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Chester County Press

Colorful fish and clever titles at Bookplace

04/23/2018 10:43AM ● By J. Chambless

'You Know Ya Need That Thing About as Much as a Woman Needs a Man'

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

Bookplace in Oxford is full of fish this weekend for the opening of “Below the Surface,” a solo show by New Jersey artist NJ DeVico.

One long wall is devoted to oil pastels of tropical fish against vividly colored backgrounds, but it's DeVico's captions that give wry, humorous dimension to them: “Don't Worry Dear, There Are Other Fish in the Tank,” “Please Don't Teach a Man to Fish,” and “You Know Ya need That Thing About as Much as a Woman Needs a Man” (two fish surveying a submerged bicycle).

To tie the show together thematically, there's a line of plastic trash on the floor under the fish paintings, underscoring the urgent threat to marine life from the world's floating refuse. It's a surprising counterpoint to pleasant paintings of fish with cute titles, but it makes its point.

The larger works are highlighted by an oil pasel of a shark swimming in a solar system, titled “Whenever She Asked Her Father a Question, he said 'Let's Look it Up.'”

There are some small abstracts that benefit from the wry titles as well, such as the blue-green patches in “I'll E-Mail You at 3 AM When I Remember the Word I'm Trying to Think Of,” and one suggesting a doorway and figures titled “His Eyes Only Started Tearing After She Left the Room.”

More direct is “Ophelia's Flowers,” a lovely little contemplation of a stalk of leaves and blooms drifting in a multicolored stream.

Bright, amusing and unexpected, “Below the Surface” opens with a reception on April 29 and continues through May 14. Bookplace (2373 Baltimore Pike, Oxford) is open Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Call 717-715-4775 or visit

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].