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RED BANK: TALKING ‘BOUT JERSEY ARTISTS

evelyn-leavensThe late Red Bank artist Evelyn Leavens (above) is among the creative people showcased in ‘New Jersey Artists Through Time,’ a new book by Middletown-based author and artist Tova Navarra that inaugurates a series of events at Red Bank Public Library.

NJ Artists Thru TimeA quick flip through the newly published New Jersey Artists Through Time reveals a number of creative people whose lives and work were well known here on the Greater Red Bank Green. There’s the late lifelong Red Banker Evelyn Leavens, profiled here a few years back; Jim Gary, legendary maker of dinosaurs from repurposed auto parts; Mike Quon, painter of stylized local landmarks; plus Riccardo Berlingeri, Grace Graupe-Pillard, Judy Martin, Bob Mataranglo, and George Tice.

They’re all there, sharing space with the likes of superstar sculptor George Segal, celebrated printmaker Jabob Landau, and Emmy-winning courtroom artist Ida Libby Dengrove, in the first such study to come along in over 50 years. The books is just the latest of more than 30 published titles for its Middletown-based author — artist, photographer, educator, journalist, former Asbury Park Press art critic and registered nurse Tova Navarra — and the subject of the first in a new series of free ‘Author Talks’ events at Red Bank Public Library, this Wednesday.

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LITTLE SILVER: ARTISTS AND ORCHIDS REPORT

Cafe sign by Nancy EllenAmong the works on display  at Sickles Market Saturday are mixed-media, coastal-themed wall hangings by Yolanda Fleming, above. Orchids fill the greenhouse,on Sunday. (Above photo by Nancy Ellen Photography) 

orchidLocals know the greenhouse area at Sickles Market in Little Silver as a place where the concept of sunnier, greener seasons truly takes a stand against the outside-world onslaught of winter and its slippery discontents.

The warm vibes beneath the bubble of the Sickles greenhouse commence this Saturday with the return of Artists’ Day — an annual event (formerly Artists’ Weekend) that showcases the work of a dozen different creative community members amid the flora of the garden center. Read More »

RED BANK: NO PEDESTALS, NO LIMITS

Art AllianceIt’s UP AGAINST THE WALL at a Saturday evening reception, as a special display of sculpture uses the Art Alliance of Monmouth County gallery itself as a crucial component of the work. 

It’s an installation that lends new meaning to the phrase “support for the arts” — as in this case, the Monmouth Street gallery space of The Art Alliance of Monmouth County is often the one thing that’s holding the featured work of art together.

Opening with a public-welcome reception on Saturday, January 9, the exhibit Up Against the Wall features the work of some of New Jersey’s most innovative creators of three-dimensional pieces; displayed in a way that utilizes “no pedestals…instead, the eleven participating artists will use the existing architecture of the gallery either as a source of support, or as an integral component of their work.”

Remaining on display through February 2, this inaugural Alliance exhibit of 2016 spotlights contributions by Fanny Allié, Michael Benevenia, Riccardo Berlingeri, Maggie Brown, Alison Golder, Seunghwui Koo, Brookdales CC’s Marie Maber, Laura Petrovich-Cheney, Rocco Scary, Katie Truk, and Michael Wiley; an eclectic group whose creations have been seen in parks, libraries, museums, college campuses and even public swimming pools — and whose materials of choice range from steel, wood, fabric, stone and glass to cardboard, found detritus and meticulously folded newspaper.

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RED BANK: LAST CALL FOR ‘ARTS FOR ALL’

Art4AllA seventh grade drum-circle jam, and a hip hop how-to for fifth graders, are just two of the many arts instruction classes brought to Red Bank Middle School by the Count Basie Theatre’s “Arts for All” program, which presents its final session of the year this Tuesday. (Photos by Mary Wyman/ Red Bank Public Schools)

Press release from Red Bank Middle School

As schools across the country are working to integrate arts into their curriculum, Red Bank Middle School has developed an innovative way of bringing a comprehensive arts program to its students—thanks to the Count Basie Theatre.

Called “Arts for All,” the program has brought different arts instruction to each grade at the middle school every Tuesday. Fourth graders are learning cultural dance, while fifth graders are doing hip hop. Sixth grade students are taking theater classes, while the seventh grade is learning percussion. And eighth graders are taking part in a Rwandan Literacy Arts project, in which students create a chapter and illustrations for a book that will be used to teach English to students at the Kampanga and Bisate schools in Rwanda. The drawings that the students create will also be printed onto tiles that will be installed at the schools.

The program is being administered and funded in part by the Count Basie Theatre, which is raising money by donating $10 from every ticket sold for the Bobby Bandiera and Friends Hope Concert 8 events on December 23. In addition, the Basie asked attendees to donate a minimum of $3 for tickets sold to other shows through October 31. So far Count Basie has raised $10,000 toward the costs of the Arts for All program, which presents its final session of 2015 tomorrow, December 15.

