Saturday, September 15, 2018

Out of the Box

Well, maybe the long hot summer has finally ended.  Certainly fewer people in town than we've seen in a while, and better parking.  Time for BelmarArts to get back to the usual business.

But before we had another opening reception, a short membership meeting.  Having a non-profit arts organization is a lot of work and we want to keep having this one.  Two take-aways from this meeting:

1) a lot of people want to have a lot of activities, the kind of stuff we've been doing for years.
2) people are needed to organize and run these activities.

So if you have an idea for something you want us to do, talk to the board and you may get to do it.  We need money, volunteers, leadership, expertise, etc.

And with that taken care of, time for fun.  Right now in the Boatworks we have two shows, the first two new ones to open since early in the summer.  The front gallery features an exhibition called "Art Inside the Box."  The term "outside the box" is thrown around a lot in the art world, generally referring to work or artists who go against the usual in their art or ways of thinking.  Turns out that a box has nothing to do with limiting creativity, as this show has all kinds of art in boxes, involving many different materials and subjects.

Organized by Dug Smith and Louise Krasniewicz, there are about two dozen works, with the only thing in common being some kind of structure to partly contain it, but the ideas come bursting out anyway.

Meanwhile in the back gallery we have examples of work from the students of the International Center of Photography, an invitational exhibition.  The 30+ pieces are from members of the class of 2018, and examples from such programs as Creative Practices, Documentary Practice, Visual Journalism, and New Media Narratives.  It is curated by BelmarArts member and ICP grad Drew Leventhal.

And as a special bonus tonight, we had the raffle for the Friedman's sign, with Jim Aberle handling the drum of tickets.  The name on the winning ticket was a bit illegible, but there was a number and a phone call confirmed who the winner was.  When that information is shared with me, I'll post it here.

Both Art Inside a Box and the ICP exhibition run through Friday, October 12, 2018.  Admission is free.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ancestors Reception

Tonight was the opening reception for our new current exhibition- Ancestors.  Participants were invited to create an image that celebrated their ancestors and their lives, their accomplishments, or their influence on their art.  In addition to a piece from the participating artist, everyone was invited to include some kind of family heirloom, photos, artworks, or crafts from the ancestor, with hopes that the combination of contemporary art and the ancestral creations would spark interesting dialogue about the influences of our ancestors on our creative lives.

The format for tonight's event was one of our salon style receptions, where each participating artist was invited to talk about the piece, their ancestor, and anything else relevant to that question of influences.

As part of the theme, the refreshments were labeled to play up their possible relationships to our ancestors.  The one incongruence this blogger felt was the large plastic bottle of Hawaiian Punch- in my past it only came in very large metal cans.  On the other hand, great effort was made to find things like Pop Rocks.

As things started around 5 pm, the crowd was small, but this was not unexpected, as this was a summer Saturday afternoon in Belmar, and Main Street was pretty much gridlocked.  And every parking space in the vicinity of the Boatworks was occupied by vehicles that had not brought people to the reception.  More than a few people had walked from other parts of town, or even from other towns.  Luckily, this is our last scheduled reception before Labor Day, and over time more people arrived from the distant parking space.  Over the course of the reception, about 40-50 people turned up to see the art and hear the stories.

Late in the 5:00 hour, the salon part of the reception was started, by BelmarArts chair Dana Cahoon  and exhibition curator Louise Krasniewicz.  The show occupies all of both the front and back galleries, so the crowd had to move around to catch all the stories.

One thing that many stories had in common was that the Ancestor often had demonstrated creative interests and skills, and often the ancestral artifact was an example of their creative activities- paintings, drawings, etc.  Even when these things did not seem to have a specific influence on the participants current art, they may have influenced many toward finding their own creative outlet for expressing themselves.

The Ancestors exhibition remains on display during regular gallery hours through September 7, 2018.    Admission is free, as is parking, though the latter may be at a premium on weekends.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Something New in Belmar

One of the important things that an artist has to learn is that some projects take time, and sometimes it takes a long time to create important things.  Tonight at the Boatworks we dedicated something that took a year, or maybe a decade, depending on how you look at it.   I'll explain.

The earliest years of the Belmar Arts Council were spent in various temporary, shared, and borrowed spaces.  Some of them literally no longer exist.  About a dozen years ago we moved into our current headquarters, the former Connolly Boatworks.  At the time it was an abandoned shell of a building, but it had a floor, walls, and a roof, plus plumbing and electricity. In the years since members have done a lot to fix up the building- redoing the floors, building and rebuilding interior walls, new ceilings, new doors, fixing and creating additions.  But that's just the inside.

There have been some municipal paving projects, and a lot of planting projects in the front, but our side yard, between the building and the municipal parking lot just to the north, has seen a lot of art activity over the years, too.  That first year in the building one of our big public projects was to create dozens of cast concrete creatures- bases, bodies, and heads that could be mixed a matched many ways, used for an event on Belmar Beach, where they seemed to emerge from the water to fill the sand, the event also including dancers, musicians, and storytellers.  (had no digital camera back then, but if I can find some old printed photos I'll post beach images here) The creatures eventually found their way back to our building where they can still be seen around the outside.  They were cast in vacuum-formed plastic molds, supported in pits dug in the sand in our side yard.

