By April W. Klimley, Art Critic
June isn’t just for weddings, beach time or boating. The month has also brings with it a rebirth of creative energy and a potpourri of fine art openings, exhibitions, street art and murals. In fact, there’s so much to see—and so many exhibition openings— that it may be hard to decide what to see each weekend or even during the week. Let me help you decide by giving you a preview of what’s going on during the first half of the month.
This coming weekend there are two key openings taking place on the central part of the Shore. One takes place in Red Bank (June 6), the other in Shrewsbury (June 7).
Saturday June 6 head for the Art Alliance in Red Bank which is holding its final exhibit of the season—The Ebba Osborne Memorial Award Exhibition. A reception runs from 6 pmto 8 pm opening night with music and refreshments in the back room. The exhibit focuses on two themes—“Dreamy” and “Interior”—and a $100 prize will be awarded to the Best in Show. Asbury Park photographic artists Tom and Lois White are judging the exhibit. Their work will be on display in the Alliance windows.
The next day, Sunday June 7, The Guild of Creative Art in Shrewsbury is inviting the public to an opening reception from 3 pm to 5 pm for Penelope Breem’s exhibit of black and white photographs. The show includes two separate sections –“Doorways of Janus” and “The Visual Role of Shadows.”
Penelope Breen, Shadows, 5.30.2015
The photographs in the “Doorway of Janus” seemed strangely flat and I couldn’t see the connection with the title. But “Shadows” is an entirely different story. Here Breen captures a multitude of moods. Rainy Night, for instance with its beautiful splashes of reflected light is haunting. Looking at this photograph, I almost shivered and felt as if I were standing on the street on a rainy night. The image also reminded me of Brassai’s gelatin silver print scenes of Paris in the mist taken in the early 20th century.
The second weekend of June—the 13th and 14th—is also packed with art openings and even more variety.
Saturday the 13th treat yourself to a trip to the lovely Middletown Library. The Friends of the Library have organized an exhibition of pastels and photographs by the husband/wife team of artists Eleni and Ernest Antholis. An opening reception is taking place from 2 pm to 4 pm in the afternoon. The exhibit is also a fundraiser for the library, since the Antholtis’ will donate one-third of the proceeds from their sales to the Friends of the Middletown Township Public Library, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the welfare of the library.
If you get to the Middletown reception early, you’ll probably have time to drive up to Atlantic Highlands for a second reception—and maybe even dinner, since the town is full of excellent restaurants.
So stop at the Second Story Art Gallery before dinner. The Gallery is holding a reception between 5 pm and 7 pm for its new exhibition called “The Art of the Letter.” It consists of works of calligraphy by Robert O’Connor, the artist/owner of the frame store and gallery.
O’Connor’s calligraphic artwork is fascinating. He takes English or Latin words or letters and combines them into beautiful designs. Each piece is unique and you can clearly see that they were inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts. O’Connor told me he even plans to include two actual pages of illuminated manuscripts in the exhibit. They are small pages from what was called a “Book of Hours.” These were prayer books used for daily devotions during the Middle Ages. They were painted laboriously by monks on vellum. At times the lettering that resulted was so beautiful it became a work of art in itself. Illuminated manuscripts may be a lost art today, but this exhibit gives you a look at that old tradition and how it can inspire a contemporary artist. Don’t miss out on it. Two examples of O’Connor’s work are shown below.
Robert O’Connor, Alphabet, 5.31.2015
Robert O’Connor, Life Begets Life, 5.31.2015
On Sunday the 14th you can end the fine arts part of your weekend on a satisfying note at an evening reception from 7 pm to 10 pm at the Monmouth Beach Cultural Center on Ocean Ave. The Center is hosting a solo exhibition of Mike Scherfen’s watercolors. These paintings, many of them landscapes, glow with brilliant color. In fact they are so vivid that they resemble oils. But Scherfen’s work has a lighter and more joyous “feel” than most painter achieve in oil.
Mike Scherfen, Ponte Vecchio, Florence 5.31.2015
One painting in the exhibit captured my attention immediately for two reasons: one is sentimental; the other has to do with its beauty and uniqueness. It is a view of the Ponte Vecchio (shown above), the only bridge the Germans left standing over the Arno after bombing the city during World War II. Most artists paint the entire length of the bridge which makes it almost a cliché. I’ve never seen painting of a close-up of the shops on one side of the bridge. But I recognized these shops immediately, since I had seen them from that angle many times walking to school as a child living in Florence. My brother and I had to use a footbridge to cross the river and the Ponte Vecchio lay nearby.
The scene itself is also beautifully painted. The walls of the shops glow in the Italian sunlight and the dark water shimmers just the way I remember it. It’s hard for me to time. And believe that Schefern usually paints from photographs that he takes—not in plein air. But that’s what he told me, so I believe him. I’m wrapping up this column with another arresting watercolor of his. It’s eye-catching, but very different from the painting shown above.
Mike Scherfen, Fontana del Pantheon, Rome, 5.30.2015.
NOTE: Permission from the artist must be sought before reproduction. Send notices of upcoming exhibits to [email protected].
EXHIBITIONS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE
Atlantic Highlands—“The Art of the Letter ” by Robert O’Connor
- At the Second Story Gallery, above the The Painted Frame shop located
at 78 First Ave.732-291-0100
- OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday June 13 from 5 pm to 7 pm
- DATES: From June 13 to August 1
Middletown Library— “Off the Wall”—Artwork by Eleni and Ernest Antholis
- Organized by the Friends of the Middletown Library 732-671-3700
- Held at the Middletown Library, 55 New Monmouth Road
- OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday June 13 from 2 pm to 4 pm
- DATES: From June 13 to July 7
Monmouth Beach— Solo Exhibition of Mike Michael Scherfen’s Watercolors
- Held at the Monmouth Beach Cultural Center, 128 Ocean Ave.
- OPENING RECEPTION. Sunday June 14 from 7 pm to 10 pm
- DATES: From June 11 through June 27
- HOURS OPEN: Wed.-Sat. 10 am to 2 pm
Red Bank— The Ebba Osborne Memorial Award Exhibition
- Open to members & nonmembers on two themes: “Dreamy” and “Interior”
- Held at the Art Alliance, 33 Monmouth St. 732-842-1441
- OPENING RECEPTION: From June 6 from 6 pm to 8 pm; Refreshments and music.
- JUDGES for $100 PRIZE: Tom and Lois White.
Shrewsbury— Photographs by Penelope Breem
- At the Guild of Creative Arts 620 Broad St., 07702 732-742-1441
- DATES: From June 7 through approximately June 28
- OPENING RECEPTION: Sunday June 7 from 3 pm to 5 pm