art Connects New York. You can also purchase a puzzle piece there.
• Over 2,000 pieces are also on display at the Middletown Township Arts Center in New Jersey. Those interested can purchase pieces.
• To see some of the powerful puzzle pieces, click here.
Posted By: Melanie Dostis, July 12, 2011
Middleton Patch: Puzzled About Art, Life and Passion at Middletown Arts Center Arts Center hosts collaborative puzzle project; people invited to craft, observe
Artist Tim Kelly believes that art is what makes life good for him and for others — so good that it even makes his heart palpitate.
“In fact, all things related to art do; old art, new art, the appreciation of art, questions about art, answers about art, events related to art, clouds that form art and just about anything else with any connection to art,” he said. “Art is good. That is something I know.”
And through July at the Middletown Arts Center, next to the train station on Church Street, you can get glimpse of that very large-scale, unifying artsy feeling that has been transformed into a giant puzzle.
It’s Kelly’s way of spreading the “art is good” word across the land through the collaborative effort between Puzzle Installation and Collaborative Project and his Art is Good workshops.
The traveling, participatory project materializes through the crafting and interlocking of thousands of 24 by 24-foot dry mount foam pieces. At its stop in Middletown, Kelly hopes the puzzle will slowly expand to cover most, if not all, of the walls of the center, conveying his universal message.
That message was borne out of his lifetime love of art and what he sees as its transformative, healing powers.
Kelly has taught his Art is Good workshops in New York and New Jersey. According to him, there have been over 100 of those workshops since the sister to the Puzzle Project was founded in 2008.
His particular passion for it is derived from his belief that art is essential to life. “The impact of the installation is testament to the fact that art is a powerful form of expression that cannot be denied,” he said.
The idea for the collaborative project was simple yet far-reaching and unifying – to create thousands of the large blank foam-core puzzle pieces from people all over the nation (even world) supporting varying causes or just plain expressing themselves or paying homage to a particular type of art or artist.
The individual identities of pieces that end up interlocked symbolize putting the pieces of life, reason, challenges and passion together. The pieces are individually decorated and limited only by the artistic skill of each puzzle piece creator. Some are painted. Some are drawn. Others are collaged. Each has its own story.
The one thing that is repetitive is the shape, simple and precise so that they all fit together, but the goal of the project is for each piece to say something personally meaningful, Kelly said.
Giant puzzle pieces have already been made in over 15 states, four countries, and on three continents. They have been created by several schools, community arts groups, organizations like the YMCA, Americorp, hospitals and support groups like the Ocean County Brain Tumor Support Group.
Kelly’s project cohort, Marie Maber, associate professor in the Art Department at Brookdale Community College, said the genesis of the Puzzle Project came from a brainstorming session between Sandy Taylor, director of Arts Education at the Monmouth County Arts Council, Kelly and herself. Maber was coordinator of Brookdale’s Center for the Visual Arts (CVA) Gallery in the fall of 2008, when the three art advocates met and came up with their plan.
They discussed what could be done to install works of art made by teens from 18 area high schools so that they would all come together as a unified piece.
“They were both looking at me and gesturing with their hands to illustrate all of those works coming together in the Gallery, so I suggested that the students each make their artworks on supports that were shaped like standard puzzle pieces, only larger.
“Lightbulbs went off … It was one of those classic ‘aha’ moments. The Puzzle Project was born,” she said, adding that “it was the result of a true, three-way collaboration between Tim, Sandy, and myself.”
Maber explained that idea worked so well that the three-way collaboration led to a successful Teen Arts Festival in the spring of 2009.
“The fact that the project continues above and beyond the 2009 Teen Arts Festival is a testament to the energy and drive of Tim Kelly and the support of all of the agencies like the county Arts Council and businesses like Surf Taco (in Belmar) that have supported his efforts to date,” she said.
According to Kelly, who is a resident artist at SurfTaco, it didn’t take long for Rob Nagel, SurfTaco’s founder, to see the value in the project.
“Rob offered to pay for the materials and generously offered SurfTaco’s space for any preparation or project needs,” Kelly said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Several artists and volunteers from the Belmar Arts Council showed up at SurfTaco one sunny weekend to help prep the puzzle materials. “They turned each eight-by-four-foot sheet of foam core (paid for by SurfTaco) into eight individual puzzle pieces then created approximately 800 copies for the Arts Festival installation.
