2016 July Exhibition:
By: Phil Juska
Friday, July 8, 7pm - 8:30pm
Philadelphia artist Phil Juska brings his models of Ocean City landmarks, popular diners, and mini-golf courses to the Ocean City Arts Center July 1 through July 31. In addition, Juska has created an exact replica of Edward Hopper's New York City diner featured in the painting "Nighthawks". A "Meet the Artist" reception, free and open to the public, will be held Friday, July 8 from 7pm to 8:30pm. Most models will be for sale. They range in price from $1200 to $3500.
On display will be exact replicas of Ocean City's Ready's Restaurant, a longtime establishment on eighth street; Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard on the Ocean City Boardwalk; and several mini-golf courses. In addition, Edward Hopper's moody image of a New York City diner featured in his painting "Nighthawks" will be represented in miniature including the characters. Many other diners from around the country will be exhibited.
Juska's models are built from "scratch", meaning there are no kits or instructions involved. The primary materials are basswood and styrene plastic, both of which come in a variety of shapes and thickness, and can be cut using a razor or exacto knife. The models are in ½ inch scale, where a half-inch equals one foot. They range in size from 2ft. by 1 ft. to 1 ft. by 6 inches. There are many different sized models in between this range. Everything except the food and lighting is made by hand. Each piece takes about 4 months to complete. Prior to creating the model, Juska does days of research, when he is on-site photographing the subject of his work, measuring and eating lots of "diner" food. Then he spends many hours in hardware stores and craft shops looking for the right size washer or plastic bead or wooden button to be turned into counter stools, coffee pots, sugar containers and other accessories. As exact, detailed replicas of each real place, each model presents unique challenges. For example, the Harris Diner's chairs are made of 19 separate pieces of styrene plastic, plus the wooden seat. The chairs, alone, required 500 tiny pieces of styrene to be cut, sorted, glued and painted.
Juska is the former Dean of the Art Institute of Philadelphia and was the long-time Director of outreach and education for the Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia. A regular visitor to Ocean City for many years, Juska said, "I am excited to add several classic Ocean City institutions to my works for this exhibit."