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SHREWSBURY: GUILDED GIFTS OF THE SEASON

Angelica._Colored_pencils.Anzhelika Doliba’s pencil portrait “Angelica” (above) and Bob O’Keefe’s stained glass piece “Poe” (below) are among the works on display during the Guild of Creative Art’s Holiday Show 2015. 

Bob O'Keefe's Stained Glass

Bob O’Keefe’s Stained Glass

Long before our neck of Monmouth County could boast its own wine-and-cheese gallery scene or paint-and-sip studio, there was the Guild of Creative Art, the creative collective that’s watched the contemporary landscape of the greater Red Bank area take shape over the past 55 years, from the window of its ever-fascinating house on Shrewsbury’s Route 35 main drag.

This Sunday, December 13, the evergreen local treasure welcomes the public to a yearly happening that stands as a complement to the hustle and bustle of the surrounding stores and stripmalls: the annual All-Member Holiday Show.

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BIG NEA AWARDS TO TWO RED BANK VENUES

Louis Prima JrNext-generation swing-music wildman Louis Prima Jr. and his Witnesses will perform at the Count Basie Theatre in spring 2016, as part of an enhanced Jazz at the Basie slate funded by an Art Works grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. Two River Theater also received an NEA grant, toward the development of a new musical. (Photo by Mitchell Glotzer)

From press materials issued by The Count Basie Theatre and Sen. Bob Menendez

Two major nonprofit arts entities in Red Bank have been named as recipients of a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Art Works award for 2015. The Count Basie Theatre and Two River Theater were among 15 New Jersey-based organizations awarded a total of $290,000 toward the development of original arts programming; part of a 51st annual slate of NEA grants totaling $27.7 million and supporting more than 1,100 projects in 49 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

The NEA’s Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields. Two River Theater Company was recipient of $20,000 to support the development and funding of The Ballad of Little Jo, an original musical featuring lyrics by Sarah Schlesinger and music by Mike Reid (A Wind in the Willows Christmas), as well as supplementary education programming (discussions, student matinees, classroom teachers’ guides) that focuses on the women of Frontier America.

In celebrating its namesake, the Basie will use its $15,000 NEA grant to help produce a series of programs and activities celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month, with jazz-related lectures, films and biopics scheduled to take place throughout April 2016. On May 19 the celebration will continue with a jazz-centric edition of the Count Basie Theatre’s “No Shush!” kid’s concert series, starring Louis Prima Jr and the Witnesses, as well as the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra under the direction of conductor Joe “Mooche” Muccioli, artistic director of the Jazz Arts Project at the Basie’s Performing Arts Academy. Proceeds from that performance — and a donation from the Gia Maione Prima Foundation, named for Prima’s late mother — will match the NEA gift.

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LINCROFT: CALLING ALL CREATIVES

art showPress release from Monmouth County Park System

Calling all artists!  From now through January 18, 2016, the Monmouth County Park System is accepting entries into its Creative Arts and Music Festival.  This juried art show and sale is open to artists of all mediums, and those interested in entering are invited to submit images for consideration.

The Festival will run from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1, at Thompson Park in Lincroft.  Besides the art show and sale, the event will feature music and food.  Thompson Park is home to the Park System’s Creative Arts Center, which hosts a variety of fine arts and craft classes throughout the year including ceramics, pottery, jewelry and painting.

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LINCROFT: VISITORS TO PLANET BROOKDALE

TalasnikDonPollardSci-fi author and former Brookdale Community College faculty member William Jon Watkins (below) makes a BCC homecoming on Tuesday night, as part of the Visiting Writers Series. Sculptor Stephen Talasnik visits November 12. (Top photo by Don Pollard)

william_john_watkins_mxA homecoming hero who sculpts works of imagination in prose and poetry — and a visiting visionary who spins stories out of bamboo — are among the new and returning faces on campus as Brookdale Community College continues its fall 2015 slate of special-guest Writers and Artists events.

It begins Tuesday night, when science fiction specialist/ once-and-future poet William Jon Watkins beams back to BCC (where he served on the school’s founding faculty before retiring) for a reading and discussion hosted inside the Warner Student Life Center building. Read More »

MIDDLETOWN: DIG DEEP FOR PHOTO SHOW

pattywhelanImages of Deep Cut Gardens, such as Patty Whelan’s AFTER THE RAIN, are welcomed for the County Park System’s annual photo show, going up in January 2016 (with a submission deadline of November 20).

