If there was a theme for the works assembled and hung in the first Art Chat group exhibit at the Little Egg Harbor branch of the Ocean County Library, it might be “art finds a way.”
Such was the thinking that gave birth to the group itself some five years ago, and again when the time seemed right to come out of the pandemic and put on an art exhibit – just when “everyone world needed it,” said organizer Nancy Glines.
The atmosphere in the gallery room? Fun.
“Somebody’s got to start. Somebody’s got to keep going,” Glines said.
Beloved art teacher Tom Rutledge, of the Pine Shores Art Association in Manahawkin, was posted inside the door to the library’s gallery room during the reception on Wednesday, May 11, watching guests arrive and admire the work, sharing his thoughts on figurative art, more generally realism – the basis for so many art styles to follow. As each new -ism or school of thought emerges, he mused, an older one loosens its grip on society’s attention. He noted that modernism took a long time to let go.
The exhibit was the first of its kind for Art Chat and the largest of its kind for the library.
“It’s funny. It’s been such an amazing group,” said Glines, founder of Art Chat and Waretown resident. third Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. at the Tuckerton branch of the Ocean County Library, to share what they are working on and receive feedback if desired.
The only “rule” for participating is to be kind, helpful and encouraging to other artists, according to Glines, who called it an “interesting mix of artistry and personalities.”
The group includes photographers and specialists in watercolour, acrylic, ink, gouache and oil. Newcomers are welcome to join.
The library offered the space to Art Chat last November, for the month of May 2022, and Glines seized the opportunity. She has participated in shows in the past but has never organized one. The planning for the show went remarkably well, she said.
One of more than two dozen performers is Maura Glines, the granddaughter of Nancy, a high school student from Barnegat who headed to Rowan University in the fall.
Maura grew up making art with her grandmother and was honored to participate in her first art exhibition, for which she painted “Lemon Blossom” from her own reference photo. Being a nature lover, she said, she chose a subject that she thought would fit in with the group, she explained.
Her artistic talent pushes her toward imaginative work, she said, including graphic design. At school, she is a visual learner; she takes notes in class by drawing her lessons instead of writing words.
Philadelphia Watercolor Society artist Dee Turba explained that a “hidden creature” is a signature of his work. Any landscape or composition she paints, she incorporates animal life for the viewer to bend over and try to find, truly encouraging them to get lost in the detail of every cloud and blade of grass.
His gouache work entitled “Peek-a-boo” shows a hairy face peering out from behind a broken dock.
For Joe Harness, his multimedia collage “Clowning in a Depression” was a reflection on mental health, juxtaposing highs and lows, using a photo found in the 1930s of a boy in a clown costume. He rediscovered his love of art in retirement, he said, when he took a veterans art course at the Medford Arts Center and then founded Art Chat.
The art gives Harness “time away from it all,” he said, in a dedicated space in his basement.
Lester Majkowski presented one of the few photographs in the exhibition, “Tuckerton Seaport”, which he described as a moment of serendipity, with the boat, the moment, the light and the storm unfolding.
His interest in photography started as a personal challenge, he explained. He picked up a digital camera and realized he had a knack for capturing the essence of an object, say a dying tree, photographed from the base, looking up, reaching out.
“Every image tells a story,” he said. And it’s not the same story for everyone. “If it looks good in the lens, I take it.” He shoots a Nikon D850.
Art Chat is a very cozy place, Mijkowski said. He started going there in 2018 and finds it “very rewarding”. It’s nice to see people opening up and breaking free, he says.
After 30 years as an artist, James McShea’s ‘Members United’ summary is a new direction for him, he said. His most recent work deals with the interactions between basic forms – balancing color and form in pleasing presentations.
McShea received her BFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in 1985 and her MFA in painting from Yale University’s Yale School of Art in 1989.
He first went to Art Chat around the start of the year looking for a challenge, he said. His new painting, done with a wet-on-wet technique, is “much more exuberant” than the palettes he used in the past. The main colors are purple and green, which dialogue, he explained; the vertical bars are pink for her granddaughter, but they represent a group of people gathered on a stage.
Stop by during library hours to see the work. For more information about Art Chat, contact Glines at [email protected]
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