The Shore Fine Art Scene Is in Full Blossom

April Chairs

April W. Klimley

April W. Klimley


By April W. Klimley, Art Critic

Everything starts blooming in May—including the Shore art scene. All of a sudden, galleries and artists’ organizations are all holding openings.  It’s almost impossible to decide which to attend. The art scene may not be as broad and deep here as it is in New York City—where the auction houses sell the “best of the best” of modern during these weeks—from Picasso to Giacometti. But there’s a great deal of excitement and variety, and even more to come in June.


Opening this Friday the 15th

This Friday, for instance, if you find yourself in Red Bank, drop by the Oyster Point Hotel from 7 pm to 9 pm. That’s when a reception is being hosted for a debut exhibit of Lisa Ficarelli-Halpern’s oil still lifes. These paintings have a certain surrealistic feeling to them the way they combine traditional themes with modern electronics. The Still Life with Birds and Desserts, shown below, is just one example of the unique style she has created.

Halpern Still Life With Birds and Desserts


Lisa Ficarelli-Halpern,  Still Life with Birds and Desserts, oil on canvas, 36” x 50”


Belmar Arts Council

If you have some free time this week during the day, make a beeline for the Boatworks building in Belmar. It’s the home of the Belmar Arts Council, which has a juried exhibit of member works on display through the middle of the month. Two pieces stood out to me. The first, Ken Stetz’s “Bay Sunset,” is a beautifully rendered, somewhat melancholy watercolor of an empty rowboat sitting on the water at sunset.

Ken Stetz Sunset, Bay


Ken Stetz, Sunset, Bay Watercolor, Belmar Art Alliance, 5.9.2015

Stetz  perfectly captures both the sadness and beauty of the sunset over water.

My second favorite is a powerful photograph by William Walker entitled Winter’s Silence.  It shows a row of benches covered with snow receeding into the background along the boardwalk. There is a sense of silence as you look off to the horizon and then to the left where the water must be—but isn’t shown. The picture evinces the isolation and loneliness that winter can impose even at the Jersey shore.

William Walker, Winter's Silence


William Walker, Winter’s Silence, photograph, Belmar Art Council, 5.9.2015


Driving Up Route 35 to Shrewsbury and Red Bank

Leaving Belmar driving north on Route 35, you may want to stop off at the Guild of Creative Art in Shewsbury. There you can see the all member show of garden-inspired artwork, completely appropriate for the spring season.  On display is also a mini-show called “Small Treasurers” featuring work by associate members.

Your next stop will undoubtedly be some of the galleries in Red Bank, as well as the Art Alliance on Monmouth Street. From September to June, the Art Alliance has exhibits that change monthly. So it’s always wise to check on what they are exhibiting and attend their monthly openings—usually held the first Saturday of the month from 6 to 8 pm.  The Alliance even provides food, refreshments, and music in their back room (which doubles as an art studio during the week). Where else can you feast both the eye and the ear?

The animal theme the Alliance chose for this month’s exhibit is perfect for May. After all, it’s a time when everyone, including animals, finally emerge outdoors after a long winter. I have three favorites in this space—two from the actual exhibit, and one by a student artist.  My first favorite is a playful watercolor by April Maisano called Forever-Long Tag-Along. It’s a lovely watercolor of brightly colored coats hanging in a closet. When you look further, you see a small ferret observing the coats from the top of a the closet bar. Somehow this scene struck my funnybone.

April Maisano, Forever-Long Tag-Along


April Maisano, Forever-Long Tag-Along, watercolor. Art Alliance. 5.2.2015

At the other end of the spectrum the egg tempera by Eileen Kennedy of her gray cat called Shadow if very soothing and quiet. Kennedy’s mastery of this centuries-old painting technique works especially well in capturing the sleek coat of fur and nobility of this well-loved pet cat. I first encountered Kennedy’s work at an exhibit at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank last spring where her work was displayed along with that of her talented digital photographer cousin Lynne Kennedy.  It was amazing to see Kennedy could capture so many dream-like moods in the paintings of that exhibit and the same talent is demonstrated her in the Shadow painting.