After Brookdale, it was installed at SurfTaco on Main Street in Belmar.
Several sub-installations are currently being developed across the country and around the world.
“The School of Creative and Performing Arts in San Diego found us and made the project bi-coastal,” Kelly said. “In addition, the YMCA in Brooklyn started making puzzle pieces at several locations. Then Monmouth County Library System hosted Art is Good puzzle making workshops at all of their branches. Soon we were making puzzle pieces with organizations, supports groups and with random artists.”
Puzzle sub-installations are even being developed internationally at The Secondary School of Applied Arts in Kosice in Slovakia, The Shanghai Community International School in China and the Escola Xin Hua at Macau in Hong Kong. “They will all be reunited in NYC for an awesome group exhibition,” Kelly said. “We will then go then intergalactic.”
Kelly coordinates the puzzle installation and has accepted the responsibility for growing, maintaining, sustaining and promoting the project in the future.
“Puzzle project participants immediately become contributing artists in a traveling group exhibition. So if you make your own piece, you would have that going for you on your artistic resume,” Kelly said, adding, “We hope to show the Puzzle installation in NYC in 2011-2012 and to exhibit the installation internationally by 2012-2013.
“”The best is yet to come,” he said. “Oprah is going to love this project.”
Have you made your puzzle piece? If not, make the time to get over to the Middletown Arts Center through April. The collaboration will continue to grow every time someone makes a puzzle piece. Puzzle making workshops will be held on Feb. 26, March 19 and April 19 at the Arts Center.
The cost to craft a puzzle piece on your own is $10 and attendance at a workshop to craft pieces costs $20 and includes materials and Kelly’s instruction and support. The donations go to support art initiatives at Middletown Arts Center and will also provide funding for Camp Jinka, which is a free camp at MAC provided to kids and teens from the brain tumor support community.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. –When it’s completed, it will be taller than a giant and wider than a tugboat, and will include tidbits of thousands of people’s lives.
It will be a colossal puzzle with thousands of segments, each of which will be designed by people from across the world, and it will be on display this time next year somewhere in New York City.
The latest additions to the giant jigsaw were 50 pieces designed Wednesday by students from South Richmond High School, Pleasant Plains, and Bernstein Intermediate School, Huguenot.
The project is the brainchild of Tim Kelly, an artist who wanted to create something massive to show why art shouldn’t be minimalized.
“The goal is just to really blow people’s minds,” Kelly said. “I just want people to be able to get to it and see that art’s as important as anything in your life. It will leave no dispute that art is valuable and a form of expression that can be utilized by many people.”
So far, Kelly has collected 4,000 puzzle pieces, each a 24 inch-by-24 inch foam board. They have come from people in 14 states and four countries.
Not all of the project participants are schools; some are individuals who have reached out to him through www.timkellyartist.com, while others are groups like Compassionate Friends, which comprises parents dealing with the loss of a child.
The project was received with resounding enthusiasm at South Richmond High School and Bernstein Intermediate, where students — some from an art class, but most with special needs — thought about what means the most to them in life and how to express it on paper. The get-together, at Bernstein Intermediate, was organized by South Richmond High School teacher Rhonda Tasca.
“They had a great time laughing and coming up with ideas,” Kelly said. “The project is so great because it runs the gamut from age to subject, from love to peace to Pokemon. You can literally cover everything.”
In one case, he said a student with special needs had his head in his hands and looked extremely frustrated trying to get started on his project. One of the artists grabbed a blank puzzle piece, plopped down across from him and began drawing.
Before they knew it, the student was engaged, asking questions and designing his own piece.
Published by SI LIve: Friday, November 05, 2010
photo: Staten Island Advance/Irving Silverstein
Date: October 18, 2010 2:20 PM
Subject: just a question
Can you recommend some places that people often go to alone? I hate the pack mentality of going to bars in droves, or needing a partner to dine with, so I’m looking for some ideas of places to go solo.
Let your inner Jackson Pollock run free by contributing to a massive art installation by Greenpoint- based artist Tim Kelly, titled Puzzle Project. It’s made of interlocking, individually designed pieces; pick up your own blank one from the Reaves Gallery (526 W 26th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves; 646-734-9072, timkellyartist.com; Thur–Sat, noon–6pm; $10), go wild with Crayolas, then return it. “There are no rules, just make it meaningful to you,” says Kelly. The entire thing—5,000 pieces—will be displayed next year.
