A BOOK OF LOVE

To those familiar only with the crib notes of her biography, Nadine Goldsmith may be easy to misinterpret.

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A well-off Rumsonite, she was a fixture in charity-ball circles, and after she died of breast cancer in March, 2004 at age 58, there were the obligatory ladies-who-lunch luncheons in her honor. (From a M.A.R. magazine story about one such event, in 2004: “Guests dined on a delicious lunch of traditional salad nicoise accompanied by a crisp Provençal rosé wine served on tables of pink and white gingham.”)

But Goldsmith was also an advertising executive; a wife and mother of three; and a serial volunteer at commitment-demanding institutions such as Rutgers University (her alma mater) and Planned Parenthood.

In a similar vein, it’s tempting to assume that the sketches and paintings Goldsmith produced in the last 16 years of her life were the works of a dilletante. But that expectation is belied by a new book that assembles all her art betwen its covers.

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KITCHEN SPONTANEITY

Some art requires solitude and study and the quiet wait for inspiration. But when a visitor asks Medy Quiroz about how she works, she drags a clattering easel into the middle of her kitchen floor, puts up a large half-finished canvas and goes at it with a wide brush thick with paint.

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After years of dabbling in pastels and fine-art photography, the soft-spoken computer scientist has found the outlet that most fully engages and gratifies her: abstract expressionism, where anything goes. Medy2

“I look at the canvas, and I have no idea what I’m going to do,” she says. “I say, ‘What color do I want to start with today?’ Then I dip my brush and I start moving my arm.”

Quiroz is one of 11 artists whose work will be featured in a show titled “In the Abstract” at the Middletown Township Public Library through Feb 27. An opening reception is scheduled for 2 to 4p tomorrow.

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GIVING A TOP-SHELF CAT SOME SKIN

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Ralph Gatta, aka “Johnny Jazz,” did not set out to become an institution. It was never his intent to transform what had been a simple family-owned butcher shop into a working monument to what he considers America’s greatest art form.

All he wanted, really, was to be able to continue experiencing the wonders of jazz after life threw him a curveball back in 1963. With the death of his father, Johnny Gatta, Ralph’s freewheeling Saturday nights at Birdland and other clubs in New York and Newark came to a sudden halt, as he and his mother, Helen, put in 12, 13 hours a day keeping their Shrewsbury Avenue grocery going.

So onto the turntable in the back room went the LPs. And out of the speakers above the shelves of cereal and canned goods and sacks of rice came Bird, and Miles, and Coltrane. All day long. Sometimes at volumes that Helen thought unnecessarily high. But Gatta couldn’t help himself. This is a man who, at 69 years old, still becomes visibly pumped when he hears a great horn riff and sprinkles his speech with references to “top-shelf cats.”

“The bottom line is, without my mother and the music—the music —I couldn’t have done it,” says Gatta. “I just did it for myself, to tell the truth. Because if you’re going to put music in a store, it wouldn’t be real jazz.”

On Sunday, Feb. 18, Gatta will be honored by The Source, an outreach program for students at Red Bank Regional High School.

Why Johnny Jazz? Not because he’s got anything to do with The Source, exactly. But simply for doing what he’s done, which has been to help preserve an art form by infecting his customers, including generations of kids, with his sense of devotion.

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SHOOTING ROCK FACES

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On an unusually blustery day last week, redbankgreen hovered while photographer Michael Marmora worked on his first magazine assignment: shooting the rock band Bedlight for Blue Eyes for the upcoming debut issue of d. magazine, to be published by Red Bank photographer Danny Sanchez.

The shoot took place in the East Front Street breezeway next to Billy’s Barber Shop, and in a parking lot out back. Afterward, we put Marmora through the 10-question ‘Human Bites’ drill.

Marmora, of Holmdel, is 22, and graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology last spring.

This was your first magazine assignment. Were you anxious?
I was. I still am. I’m probably not going to be relieved until I see it in print. I’m always kind of nervous about first-crack attempts at things. But yeah, I mean, I’m excited.

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ASBURY’S SOFT PATINA, UPSTAIRS

“Some people absolutely love Asbury Park,” Bob & Elisabeth McKay of the McKay Gallery say in a statement about their next show. “Others remember it fondly as they take great care to drive around it.”

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Artists, of course, are among those who can’t get enough of the place. Which meant the McKays had plenty of material to choose from when they decided to feature Asbury Park in their second curated show of urban photographs focused on life in a single city (the first, in September and October, was New York City).

And though the subject matter of a haunted boardwalk environ may seem overly familiar, “it was impossible to predict the beauty and sentiment that the ruinous cast of many of the images would portray,” the couple say.

