ART AND ABOUT: SOME GRIEF, SOME JOY

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Works in multiple media — created by anonymous young participants in the Children’s Art Therapy Program at Riverview Medical Center — are spotlighted for one week only at McKay Imaging Gallery.

By TOM CHESEK

For more than a generation now, the Children’s Art Therapy Program at Riverview Medical Center has been helping the youngest members of families impacted by death and serious illness, by providing a beneficial and creative way to channel and express their feelings — using a daub of paint, a glob of clay or a tub of crayons.

Initiated in 1980 by veteran nurse Helen Riegelman, the program was actually one of the first of its kind in the Northeast. And 30 years on, the CAT program has quietly helped more than 2,500 kids whose lives have been touched by sudden loss, chronic or terminal illness. Here in the 30th anniversary month of October, program coordinator Jane Weinheimer has made things a little less quiet — with several public exhibits drawn from the CAT’s private files, including a display that briefly takes over the walls of one of Red Bank’s most eclectic galleries.

It’s one of nearly a dozen art events happening in and around the greater ‘green in October, and we’ve got the full rundown.

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Paintings by gallery artist and ordained minister Gerda Liebmann (right) will be part of a special public event on Saturday, at Red Bank Community Church.

This Thursday evening from 7 to 10p, photographers and curators Robert and Elisabeth McKay host a reception for the group exhibit A Portrait of Grief: Art Expressing Heartbreak Healing & Hope, at McKay Imaging Gallery, the walk-up studio space (at 12 Monmouth Street) established by the husband/wife team of as a venue for promoting local interest in photography as fine art.

Followers of the McKays’ too-infrequent forays into gallery shows know that Bob and Lis have often expanded the boundaries of their studio’s mission, by featuring some first-rate displays of paint, printmaking and even PlastiKote art. For A Portrait of Grief, the space will offer a display of paintings, sketches, sculptures and crafted items, all of them created by anonymous artists who ranged in age from four-and-a-half to fourteen at the time. They run the gamut from earnestly watercolored images of loved ones as winged angels, to three-dimensional pieces that “externalize their pain, hopes, questions, and fears.”

In a statement, Bob McKay praised the program and its participants (several of whom will are expected to attend), observing that “We all have things that help us get past the painful parts of everyday life. Children have fewer outlets for this and less of a capacity to understand their pain. When talking about these things is difficult, art can be the perfect means of self-expression.”

The Portrait of Grief exhibit will also be on view October 20 and 21 from 1p to 7p, or by appointment (call 732-842-2272 for more info). A “Buddies Exhibit” of material from the CAT Program is on display at Anthropologie in Shrewsbury through Friday during store hours — and an “Understanding Illness” exhibit continues through October inside the Betty White Gift Shop at Riverview.

NOW through October 27: 18th Annual Open Juried Show at the Guild. It’s the biggest show of the year at Monmouth County’s longest-running artist collective — and the annual event remains on display (with category award winners prominently featured) at the Guild of Creative Art headquarters on Broad Street, Shrewsbury. Stop in the studio this Saturday for a special “Fundamentals of Pastel” student exhibit reception (3 to 5p) hosted by Colts Neck pastel specialist Sangita Phadke, whose luscious and eye-poppingly photorealistic studies of flowers, fruits and vegetables are a meal in themselves — and check out the next group show The Healing Power of Art, when it opens October 29.

NOW through October 31: REDSTOCK at Butterfly Fine Arts. Described as “a real gift from local artists to Red Bank people and visitors,” this first in what’s planned as an annual happening at Natalia Bedaya‘s recently inaugurated gallery (116 Broad Street) boasts a display of paintings and sculpture by “local area artists ONLY,” who are “inspired by the life style and nature of our region.”

WEDNESDAY: Gallery Talk by Megan Ruisch. As part of the New Jersey Emerging Artists series, the Monmouth Museum continues their ongoing exhibit of 52 Black and White illustrations (digitally printed from india-ink originals on Bristol board) by Beachwood-based Ruisch. The artist — whose clean, sharp images evoke some of the best graphic novel stylists — visits the Museum (located on the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College) for a free 7p discussion on October 13. Exhibit continues during normal museum hours through October 24; check website for admission info.

