Ric Ocasek of The Cars brings visual art to New Jersey

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Ric Ocasek has something to show you.

Ocasek, the frontman of acclaimed classic pop-rock outfit the Cars, is set to unveil the premiere engagement of the exhibition “Ric Ocasek: Color the Lines” this weekend.

The massive collection, a combination of acrylic paintings on canvas and colored marker drawings on paper, will be presented starting Saturday, Oct. 21, at Wentworth Gallery at the Mall at Short Hills. Ocasek will be in attendance from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, and the public is encouraged to RSVP to this free artist reception.

It’s been more than 40 years since Ocasek first began crafting pristine-yet-quirky pop-rock with the Cars; the band broke big thanks to the 1978 singles “Just What I Needed” and “My Best Friend’s Girl”).

Ocasek described how the process of creating drawings or paintings compares to the art of crafting a song.

“Both things start with a blank piece of paper, so that’s one thing,” Ocasek said. “The other thing is (in) the creative process for writing music, there are more things involved. You’re a little more physical.

“However, having random ideas and kind of putting them together into a finished piece is almost the same as drawing and painting, well for me because I kind of do abstract stuff. I’m not trying to be too realistic. It’s sort of something that just grows.”

Several of Ocasek’s pieces set to go on display are abstract, geometrical works in the style of innovative Russian master Wassily Kandinsky. The work finds Ocasek, who has been drawing since the 1960s, playing with the conventions of pop art — namely bright colors and, in some instances, thick line work — similar to how he’s famously and successfully put his own idiosyncratic spin on pop music.

“Ever since the ’60s, obviously I was pretty wrapped up in pop music and also pop art. You know, I loved Andy Warhol at the beginning, I loved some of the Dadaist guys, too, and that whole philosophy of the immediacy of it — the colors, the everyday ready made stuff, that whole philosophical thing.

“And that sort of went also with the music. I mean, I guess I always appreciated good pop music, good singles from the ’50s and ’60s, the Beatles, but also I always loved the Velvet Underground and the Incredible String Band and the Fugs. And so between the two, I was always looking for a crossover between what is pop but also what is legitimate or what is artistic rather than just what is commercial.”

It was announced earlier this month that Ocasek and the Cars, eligible for inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2003, had been nominated for inclusion in the institution for the third consecutive year.

“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers, and (get) that little extra thing that says you sort of fall into this group of people who are pretty recognized for their music,” Ocasek said of the nomination. “So in that sense it’s a pretty nice thing to look forward to, if it happens this year.”