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STRANGENESS ON A TRAIN

The elusive nature of place, and especially of new destinations, is the subject of a show of 18 photographs by Andi Monick that opens Friday night at the McKay Gallery.

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What links all the images in the show, called “TRANSITion: Scenes From A Moving Train,” is that they were taken by the artist as she rode the rails.

“When traveling, you often compare what you are seeing to your preconceived expectation of it,” Monick says in a prepared statement. “And so it becomes a mix of those things. Something in between. Something concerning the idea of place rather than the place itself.”

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EOA 2 ROCKS THE ‘BURBS

Our apologies, Shrewsbury, for thinking of you only as an uber-suburb. This is not the kind of experience we’re used to having within your staid environs. But it seems you do have the capacity to surprise, you cheeky bedroom community, you.

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Over the weekend, Shrewsbury residents Karen Lovell and Mike DeNardo presented the second annual Evening of Artistry, or “EOA 2: The Rising,” in their home for a gathering of local creative types and select friends.

As they did last year, Karen & Mike transformed their house into a gallery for one night, filling it with paintings, small sculpted pieces and other artworks made by those in attendance. “Bizarro” genre novelist and short-storyist Ray Fracalossy read a piece from his new collection, Tales from the Vinegar Wasteland. The rock band Sheep Bamboo—in which DeNardo mans the keyboards—played a set.

Fracalossy’s the guy in the glasses at far left. Fans of the local psychedelic rock scene of a few years back may recognize him as the lead guitarist in Lord John (MySpace registration required). Clockwise from there are DeNardo; Sheep Bamboo guitarist & singer Barry Roberts; and Karen Lovell.

Want in on next year’s party? Tune into your Muse, and start cozying up to Shrewsbury scenesters Karen & Mike.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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High fives to Peg Riley of Shrewsbury, who was the first to identify last week’s ‘Where.’ It’s a sculpture at the Guild of Creative Art on Broad Street (Route 35) in Shrewsbury, opposite The Grove, and a full view is at left.

The piece is titled “Dancers,” and it’s by Sid Martin, a member of the Guild who died in 1996. His widow, Susan Martin, of Ocean Township, tells us that she and Sid were big fans of the ballet, and that “Dancers” was inspired by Bugaku, the ancient dance and music of the Japanese Imperial Court.

Sid created more than 40 large pieces in a similar style, including a series of geometric forms. The works, which are all fiberglass on styrofoam, can be seen on the grounds of the Monmouth Reformed Temple on Hance Avenue in Tinton Falls.

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This week: a ghostly silhouette in brick, yes. Ahh, but where?

Email your answers, please.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

‘Sue from Fair Haven’ lassoed last week’s ‘Where,’ which turned out to be a bucking bronc that threw a number of readers.

The idyllic image of cows and other livestock in a pasture is from a mural painted on the side of What’s Your Beef restaurant on River Road in Rumson.

“Nice mural, though I don’t necessarily need to be reminded of where my meal comes from right before I eat,” Sue writes. “I also steer (no pun intended) away from restaurants with big steer on the rooftops or comical chickens in their ads.”

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We see your point, Sue. But how do you feel about Charlie the Tuna? See, he wanted to get caught by StarKist, but StarKist wasn’t looking for a hepcat tuna with good taste; they wanted tuna that tasted good. So he was a symbol for what you wouldn’t find in a can of StarKist…

Anyway. Recognize this week’s entry? E-mail your answers, please.

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TENSION FOR THE SHRIMP, MAYBE

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Advance word from the folks at Art Forms Gallery is that artist Stephen Hall creates personal canvases that engage the viewer through tension, mystery, and glimpses of personal demons.

“Images of abstracted shapes, still-life forms, or surreal figurative motifs are rendered as symbolic colors, ambiguous light sources, and spatial dynamics,” the gallery says in a press release.

Yeah, and the “Shark ‘n Shrimp” picture, excerpted at left, is kind of funny, too.

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NYC IN RB

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They’ll be everywhere in coming days, as the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 approaches: images depicting the horror of the attacks, the unspeakable collapses, and the resulting devastation. There will be no shortage of them. They’ll be all but inescapable.

Bob and Elisabeth McKay of McKay Imaging Studio and Gallery wanted to commemorate the anniversary in a different way. They’ve decided instead to “celebrate New York,” says Bob.

Starting Friday, the McKay Gallery, at 12 Monmouth Street, will feature the works of 23 area photographers in a show entitled “New York City.”

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KITTIE PURRS IN RED BANK

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Kittie, an all-female heavy metal band from Canada that has sold more than 1.2 million records, is wrapping up a month of recording at RetroMedia Studios in Red Bank this week.

