Patrons of the newly opened The Rib Shack in Succasunna are experiencing a large dose of County College of Morris (CCM) flavor on top of the barbecue being served up from the kitchen.
That’s because the restaurant, which opened in early April at 275 Route 10 in the Roxbury Mall, features a large window mural that emits an authentic western feel created by CCM fine arts major John Bennett of Vernon.
“I would describe the piece as a colossal acrylic window mural that reflects on the bold beauty of the West, a part of America that we are truly missing out on here in northern New Jersey,” says Bennett. “It flows effortlessly with The Rib Shack's theme.”
Bennett came upon the opportunity thanks to Todd L. W. Doney, professor of visual arts at CCM. Doney approached Bennett, who was painting a turtle in color theory class, and asked if he would be interested in creating a mural. Doney relayed a conversation he had with owner Kevin Walsh about the project.
"We met up for the first time the very next afternoon and I began the commission within a couple of days,” says Bennett.
In trying to achieve a true western look, Bennett said he looked to the work of artists like Frederic Remington for inspiration. He says the scene in the mural was imagined and contains ideas that were influenced by many different works.
Bennett also says his art has been influenced greatly by the art teachers he has had through the years, especially his professors at CCM.
“Every art teacher I’ve had since kindergarten had a huge impact on me and the art I make,” he says. “All of my art professors at CCM were extremely helpful and had positive influences on the way I look at art and the ways that I create it. They all helped in their own unique way. Understanding art through the eyes of another artist is awesome and incredibly significant for anyone who has as much passion for the arts as I do.”
Bennett has received a lot of positive feedback concerning his mural at The Rib Shack.
“The owners, employees and even all of the customers were very supportive and it felt great painting in that friendly of an environment,” says Bennett. “Everyone was extremely pleased with what they saw.”
Along with the western mural and art displayed in cases throughout the halls at CCM, Bennett currently has a landscape painting hanging at the Randolph office of Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (25th District Morris County).
Photos: A mural depicting a scene from the West, painted by County College of Morris (CCM) student John Bennett, graces the interior of the newly opened The Rib Shack in Succasunna. Bennett is a fine arts major at CCM.
Credit: John Bennett