So what does a retired academic, a professor emeritus, do when the school bell no longer rings for her but her energy level is still as high as the sky?
Particularly, when she has been a dynamic instructor who always moved way beyond dull PowerPoint lists, leaving them in the dust, as she piqued the interest of her students, literally mobilizing their scientific knowledge?
If she’s Dr. Julie Fagan who taught biochemistry at Rutgers University for decades, she turns to her first love – art. The professor has forged a second career of buying and selling art at affordable prices. Not so much for its financial value but because she loves the pieces she purchases and wants to share their beauty.
A child of musicians, she hadn’t really been exposed to the visual arts, but when she finally was, it was an explosive experience, she said. That rainbow of color and energy grabbed her and continues to fascinate her.
She had that first startling, and telling, encounter with the magic of the visual arts when she was only 12. It was in Mexico City – a happening which would infuse the rest of her life with the lovely chaos of creativity.
“They had an outdoor arts festival every Saturday. It was so colorful, bold, so visually stimulating,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
That was just the beginning of a lifelong passion, a life of traveling the world in her spare time and collecting paintings, sculpture and statuary. Now, she has dug into her own artistic talents and created some of her own humorous, inventive and surprising art--a pink and white cow made of an old oil tank, for example.
Dr. Fagan definitely has “an eye for art” and that ranges from the primitive to the classical and all things in between. “I like modern art because it’s really similar to primitive,” she said. “I’m also interested in the human form.” She has an entire room filled with nude paintings.
Her handsome home at 440 Top Rock Trail in Haycock Township is chock full of art work – in every room, tumbling over sofas and tables, climbing the stairs. A life-sized statue of a baseball player perched in front of a window; a Stone-Age sculpture from the highlands of Papua New Guinea that is a haunting precursor of Brancusi’s famous “The Kiss,” showing the same emotional pull.
Stone pillars mark the entrance to her sprawling farm, and headless white mannequins mark the curving driveway that cuts its way through even more sculptures scattered on the lawn – her pink and white cow, for one, a weather balloon, a bear, a model Red Baron-type airplane, red, of course.
And there’s much more – gorgeous, serious, funny, funky, outrageous, interesting pieces, but all guaranteed to delight the eye, convey a message, evoke an emotion.
Fagan is planning The Lake Nockamixon Art Farm Getaway in August because she believes “no matter what a person’s income they deserve to have lovely things in their home, and she’ll offer about 400 pieces of art priced “from $2 to several hundreds.” They include some really neat art for children’s rooms.
Typically, she has turned the sale weekend into something very special. She’s calling it “a visual and theatrical event” that will include two programs of outdoor performances revolving around the lawn sculptures – one on the evening of Aug. 13 and the other on the afternoon of the 14th – with times and details still being worked out.
New York actor, theater coach and online theater teacher Anne Lilly will present poetic stories and songs. Dr. Fagan said Lilly will move from sculpture to sculpture. As the audience follows her, they’ll be treated to mini-performances varying from Shakespearean sonnets to the mad ravings of a lady-like Kleptomaniac as well as a rogues gallery of other fascinating characters.
Dr. Fagan said there will be no admission fee for those attending the performances. “Instead of admission, though, visitors could think about purchasing something for their homes. That way they take home both the experience and something tangible to enjoy,” she said.