Though redbankgreen is eternally stupefied by heavy metal—and not in a good way—we were intrigued to learn that Kittie had chosen a studio upstairs from the placid Eurasian Eatery to record songs described on the band’s website as being about “death of one kind or another, be it literally, figuratively, or emotionally.”

Of course, they mean “literal, figurative or emotional,” but never mind that. It turns out that the Monmouth Street studio, owned by John Noll, was selected by Jack Ponti, a former bandmate of the guy who now calls himself Jon Bon Jovi. Ponti lives in the area and is producing Kittie’s fourth album. The as-yet-untitled record is due out next March.

Still, knowing what brought the band here wasn’t enough. We wanted to meet this Kittie. It is, after all, our job.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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David Prown, who is as deserving of the title of Mr. Red Bank as anyone in this town (see Tom Chesek’s profile of him in the current issue of Red Bank Red Hot, if you need more info), is the winner of last week’s Where. He was the first to correctly identify the footprints-in-concrete as being at the intersection of West and Wall streets. Jenn Woods got it, too, but David was there first, so he gets the big attaboy.

Hey, whose footprints are those, anyway?

Now, to this week’s Where. You know you know where this is. Let’s hear your thoughts via e-mail, please.

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‘MILLY MADE IT’

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A couple of impressions linger long after meeting West Side seamstress Milly Hoffman. One is that she’s the embodiment of self-sufficiency. The other is that she’s Martha Stewart on steroids.

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NEW FACE BACKSTAGE

Aaron Posner, a co-founder of Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre, has been named artistic director of the Two River Theatre. He replaces Jonathan Fox, who was with the company for 12 years and left last month.

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The Star-Ledger has a story today. Reporter Peggy McGlone writes:

Posner and two colleagues co-founded the Arden Theatre Company in 1988. He served as its artistic director for 10 years, and in 1998 stepped down to become its resident director, producing plays by Shakespeare, Shaw and Brian Friel. Meanwhile, his freelance directing career took him to the country’s top regional theaters, including the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Seattle Repertory Theatre and the Folger Shakespeare Theatre.

Posner joins a young but thriving theater. Founded by (now executive producer Robert) Rechnitz in 1994, Two River moved to its new $15 million home on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank in May 2005. Since then, its subscription rolls have tripled—from 792 in 2005 to 2,111 for the upcoming season—and total attendance has soared to 29,465, up from 11,729 the previous year…

Rechnitz said seeing Posner’s latest adaptation—”A Murder, A Mystery & A Marriage,” a musical based on a Mark Twain story—sealed the deal.

“Given the heft of Aaron’s résumé — he’s really done all kinds of very serious theater—seeing this play was a delight,” said Rechnitz, who traveled Bethesda, Md., to see the Round House Theatre production. “Not only is he bright, and not only can he handle ‘Macbeth,’ but this play is so charming, so festive, so joyful. It tickled me to pieces.”

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Sue Malmi of River Plaza (Middletown) was the first reader to pin down the location of the Doelger’s Antiques sign. It’s on the south side of the East Side Cafe on Broad Street, next to the Verizon building. So close, in fact, that, you can catch a glimpse of it only from just the right angle while walking or motoring by, and slowly at that.

Sue writes:

Weird coincidence—I noticed the “Doelger’s Antiques” for the first time on Monday as I was parking the car to go the Post Office, followed by lunch at (where else?) the East Side Cafe.

Anybody out there know when the Verizon (or presumably, the New Jersey Bell) building went up? Because its construction left Doelger’s announcing its presence to a brick wall just a few feet away. Which may help explain why Doelger’s, as far as we can tell, no longer has any presence at all.

Congrats to Sue. The answer box is now open for guesses about the location of this week’s Where. Send your entries via e-mail, please.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

Last week’s image shows a coat-of-arms painted on the side of a building at 90 West River Road in Rumson. The property is owned by the Tedesco family, and the building, a turn-of-the-century (19th to 20th, that is) structure, is used as a ballroom. Because, well, every house should have one, right? Perhaps you’ve driven by on those nights when the interior chandeliers light the place up like the Tsar’s Winter Palace.

Marjorie Tedesco informs us that the emblem was painted by her son Andrew, a Manhattan artist whose work includes trompe l’oeil murals in the lobby of the Count Basie Theatre. And what does it signify? Nothing particular to the Tedesco clan, Marjorie tells us. “It was just something I found that I liked,” she says.

Dylan Barlett of Little Silver was the first reader to correctly identify the location. Perhaps the Barlett family crest could be updated to include a mention of this wondrous victor. And maybe the Barletts will want to put one on their ballroom!

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Now, to this week’s photo. In all fairness, we should say that the picture is not taken from the angle most passersby would see it from. But that’s all we’re saying.

