Penny Solomon has created her own niche in the world of art with her uniquely designed clothing and accessories. More than 1,000 of her pieces will be on display and available for sale during the Katz JCC’s 27th annual Festival of Arts, Books and Culture in November.
As she walks through the backyard of her picturesque home in the Wexford Leas development of Cherry Hill, artist Penny Solomon wraps a colorful scarf over her shoulders.
The scarf is multiple colors, with shades of blue and purple eventually transitioning to orange and pink in the middle.
This unique item can’t be found in any typical clothing store. This item and others like it can only be found inside Solomon’s home.
A lifetime artist, Solomon has created dozens of paintings and drawings throughout her career. However, what sets her apart from other artists is the way she has combined art and fashion. Solomon has created thousands of clothing and jewelry items, each with a unique, homemade design.
Many of Solomon’s handmade items will be on display at the Katz JCC’s 27th annual Festival of Arts, Books and Culture from Nov. 13 through Nov. 20. Solomon is one of three featured artists in the festival’s Appel Art Gallery this year.
Solomon said she’s been involved in art for as long as she can remember. She attended the Philadelphia College of Art from 1959 to 1961 and later graduated from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 1963.
Much of Solomon’s art is picturesque. Some of her paintings depict scenes of people in a city setting, while others are more abstract, with the background conveying a certain meaning.
“I like to incorporate interesting environments, not just a bare figure,” Solomon said of her work.
While Solomon’s paintings are impressive on their own, her work with clothing makes her a truly unique artist. Solomon’s “wearable art” combines her artistic creativity with various fabrics. Some of the pieces of clothing Solomon creates include ties, purses, scarves, capes and various pieces of jewelry.
“I like to see colors float on a paper,” Solomon said. “The next step was to play around with silk. The colors flow into each other so beautifully that I started dyeing pieces of silk.”
“I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if they were folded over and turned into a wearable,” Solomon added.
Solomon’s work has appeared in dozens of shows and exhibitions across the last couple of decades. In additional, Solomon has her own permanent collection at the Stedman Art Gallery on the campus of Rutgers University in Camden.
Solomon does all of her work in her Wexford Leas home. With the opening of the ABC Festival quickly approaching on Nov. 13, Solomon’s house is full of boxes upon boxes of jewelry items, clothing and accessories, all of which she designed. Solomon estimates she will be bringing more than 1,000 total items to the Katz JCC.
Visitors to the Appel Art Gallery will get a chance to check a wide selection of Solomon’s work.
“There’s going to be ties, there’s going to be purses,” Solomon said. There will be closed body bags and evening purses.”
“There’s going to be tons of scarves and wraps, which some people have framed rather than worn, because they are so colorful,” Solomon added.
One of Solomon’s favorite pieces are blazers featuring a special image painted onto them.
“I’ve taken a series of ladies blazers that I buy,” Solomon said. “Than I get a broach to go on the lapel. Then I paint a replica of the broach somewhere on the jacket.”
Solomon does all of the artistic work, but she has a lot of help when it comes to putting everything together. Her manager, Alyssa Joseph, helps Solomon keep an inventory of everything she creates. She gets additional help from jeweler Lisa Joseph, who puts the finishing touches on necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry after Solomon designs it, and Nancy Oliver, who puts together some of the patchwork clothing items Solomon designs.
“I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who are top notch,” Solomon said.
Today, Solomon keeps a low profile in the Cherry Hill community. Most of her work she displays and sells at her own home shows. Solomon enjoys opening the doors of her home to anyone interested in her work. Her home is decorated with paintings spanning her entire career.
All of the items on display at the festival will be available for purchase. There will be a reception for Solomon and the other participating artists in the festival on Monday, Nov. 14 at 5:30 p.m. The reception is free to attend. For more information, visit www.katzjcc.org/abcfest. Visit Solomon’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Penny-Solomon-Wearable-Art-143170352372725 for more pictures of her wearable art.