It’s been a while since our last visit to the McKay Gallery, an interval that seems to have coincided with the entirety of winter. Were Bob & Liz McKay in hibernation, or were we?


Never mind: winter is over. The calendar says it, the air and trees are beginning to reluctantly agree, and the debut of a new exhibit upstairs at 12 Monmouth Street seals it.

Why? Because McKay openings are, in some corners, not only emblematic of the vitality of Red Bank’s art scene, but perhaps the finest forum for expressing it. People come out, climb the stairs, mingle in close quarters over plastic cups of wine and discuss pictures, among other topics. And before they’ve made it back down to the sidewalk, they’re looking ahead to the next one.

The latest McKay show opens tomorrow night and runs through April 14. It features the work of Geanna Merola, who often makes “photograms,” or cameraless images created by laying objects directly onto photo paper and exposing them to light.

Her show, ‘Luminance & Order,” features a number of photograms of glass shards worn down by ocean waves and sand. The effect, Merola says in a prepared statement, is to “make them appear sensuous and mysterious, often resembling x-rays or artifacts from an archaeological dig.”

Also included are montage-like images of bottles created by slicing and rearranging negatives and then making contact prints.

The bottles, says Merola, “were found in the sandy soil beneath my studio while excavating during renovation. Over time they have acquired a soft patina of dirt and sand. They have become artifacts, which have been discovered and classified in a visual way.”

Given that bottles serve as source material for the sea-ground bits of glass, says Merola, the images “close a conceptual circuit.”

Merola has a home in Ocean Grove and teaches photography and the history of photography at Brookdale Community College. She’s shown her work internationally.

Now, she closes a circuit with a show hosted by two graduates of the Brookdale photography program: Liz & Bob McKay. And art lovers get to start a new, seasonal circuit.

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