As usual, please send your guesses via e-mail.

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LEDGER PACKAGES RED BANK

Today’s Star-Ledger has an eight-page pullout guide to Red Bank in its “Ticket” section, and a more extensive version at its website.

The section doesn’t aim for depth (thus we’re reminded, repeatedly, that 20 years ago the town was known as “Dead Bank”). But it does have overviews of the arts, dining, nightlife and shopping scenes that visitors will find helpful.

Noteworthy is an interactive map that shows the locations of art galleries, restaurants and other attractions. Kudos to the Ledger for making the map so big and for encompassing everything from Two If By Sea and The Little Kraut on the West Side to Design Front on the east. (Rok+Lola, just few doors east of Design Front, may have a differing opinion.)

The package also includes a terrific slideshow of pictures by staff photographer Aristide Economopoulos. They’re not included the dead-trees version.

PICTURES AT NINE EXHIBITIONS

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As a way of decompressing from the workweek, an after-dinner dawdle along the streets of Red Bank on a summer evening is a pretty sure thing. And this Saturday night, lollygaggers can add art appreciation to their wanderings by getting into the flow of ArtWalk, a a semi-annual event in which nine art galleries extend their hours to show off their stuff for visitors on self-guided tours.

It kicks off at 6p, and as always, is open to the public and free.

“It’s a night on which all the art galleries stay open until 9p, instead of closing at their usual 5 or 6p,” says event organizer Heather Malinowski of Laurel Tracey Gallery. “It’s rain or shine. We all pitch in and buy postcards to promote the event and keep our fingers crossed.”

Coinciding with ArtWalk, Laurel Tracey, on White Street, is hosting a reception for a new show called “Garden Party,” featuring landscape works by five painters. Among them is Jon Peters, whose paintings include impressionistic views of some locales familiar to Shore residents and visitors. The show runs through Aug. 12.

A block away, on Monmouth Street, McKay Imaging Studio & Gallery will feature manipulated photos and other works by the late John Kochansky, a Long Branch artist who died suddenly last October at age 47. An opening party is scheduled for Friday night from 7 to 10p. The Kochansky show runs through Aug. 28; all proceeds benefit a scholarship fund for his daughter, Karly.

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NO ORDINARY FRAME OF REFERENCE

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Psychologists call it the “hedonic treadmill,” the seemingly never-ending pursuit of goals and possessions that we think will make us truly and enduringly happy, if only we could attain them.

Having been bombarded all their lives with the messages that they deserve the best and most fulfilled lives, millions of Americans, and no doubt millions more people around the world, find themselves captives of the treadmill. Because no achievement, no acquisition, it seems, can do for them what they thought it would in terms of sustained contentment. The kick just doesn’t come, or if it does, it fades fast.

A whole new field of psychological study has bloomed in the past few decades to explore this disconnect between what we think we want and what actually makes us happy. Meanwhile, until the answers are clear, most of us just get back onto the treadmill in search of the next hit.

Megan Prenderville and Mike Harper of Red Bank work seven days a week at a combined nine jobs. She teaches CPR to medical professionals. It’s freelance work that consumes as many hours as she allows. Mike freelances too, as an illustrator; at the moment, he’s working on a children’s book for Scholastic Inc. He also puts in 15 hours a week at Lowe’s in Eatontown, mainly for health benefits he considers an exceptional bargain for his labors in the paint department. That’s three, but those are their side gigs. Together, Mike and Megan also share duties as self-employed picture framers, antiques sellers and vendors of old-timey fruit-crate labels.

Except for those hours when they slip into Brothers Pizza to decompress with what Megan calls “the four-o’clock guys” over beer and a couple of slices, they seem never to be idle. They might appear, in fact, to be chained to the treadmill.

And yet, you are unlikely to meet a couple with less desire for something other than what’s at hand. Because what’s at hand is what they want. The Ph.D.’s of happinessology should probably pay a visit.

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NO LONGER TORMENTED BY TWEETY BIRD

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Freelance illustrator and painter Wendy Born Hollander reached a career breaking point about six years ago, thanks to a little yellow cartoon bird with a speech impediment that all the world just loves to love.

At the time, she’d been doing work that required her to put trademarked cartoon characters onto kids’ clothing—t-shirts, Barbie swimsuits, jumpers, that sort of thing. Lest anyone think this kind of job is just perfect for a free spirit, there’s not a lot of room for creativity. Rather, there’s usually a strict style guide that has to be followed; what color, how big, doing what. Hollander realized she’d had enough after about 10 years, when she found herself thinking, “If I have to figure out how to put Tweety Bird in a design with a flower one more time, I’m going to cry

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