lairds-in-winterMary Ann Goodwin’s “Laird’s in Winter” is but one of the applejack artworks of local scenery now on display at Middletown Main Library.

Babies, it’s cold outside as we suit up for a December edition of our monthly artwalk through the winter-greying ‘green. Cold enough to freeze your wine and cheese, for sure. Cold enough to geler your Giclée, and to turn a Plein Air painting session into just plein hell.

Fortunately, the galleries and public spaces of greater Red Bank offer up some warm and welcoming refuges from both the cold and the cacophony of the calendar-year caboose. So if squinting at your next-door neighbor’s hi-wattage holiday display isn’t doing it for you, join us for a change of scenery that begins just past that virtual velvet rope.

hookbccYes, the object at left measures 100 SQUARE INCHES — otherwise the teak sculpture would NOT be featured in this month’s group exhibit at the Art Alliance of Monmouth. At right, twelve good reasons why Brookdale Community College’s (soon to end) show is OFF THE HOOK — but you’re not.

FRIDAY (December 10): OFF THE HOOK exhibit at BCC. You’ve got one last chance — and we mean it — to take in this student group show at Brookdale Community College; a selection of works produced by the watercolor and acrylic painting classes at BCC’s Sandy Hook outpost, and presented inside the Center for the Visual Arts gallery on the main Lincroft campus. The exhibit, curated by faculty member Amy Faris, remains on display between 9a and 4:30p today — so consider yourselves “not off the hook” until then.

NOW through December 28: 100 SQUARE INCHES at The Art Alliance. Downtown Red Bank’s venerable Art Alliance of Monmouth County has set the bar pretty high over the years, and with its December group show, the artists’ cooperative is holding its membership to a pretty exacting standard. All featured items in this multi-media display must “measure out to 100 inches” — so do the math. Or better yet, relax and enjoy the view inside the greater gallery as well as those ever-changing windows, in which Adam Daniel Murray (an “avid collector and scavenger” whose work “re-imagines the purpose and presentation of expelled domestic material”) challenges your tired old definitions of space, material and context. At the very least, you’ll never look at expelled domestic material the same way again. Exhibits continue through the month during regular gallery hours (Tuesday thru Saturday, from 12 to 4p).

NOW through December 28: Guild Show at Middletown Main Library. The big branch of the MTPL hosts a special guest exhibit for the month of December, organized by the Shrewsbury-based Guild of Creative Art and featuring painted works from a sampling of the hundreds of member creatives in the area’s longest-established art collective (still celebrating its 50th anniversary here in 2010). The display’s on view inside the Community Room during regular library hours (check website for holiday schedule).

redltgThe view from White Street: the photography of the well-traveled Michael Acerra inaugurates a new series of Second Saturday openings at Joel McFadden Designs, while Elwood Howell’s RED is among the paintings on display during an Open House event at Laurel Tracey Gallery.

SATURDAY, December 11: Second Saturdays at Joel McFadden Designs. It’s the first Second Saturday — and if that makes perfect sense, it also starts unofficially on Friday. Beginning this weekend, the award-winning custom jewelry studio at 32 White Street presents the first in what’s projected to be a monthly salon showcase of work by local artists — an open-house sort of affair which is pitched as “the occasion for savoring a glass of fine wine, meeting the featured artist, intense artistic discussion and good company.” For the inaugural Second Saturdays at the Studio offering — an event that actually begins Friday evening, December 10, and includes both Saturday morning and evening drop-in opportunities — globetrotting Monmouth County photographer Michael Acerra is the man of the hour. The grandson of legendary composer and arranger Nelson Riddle displays his acclaimed studies of landscapes, nature, architecture and other “cool stuff” at Joel McFadden Designs through January 11, 2011, with attendees treated to mimosas and pastries this Saturday morning, as well as that all-important wine and cheese on Friday and Saturday night.

SATURDAY, December 11: Open Studio at Laurel Tracey Gallery. While hoofing it on White Street this Saturday afternoon, it’ll behoove you to visit Laurel Tracey Gallery for a bit of “Holiday Cheer” and a Holiday Open Studio event in which the intriguingly “ethereal yet organic” landscape work of Hamptons-based Elwood Howell is spotlighted. Open Studio hours are from 1 to 5p on December 11, with regular gallery hours Tuesday through Saturday (call or email to arrange appointments or check holiday schedule).

attitudeguild“Gray Trees” by Bernadette Sabatini of Sea Bright and “Attitude” by Nanci France-Vaz of Middletown are among the images on display at the Guild of Creative Art’s holiday show, opening this Sunday.

SUNDAY, December 12: Holiday Art Show at the Guild. The aforementioned display in Middletown isn’t the only thing happening with the Guild of Creative Art, as the nonprofit art co-op’s headquarters on Broad Street in Shrewsbury is the setting for an all-members Holiday Show that begins this weekend. The multi-media showcase of paintings, sculpture and photographs (much of it by newly promoted associate and exhibiting members of the organization) opens with a late-afternoon reception on Sunday from 2:30 to 5p; wine and refreshments will be served, and attendees are invited to look in at the Guild studio, where a display of work by Doris Crandall and her “Drawing & Multi-Media” workshop students will be on view. The Holiday Show continues through January 5, 2011; check website or call 732-741-1441 for holiday schedule info.

Through December 23: FLOWERS: THE BEAUTY AROUND US at McKay Imaging Gallery. If you’ve seen the amazing macro-photography nature images of lensman David Mills, you’d swear that the digital prints of his up-close-and-personal flora studies are a set of breathtakingly colorful, carefully composed and highly textured paintings. If you haven’t, you’ve got a few more chances to visit McKay Imaging Gallery, the walk-up studio space (12 Monmouth Street) of photographers and curators Robert and Elisabeth McKay, where the Flowers exhibit remains on view through December 23 during normal gallery hours (Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 7p) because, well, “We could all use a little Spring as Winter approaches.” You can also make a special appointment by calling 732-842-2272.