Eileen Kennedy Shadow


Eileen Kennedy, Shadow, egg tempura, 5.2.2015


Student Artists from the Shore Demonstrate Talent

In the midst of all this adult art, I sometimes wonder where talented young people go here at the shore to cultivate their art talent. It’s a big question especially at a time when many secondary schools have cut out art programs for cost reasons.

I received an answer to that question in the back of the Art Alliance gallery. Tucked away in the back corner, given a special space all of its own, lies a small “side show” of drawings and paintings by student artists from the region. Some are students of Terry Grewen who runs a Monday afternoon Children’s Art Workshop during the school year.

A painting of by one of her students—12-year-old Anthony Romero—caught my attention.  It is a painting of three wolves emerging from the forest into the snow in pursuit of an animal that has left tracks behind.

Anthony Romero, Serious Business

Anthony Romero, Serious Business, a study of wolves based on a painting by famed animal artist Guy Coheleach, (12-year-old student at Terry Grewen’s Monday afternoons Children’s Art Workshop)

Entitled Serious Business, this painting is actually a study based on a work by famed animal artist Guy Coheleach. I took a look at the original. It’s clearly much more realistic than Romero’s study. But somehow I felt Romero created a more powerful composition. He expanded the snow in the foreground making the scene look even colder than the original. And he painted the wolves in a more abstract brush stroke style that seemed to emphasize their ferociousness. This all adds up to an extra dimension of movement in this study and I was just waiting to hear the wolves growl.

Across from the wolves painting lies a small array of paintings and drawings by student artists from Asbury Park High School. These include a set of pencil portraits of heroes the students drew for Jean Johnson, their art teacher, to honor Black History month.

Jean Johnson


Art teacher Jean Johnson from Asbury Park High School had her student/artists create portraits of their heroes for Black History month.

The portrait that first caught my eye was a pencil drawing of Haitian rapper and musician  Jean Wyclef by student/artist Yves Stephane Pierre. Wyclef’s head is thrown back in an almost ecstatic way, his are dreadlocks flying, and he looks ready to come up with the next line of his song. This was only one of the very interesting array of drawing Ms Johnson had brought to the Alliance show which revealed the budding talents of young artists in Asbury Park.



Yves Stephane Pierre, Jean Wyclef (Haitian Performer), Pencil on paper, Art Alliance, Red Bank, May 9, 20125

If this isn’t enough art for you, visit some of the Red Bank galleries after checking out the Art Alliance. Or drive up to Atlantic Highlands or Highlands to see what’s on tap there. Several new galleries have sprung up in Atlantic Highlands, and there are a number of exhibits in unusual venues (restaurants, et al) in Highlands these days. We’ll be bring you more details in our June column. Meanwhile, stay tuned for Part 2 of our May column which will be published next week.

Exhibitions Mentioned in the Column


Belmar—The Belmar Arts Council, The Boatworks, 608 River Rd.,  732-749-3360

  • EXHIBIT “Jersey Shore Juried Art Show 2015”
  • JUROR: Janet Cook April 22-May 15, 2015

Red Bank—Art Alliance, 33 Monmouth St., Red Bank, NJ 07701, 732-842-9403

  • EXHIBIT “Animals” Member artwork
  • DATES: May 2-28
  • OPENINGS: Held the first Saturday of the month, September through June, with refreshments and music, 6-8 pm, (Call to confirm.)

Red Bank—Oyster Point Hotel, Bodman Place

○  EXHIBIT: “The Painted Banquet,” paintings by Lisa Ficarelli-Halpern

○  DATES: May 15 through June 29

○  OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, May 15, 7-9 pm; refreshments and wine

Shrewsbury – Guild of Creative Art 620 Broad St., Shrewsbury NJ 07702,


  • EXHIBIT: All-Member, Garden-Inspired Artwork,” plus

“Small Treasures” by Associate Members DATES: May 9-May 28


Posted: May 13th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: April W. Klimley, Art, Monmouth County, Monmouth County News, Things to do in Monmouth County, Things to do on the Jersey Shore | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Shore Fine Art Scene Is in Full Blossom

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