Press release from Monmouth County Park System

Calling all nature photographers: The Monmouth County Park System is looking for entries for its Weather or Not photography exhibit, to be presented in January 2016 at Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown. The exhibit will look at some of the many ways the weather transforms Deep Cut’s gardens and its elements, whether it be the glistening rays of sunshine or the raindrops falling. Professional and amateur photographers 18 years and older are invited to submit images for consideration into the show. The cost to enter is $10 per person; maximum of two entries (acceptance into the show is not guaranteed, and if selected, only one piece will be exhibited in the show).  All entries must be submitted on CD with completed entry form and fee by November 20, 2015. Rules and entry form are available here  and at the site.

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RED BANK: BASIE PLANS MASSIVE EXPANSION

Basie expansion 1 102615An architect’s rendering of the expanded Count Basie Theatre includes additions on the east and west sides of the existing structure. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1Red Bank’s Vaudeville-era Count Basie Theatre is in for a massive, $20 milion expansion that will turn it into a “creative campus” dedicated to the performing arts in coming years, officials said Monday.

Incorporating adjoining properties acquired in recent years, theater officials plan to “move toward our longtime vision of an entire city block dedicated to the performing arts,” Tom Widener, chairman of the theater’s board of trustees, said in an announcement released Monday morning.

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RUMSON: ADULT BOOKS PROMPT R-FH DEBATE

siobhan fallon hogan 101315With emergency lights on because of a power outage, parent Siobhan Fallon Hogan urged parental choice in the books read by teens. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

[UPDATE: See a statement from playwright Ariel Dorfman about this controversy appended to the bottom of this article.]

HOT-TOPIC_03It was a dimly lit and slightly damp night as about 150 members of the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School community politely debated a stormy issue Tuesday: the place of two works of fiction in the curriculum.

Taking turns at a non-working microphone in an auditorium lit by emergency lights because of a power outage, a number of parents challenged the inclusion of two books on reading lists for juniors and seniors because of their adult themes and coarse language.

Led by former Saturday Night Live cast member Siobhan Fallon Hogan, the objectors insisted they were not out to ban or censor the books, but instead to call for a policy that would allow parents to choose substitute reading material they consider “age appropriate” for their children.

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RED BANK: BASIE OPENS PROJECT FX 2.0

Project-FX-2016-webPress release from Count Basie Theatre

They come from communities all over New Jersey; from high schools and colleges with a campus anywhere in the Garden State. And on April 17, 2016, the Count Basie Theatre spotlights the work of a new generation of directors and documentarians, with the second annual edition of the statewide student film competition known as Project FX.

From now through February 1, 2016, filmmakers affiliated with a New Jersey college or high school are encouraged to enter a short work in the competition, with the winning films in each category receiving a screening and distribution consideration via a new, major film festival coming to the Basie, to be announced in 2016. The event’s grand prize winner will be granted an internship with Sony Pictures Classics, the major distributor headed by Middletown-based Tom Bernard.

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LINCROFT: A HEAVYWEIGHT ART HOMECOMING

schombergRenowned sculptor and former Brookdale Community College professorA. Thomas Schomberg with his most famous commission, Philly’s statue of Sly Stallone’s ROCKY character. 

It’s one of the truly iconic sculpted figures of our modern era — and as befits the media-driven age we live in, the subject isn’t a deity from ancient mythology, nor a Biblical figure, celebrated general or deep-pocketed solid citizen: it’s a bronze likeness of Sylvester Stallone, gloved fists pumping in an evocation of the role that made him a star, underdog boxer Rocky Balboa.

The statue situated just off the famed “Rocky Steps” of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is but the most famous commission (one of two, actually; the two-ton Rocky has a twin at the San Diego Sports Museum) for A. Thomas Schomberg, an internationally renowned sculptor, educator and, for a time in the 1970s, faculty member at the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College. Schomberg returns to BCC as special guest for a 7 pm talk on Monday, October 12 — part of “We/Re/E-merge,” a new exhibition of works by current and former Brookdale personnel that opens with a free public-welcome reception this Friday, October 9.

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MIDDLETOWN: BEYOND THE BIERGARTEN

Edelweiss_Passaic_Bavarian_Folk_Dancers_(6)So what better month to salute the sounds, scenery and seasonal fare of Germany than the Oktoberfest interlude of autumn?

Beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday afternoon, the MAC plays host to a weekend-long Oktoberfestival that “goes beyond the biergarten;” drawing upon the resources of the 23,000-square-foot facility to honor “Das Land der Dichter und Denker” — the country of poets and thinkers.

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RED BANK: BASIE UNVEILS NEW ARTS SPACE

cbpac 092115 2Guests mingled in the new Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy Monday. Below, Yvonne Lamb Scudiery and Mayor Pasquale Menna spoke at the unveiling. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

cbpac 092115 1Old-timers will recall its days as a WaWa, but its future is as a laboratory for the arts.

So say officials at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy about the onetime convenience store that is now the academy’s home.

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