SATURDAY: Roots, A tribute to Lee Liebmann at RBCC. Pastor Lenny Liebmann of the Red Bank Community Church pays special tribute to his father, 86 year old Lee Liebmann, with an all-welcome event at the house of worship (in the Prown’s building on Monmouth Street). Featured is a 3p interview/ audience Q&A examining the elder Liebmann’s background as a refugee from Nazi Germany, to his later life in America, and on display from 1p is Wurzeln, an art exhibit depicting scenes of his life’s journey — as painted by Lee’s daughter in law, Swiss-born artist and RBCC co-pastor Gerda Liebmann. Additional exhibit hours are offered from 1 to 3p on October 23 and 24, or by request for schools, house of worship and other organizations.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21: Art Alliance Membership Event at Jamian’s. A couple of Monmouth Street neighbors get together for an evening of art, music, refreshment and community, when the nonprofit Art Alliance of Monmouth County presents a membership drive from 6 to 9p at one of our favorite cultural watering spots, Jamian’s Food and Drink. Artists and aficionados of all disciplines are welcome at the event, with your hosts including Alliance president Elaine Shor, surfing restaurateur Jamian LaViola, and Jamian’s bartender/art curator Travis Radcliffe, the borough-based painter whose work has been likened here on redbankgreen to Vermeer and Hopper. There’s live music as well from Squarehead, and a $10 donation helps to support the all-volunteer Art Alliance gallery’s operations (while providing sought-after access to appetizers and drink specials). Participants will have an opportunity to receive a hand painted bag from an Art Alliance artist for an additional donation of $25 — and while you’re enjoying the scene on Monmouth Street, take a stroll down the block to number 33, where the gallery’s current show (The Eyes Have It and Chaos, with featured window display by Colombian-born painter Miguel Cardenas) stays open late for the occasion. It’s just 30 bucks a year to join the Alliance, and if you’re headed to Jamian’s on October 21, there’s probably no more better way to find out about this great part of local culture.

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The work of lyrical realist painter John Powell is spotlighted for two special nights at Beacon Fine Arts Gallery, with the artist scheduled to be in attendance on October 22 and 23.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22 and SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23: John Powell at Beacon Fine Arts. It’s being called “our biggest event of the year” by the folks at Red Bank’s Beacon Fine Arts Gallery — a night so big, in fact, that it takes two nights to do it justice. On the penultimate weekend of October, the showcase gallery and art emporium at 61 Monmouth Street hosts the fervently followed “lyrical realist” painter and world traveler John Powell in an exhibition featuring 40 of his acclaimed still lifes and garden scapes, with the California-based artist scheduled to appear in person both Friday (7 to 10p) and Saturday (5 to 9p). Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be available to attendees, and signed copies of the Powell retrospective volume Visions of Paradise may be in the cards as well.  RSVPs are encouraged by October 18, to 732-936-0888.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24: BRIDGING THE GAP art exhibit and fundraiser. The local landmark Bahrs Restaurant in Highlands is the setting for a display (with catered reception) of painted and photographic images using the Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge — both the old and the new — as the subject, in addition to other local coastal scenes. it’s a benefit for the Sandy Hook-based New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (until very recently known as the NJ Marine Sciences Consortium); a $40 ticket includes appetizers and beverages, and reservations can supposedly be made at the Sea Grant website, although we’re not seeing it.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29:  WHAT I DID THIS SUMMER at Monmouth Museum. The Monmouth Museum hosts a public invited opening reception (from 5 to 7p) for a group show of works by faculty members of Brookdale Community College. Exhibit continues during normal museum hours through November 28; check website for admission info.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30: Culture and Cuisine at David Burke Fromagerie. It’s a field trip for foodies and ‘ficionados of art, presented by the Monmouth Museum — with a three course Fall lunch event at the landmark Rumson restaurant, capped with a private tour of master chef David Burke‘s art collection, conducted by art appraiser Marianne Ficarra. Reservations ($85 per person) and additional info at 732-747-2266.

NOVEMBER 6: Pho-TA-TAgraphy for Booker Cancer Center. A bit further afield of the ‘green for this one — in fact, down to Asbury Park, where photographer John Viggliano‘s recently opened artspace The Gallery 13 is host venue for a special show in benefit of the Jane H. and John Marshall Booker Cancer Center at Riverview Medical Center. Playfully and pinkishly titled Pho-TA-TAgraphy, it’s a group show “dedicated to capturing the innate beauty of one of the world’s most beautiful natural creations  — the female form.”  Some of the area’s linchpin lenspersons are expected to take part and “celebrate the soft strength, glorious contours and sensual physical elements” of the feminine nude, with a bust-in-show prize awarded by the gallery, and a portion of proceeds going to the Booker facility’s ongoing assistance to area residents who suffer from breast and other forms of cancer. In the meantime, enjoy the gallery’s current show — Blood, Brains & Bodies, a tie-in to the annual New Jersey Zombie Walk that lurches to a climax with a big post-Walk closing party on October 30.