When we realized we very much needed additional space, we took advantage of existing apertures in our concrete wall to add an addition.  This now includes our education classroom, a huge closet, other storage, and a new side door, occupying a chunk of our side yard.

That side yard had been used to stage many things related to art going on in the building.  A lot of bands have played there, and we've hosted a lot of art demonstrations.

In 2010, that yard held a temporary skateboard ramp park (above) and in 2012, we had people using stencils (below) to paint designs on motor vehicles (at the owner's request- we are not vandals).

At one point our side yard held the old Freedman's bakery sign- here we see one of the round parts that used to hold the letters that spelled out BAKERY.

As part of yard and exterior improvements, we planted trees (above) and when they died, we removed the dead trees (below).  Being that the property had once been a boat repair shop, it's not surprising that the dirt and sand is contaminated with a lot of oil, and major plantings require digging through layers of asphalt and concrete.  Despite that, we have gotten a lot of things to grow over the years.

Alan the robot has been one of our most popular members for the past few years, having returned to our yard after spending time in another part of town.  All summer long people will stop by and take photos with him.

One of the more unusual uses of the space was a big community project in 2011- the creation of a mud mural.

Using an ancient cob building technique, it was constructed by volunteers using locally found bamboo, straw, and clay, and formed an outdoor vertical artwork.  And yes, those are more of our concrete cast creatures providing support around the base.

Despite being made from only natural materials, and existing completely exposed to the elements, it survived two hurricanes and numerous other coastal storms, before Belmar took it down to pave our new parking area.  Our unimproved side yard has been a very busy and well used space.

And yet somehow a new never before tried use was found for the space, a process that began over a year ago.  The idea was to create an outdoor sculpture garden containing a labyrinth.  Not so much a maze (the walls are only a few inches high), but such places are designed to give people a chance to walk around, contemplate and meditate.  In this case it is also the focal point of an outdoor sculpture garden.  Members Louise Krasniewicz and Jim Aberle were instrumental to the conception and designing of the labyrinth, but many many other people were involved in the process.

Plants and rocks were dug up and removed.  A large weed barrier was put down, held in place with gravel and stones, based on the planned design.  Many plants were added to mark the borders and walls.

And since this is part of a sculpture garden, large outdoor sculptures were place surrounding the labyrinth, with our friend Alan standing guard over the whole thing.  This all took a long time.

And that brings us to today.  The official dedication ceremony for our new labyrinth and sculpture garden was scheduled for 5:00 today.  Weather reports on tv and radio told us that rain was also scheduled for 5:00 today, not good for a planned outdoor event.  What would happen?

One of today's activities was the raffling off of part of the Freedman's Bakery sign that was given to us years ago when the bakery closed.  (I guess those big round letters are going to another purpose) Actually today was just the beginning of the raffle. Tickets will continue to be sold through the summer, with the drawing to be held sometime before Labor Day.  The winner will receive this large sign, a landmark in Belmar for many decades.

The rain held off, yet all the action early on was inside.   The sign in the front gallery, crowds sitting at our cafe tables in the back gallery.  What were they all looking at?

We had some live music going on- Jon Falk's Band.  That's him on the far left on stage.  They played a nice mix of classic rock that suited our not too young audience quite well.

Meanwhile, the mosaic mural project was continuing in our side education room.  Considerable work was done since last week, but it's not done yet.  The new goal is by the end of the summer.  

But after allowing time for people to arrive, the crowd was encouraged to go outside so we could get the main event going.

Louise Krasniewicz (with mosaic artist Linda Baran right next to her) gave a brief speech, mentioning how it was inspired, influences, and what the goals are.

Then Jim Aberle, who also did considerable work on the project, was called on to say a few words.

Then Belmar's current mayor Brian Magovern, who among other things praised BelmarArts as one of the most active centers of culture in the town.

Then we had an improvised ribbon cutting ceremony to make the day official.  Not that it's all done.  This labyrinth and sculpture garden is a work in progress.  Plants will grow, and more sculptures are expected to be added.  But here's a list of who is represented so far:

In the foreground, a piece by Alexandra Martin, and in the back (from left to right) works by Rich and Dorsey Lucas and Steve Harrison.

In the above photo- pieces by Lisa Bagwell (left) and Michael Miller (right).

That tall piece in the background is from Mike Grindell, and the round mosaic in the center of the labyrinth is by Linda Baran.

One of the nice things about an outdoor sculpture garden is that it's open all the time.  If there is daylight, you can see it.  But if you come by during regular gallery hours (W-Sat, 1- 5 pm) you can buy a raffle ticket and come inside to see the current Summertime, Summertime show.  And while you are outside, you can see something that we've never had in Belmar before.