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leslies_sentinels“Sentinels” by Leslie Backlund whose works will be among those displayed Sunday at Shrewsbury’s Guild of Creative Art.

The virtual Art Walk is back on redbankgreen as February pops from the groundhog-hole with a newfound momentum toward those first gloriously slushy days of the long-awaited Big Thaw. Like charging into a snowdrift and hoping for the best, we proceed apace — and if the walking’s still a bit slippery out there, we did mention that we’re kicking it “virtual” in here.

This weekend brings an annual event that, while it doesn’t claim to compete for attention with the Super Bowl, remains an eagerly anticipated seasonal signifier around the greater ‘green. Hosted at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft and presented by the CBA Mother’s Club, the 36th Annual CBA Professional Art Show and Sale brings together some 100 pro artists from all over the region for a fundraiser that kicks off with a preview reception tonight. Tickets for the 7p event ($40 in advance, $50 at the door) benefit the school and include hors d’oeuvres, wine/beer open bar, live music, first dibs on all artworks offered for sale, plus unlimited return visits for the duration of the weekend.

The show continues Saturday and Sunday between 10a and 4p, with $5 admission once again dedicated to special event programs at CBA. There’s a 50/50 raffle, drawings for featured art works and refreshments available for purchase from “the unique Artist’s Palette Café.” Take it here for full details — and take it ’round the corner for more arty action.

wayne-lermanArea architect Wayne Lerman displays his colorfully creative side, in a show of paintings that opens February 12 at Joel McFadden Designs.

SATURDAY: Opening Reception at the Art Alliance. If it’s the first weekend of the month, it must be time for a fresh new exhibit at the Art Alliance of Monmouth County — and here in February, the all-volunteer co-op gallery in downtown Red Bank rolls out a dual-themed show centering on “Black & White” and “Original Artists’ Books.” An opening reception will be presented between 6 and 9p on February 5 — with February’s featured window artist and judge being Red Bank’s own Katie Ann Stone, a Tyler grad (and conductor of art classes at Thompson Park in Lincroft) who uses clay, encaustic, oil and pencil to “convey a distinct perception of the world around her and her emotions in it.”

SATURDAY: The Puzzle Installation at Middletown Arts. As the legend goes, it was the Monmouth County Arts Council’s Sandy Taylor who — in puzzling over an idea for a group project that would incorporate young artists’ individual “beautiful stories about life and love” within a larger piece of work — came up with the notion for the Puzzle Installation and Collaborative Project. Put into effect at several local schools and Monmouth County Library branches during 2009 and 2010, the project (co-conceptualized and coordinated by Brooklyn-based artist Tim Kelly) was a centerpiece of the MCAC’s annual Teen Arts Festival last year. Comprising hundreds of custom-decorated, 24″x24″ foamcore jigsaw puzzle pieces, the result is he product of an ongoing series of “Art Is Good” workshops that are expected to result in the Big Puzz’s expansion to more than 5,000 component contributions. On February 5, the installation comes to the Middletown Arts Center (MAC). Artists and non-artists alike are invited to grab a blank puzzle piece and take part in the project while it remains on display at the MAC through July 1 — and whence it travels to its final installation in NYC next year.  A Saturday evening reception from 6 to 9p features live music (by world fusion band Monkeys in the Dark), refreshments (by Surf Taco and Rita’s Italian Ice), and an “Art is Good” puzzle-making workshop.

SUNDAY: THE WORLD AROUND US at The Guild. Here in the mini-est of months, Shrewsbury-based Guild of Creative Art is thinking in “mini-show” mode, with a main-lobby exhibit of images by photographer Al Goldstein (no, not that Al Goldstein; this Al Goldstein) called “The World Around Us: People.” The local lensman will host a reception on February 6 between the hours of 3 and 5p, and it’s paired with a display (in the Guild’s studio gallery) of student and instructor work from Leslie Backlund‘s Drawing and Painting workshop. The exhibit continues through March 2 during regular gallery hours.

SATURDAY, February 12: Second Saturdays at Joel McFadden Designs. The series of monthly art events at Joel McFadden Designs continues this weekend, with an artist who claims to be relatively new at the painting game — West Long Branch architect Wayne Lerman, whose vibrantly colorful abstract images possess the windows-and-doors geometry of a cityscape unfettered by laws of gravity or zoning. The artist is expected to be on hand from 7 to 9p this Saturday at the White Street showroom, with attendees treated to that all-important wine and cheese, and Lerman’s work remaining on display during regular business hours through March 9.

SATURDAY, February 12: STORYTELLERS IN CLOTH at Red Bank Library. Three borough-based outposts of culture get together on February 12, when the Red Bank Public Library plays host to an event that’s being presented by Frank Talk founder (and author and educator and local broadcaster) Gilda Rogers, abetted by the folks at Two River Theater Company. Featured as part of the observance of Black History Month, “Storytellers in Cloth” is a display that examines the centuries-old African American quilting tradition in America — from the days when slaves preserved and passed along their cultural heritage by crafting quilts from discarded clothing and feed sacks, to the people who keep the folk art tradition alive in the 21st century. In a free event scheduled from 2:30 to 5:30p, Rogers will be introducing a presentation by Storytellers in Cloth founders Gloria Douglas and Michelle Lewis — and, as an extra added attraction, a troupe of TRTC players will perform a play reading that pays tribute to the quilting tradition.

uslanarchieHe may be producer of the BATMAN movies, but what he REALLY wanted to do was write Archie comics — and on February 12, Michael Uslan returns to Monmouth County to discuss and sign copies of ARCHIE MARRIES…, at NovelTeas in Red Bank.

SATURDAY, February 12: ARCHIE’s pal Michael Uslan at NovelTeas.He’s a hotshot Hollywood producer, by virtue of his involvement with the latter-day Batman movies (not to mention the National Treasure franchise) — but Michael Uslan is no dilettante stowaway aboard the comics-to-film bandwagon. A native of Deal, the veteran writer and world-class comicollector (who famously donated his massive stockpile to his alma mater of Indiana University) is an accredited educator on the subject of “sequential art storytelling,” whose academic career served as an unorthodox stepping-stone to the once-reviled field of Mylar-bagged modern mythology.

If any comic book character gives Batman and Superman a run for their longevity, it’s Archie and his gang of eternal teens from Riverdale, USA. In 2009, Uslan was invited by the publishers of the perennial best selling series to script a miniseries that postulated what would have happened if Archie married raven-haired rich kid Veronica…or, if he had walked the aisle with golden girl-next-door Betty. The result, collected in hardcover as Archie Marries . . ., will be the subject of a February 12 event at Kim Widener‘s NovelTeas Authors Aromas & Gifts on Bridge Avenue. From 3 to 5p, Uslan will discuss and sign copies of the book (illustrated by veteran Archist Stan Goldberg), with signing copies available at the tea room/ cultural hangout for $25. A special auction will also be featured, for an autographed copy of Queen Latifah‘s latest book, Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom — with all auction proceeds (and a portion of book sales) dedicated to the locally based nonprofit Friends of the Books and Beyond Project.

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