I already told you about a great project called PaperJam at Figment NYC, which is happening this weekend on Governors Island. I want to introduce to you another amazing project called The Puzzle Project by an amazing Greenpointer named Tim Kelly.
The Puzzle Installation & Collaborative Project is a huge traveling group art exhibition that continues to grow. It originated at the Monmouth County Arts Council, but the project gained such popularity and momentum among art and community organizations, like our ownGreenpoint YMCA, and schools throughout the US and abroad that it’s become Tim’s full-time gig, which is completely self-funded. When you see the scale of this project you will wonder what fuels him.
When you meet Tim you will quickly understand it is his genuine love for art and his passion for sharing that love that gives him the energy to manage this huge endeavor.
After greeting me on his stoop with his two adorable kitties, Tim invited me inside and took me up to his attic where he showed me some of the 1000s of puzzle pieces he has amassed, all made by individuals from all corners of the country. Each unique piece he took out got him very excited. “Look at this one!” he would say as he pulled out one after another, “Oh this one is awesome!”
Tim gets great joy from encouraging people to make artwork. He even gets more excited when he talks about the entire project installed with over 5000 puzzles pieces connected along a giant wall, which is what he hopes for in a NYC exhibition this fall. Standing on top of one another, all those puzzle pieces are as tall as the Empire State Building.
He got choked up when he read a letter from the Navy Wives Club, who organized a puzzle workshop for patients at the Balboa Naval hospital who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress after returning from combat. Their faces and demeanors immediately brightened up when they began making artwork.
“When your kids everyone is an artist,” Tim said, “By the time they are soldiers they just don’t think they should be doing art. Then they do it, then they love it.”
The puzzle is a metaphor for the creative connection we share. “You can’t do it wrong,” Tim explains and, “the kids just go for it.” And when someone complains they aren’t an artists, Tim says it’s a collaboration in expression with “no rules, just make it meaningful.”
Tim even gave me a puzzle piece to complete. I don’t describe myself as an artist, but I have been working very hard. My art form is the To Do List. Holding the puzzle piece feels like holding an artists palate, and the beauty of this To Do list is it’s gigantic, so I can’t lose it. I’ve realized that Greenpointers is a place for continued creative expression and my art is that of discovery. My recent Walk of Inspiration is one take on this.
Tim Kelly’s tireless dedication to making art inviting and accessible to everyone is truly a great gift and we should be proud to have such a talented and giving Greenpointer in our community.
If you are on Governors Island this weekend for Figment NYC, make sure to stop by and make a puzzle piece. The Puzzle Project will also be part of the upcomingWilliamsburg Walks on the weekend of June 16-17th.
About Jen G
MANALAPAN — There’s something puzzling about the mural hanging in the front lobby of the Monmouth County Library Headquarters on Symmes Road. The colorful spectacle actually is a joint creation by participants at Puzzle Project workshops at county library branches in Shrewsbury, Hazlet, Howell, Marlboro, Wall, Allentown and Manalapan.
Hundreds of separate art and expressive works on 2-by-2-foot foam core puzzle pieces — including drawings, paintings, and poetry — were snapped together on March 10 by coordinator Tim Kelly. There’s no common theme, except the artists collaboratively “prove that art is essential to life,” Kelly said. “I tell participants as a guideline that each piece shouldn’t just say something, it should say something meaningful to you,” said Kelly, an artist and instructor. Kelly is a former Shore resident now living in New York City with an art studio in Brooklyn.
Visions and statements about peace and love are the most common themes, said Kelly, adding, “It’s funny how those themes have stayed prominent for practically forever. They never go away.”
One contribution consists of a gray canvas, a drawing of a flower, and the hand-printed lyrics of the song “Forgotten Children” by Tokio Hotel. “They can tell any story they want on the puzzle pieces,” Kelly said.
County library officials said Puzzle Project is part of expanded teen/young-adult programming being offered.
Monmouth County Public Relations Librarian Judi Tolchin said many library systems are making efforts to reconnect with young readers. The Monmouth system has a Teen Advisory Board that holds monthly meetings. Students serving as board members earn community service hours as they share ideas for teen programs.
“Teenagers are in transition. If we can keep them involved in their libraries, they will have an important resource to use as they are starting their careers and starting to go on with their futures,” Tolchin said.