zebu-artGroveland-based artist Ryan Southerland at Zebu Forno’s first art show Saturday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


The iceberg-sized snowmounds are still here. The temps are near arctic. It’s the winter blahs, perhaps the slowest time of year for action, especially in the arts world. And in the Red Bank sector, not much is doing now.

Or at all, really, in the way of grassroots endeavors to showcase local talent, says Mellisa Pickering, one of the town’s more recognizable faces — and voices, with her Irish brogue — on the coffee scene.

Take those elements and it’s precisely the right time to get something going, said Pickering, who has a graphic design background and a passion for art.

“Red Bank is so quiet right now. I’m sick of waiting for something to happen,” she said. “So we decided to make something happen ourselves.”

The result is a winterlong, and perhaps yearlong, biweekly arts show at Broad Street’s Zebu Forno, where Pickering works. The show kicked off Saturday and continued Sunday.

About a dozen artists showed off their wares, ranging from original paintings, photographs and handcrafted jewelry to niche crafts such as medieval chain armor and trinkets made from recycled materials.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an assembly of artists like this one anywhere else.

“The different talents they do have here is pretty good,” said Krista McCaffery, of Perth Amboy, who was selling jewelry she makes out of sea glass. “It has potential.”

Pickering, with the help of a Craigslist ad, culled a mix of artists both locally and from all over the state to fill Zebu’s recently-completed back room.

The show gave the artists a chance to expose their work at a time when opportunities are few.

“A venue like this, and Mellisa, who wants to support local artists at a very low price, is very helpful, especially in the winter months. ” said Michelle Renee Bernard, an Ocean Grove artist who uses recycled materials to make jewelry and assorted crafts. “This is perfect.”

While the venue may have been perfect, it posed a small problem for Ryan Dougherty, who takes stainless steel and recreates medieval body armor.

“I’m a little worried about the food over there,” he said. “The profits may go right back in.”

Still, like most of the other artists, Southerland said he’d likely be back for the show, which is on a fluid schedule right now, Pickering said.

Originally intended to be a weekly event, held on Saturdays and Sundays, Pickering said coordination may push it to be held every other weekend.

But there’s lot of interest, she said, leading her to believe that rather than running the shows through the winter, she may make it year-round.

“I’ve got three hundred emails,” she said. “We’ll just have to see.”

Anyone interested in learning more of getting involved can email Pickering here.