evelyn-leavensThe late Red Bank artist Evelyn Leavens (above) is among the creative people showcased in ‘New Jersey Artists Through Time,’ a new book by Middletown-based author and artist Tova Navarra that inaugurates a series of events at Red Bank Public Library.

NJ Artists Thru TimeA quick flip through the newly published New Jersey Artists Through Time reveals a number of creative people whose lives and work were well known here on the Greater Red Bank Green. There’s the late lifelong Red Banker Evelyn Leavens, profiled here a few years back; Jim Gary, legendary maker of dinosaurs from repurposed auto parts; Mike Quon, painter of stylized local landmarks; plus Riccardo Berlingeri, Grace Graupe-Pillard, Judy Martin, Bob Mataranglo, and George Tice.

They’re all there, sharing space with the likes of superstar sculptor George Segal, celebrated printmaker Jabob Landau, and Emmy-winning courtroom artist Ida Libby Dengrove, in the first such study to come along in over 50 years. The books is just the latest of more than 30 published titles for its Middletown-based author — artist, photographer, educator, journalist, former Asbury Park Press art critic and registered nurse Tova Navarra — and the subject of the first in a new series of free ‘Author Talks’ events at Red Bank Public Library, this Wednesday.

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BunnyThe locally based creators of the book and toy package THE BUNNY WITH THE BASKET AND THE GOLDEN EGG visit Brookdale College this Thursday — and hit the trail for additional appearances in Little Silver and Shrewsbury — during the lead-up to the Easter holiday.

If the secular merchandising part of the Easter holiday is all about the Bunny, then attention must also be paid to the Chicks — specifically, the three Monmouth County women who formed Just Three Chicks LLC, a partnership that’s been hitting the bunny trail of late to promote its first book-and-toy project, Bunny with the Basket and the Golden Egg.

Created by a trio of Rumson-based “authors, moms and friends” (Jennifer Diehl, Shauna Murray and Lisa Rettino), the Bunny with the Basket storybook is illustrated by Little Silver resident Brian Meulener — a former advertising art director and current dental student (his father is Little Silver’s own Dr. Carlos Meulener) who studied art with the late and legendary Evelyn Leavens.

This Thursday, March 19, the Just Three Chicks partners will join the Easter Bunny for a 4 pm in-person appearance at the Scroll and Pen Bookstore (inside the Student Life Center at Brookdale Community College) — part of a busy slate of promotional appearances that range from Manhattan to Manasquan, with upcoming stopovers at Sickles Market (Sunday March 22, 2 – 4 pm), Little Silver Public Library (Tuesday March 24, 3:30 pm) and the Williams-Sonoma store at The Grove in Shrewsbury (Saturday March 28, 10 – 11 am).

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This pencil-on-paper self portrait is among the “new and unknown” works by lifelong Red Banker Evelyn Leavens on display in a solo show that opens Friday evening at McKay Imaging Gallery. (Click to enlarge)

During a 2010 visit to the Red Bank house that she’s lived in since before the Great Depression, Evelyn Leavens told redbankgreen: “I’m still painting; I’m always working… I wouldn’t give it up any more than I would move out of my home.”

That particular article (which can be read here in its entirety) advanced a solo show drawn from the remarkable artist’s 60-year career, a display that we viewed as not so much a retrospective, but “a chance for Leavens to pause for one moment — a moment in which the rest of us can struggle to catch up — before sprinting ahead to the next challenge.”

Sure enough, here in 2012 there’s still much that is new, even much that’s yet to be discovered, in the world of Evelyn Leavens. On Friday evening, April 27, McKay Imaging Gallery brings us up to speed on her recent endeavors, with the opening reception of an exhibit that the octogenarian artist has described as being her “last show” (although, as she told the Two River Times, she’s “never convinced about that”).

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evelyn-leavensEvelyn Leavens with a work-in-progress landscape in her Red Bank studio. (Click to enlarge)


Parked on an easel in the sunlit second-floor studio on the east end of Red Bank, a painting is taking shape, almost in turn-of-the-seasons real time; brashly delineated trees sprouting like declarative statements from the thrill-ride curves of a crazy quilt countryscape.

What might have been the makings of some plein-air jigsaw puzzle in less imaginative hands is becoming, under the artist’s patient eye and brush, a ruckus of bold shapes and colors — a scene in which Nature’s delightfully messy-thorny-scratchy surprises lurk beneath those curvaceous comforts.

Just don’t ask about a title for the canvas, at least not yet. To Evelyn Leavens, the name “Work in Progress” will suit it just fine. In fact, to hear the 85-year-old painter, photographer and instructor tell it, her 60-year career is still just that — a work in progress.

With a major solo exhibit of her paintings on display now at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft — as well as a contribution to a much-anticipated group show opening this weekend at Shrewsbury’s Guild of Creative Art — the work of the locally legendary Leavens has never been more visible and accessible. Still, the artist herself would prefer not to call it a “retrospective.” Think of it as a chance for Leavens to pause for one moment — a moment in which the rest of us can struggle to catch up — before sprinting ahead to the next challenge.

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eyehumlargeChicago artist Jay Ryan’s print promoting HUM AT MILLENNIUM PARK is among the new breed of gig posters on view at Red Bank Frameworks, in a show by the name of EYE + EAR.

• Thursday: LIVE WITH ART, at Butterfly Fine Arts. Natalia Bedaya’s all-new gallery at 116 Broad Street in Red Bank hosts a special reception for interior designers on Thursday evening between 6 and 9p. It’s part of a quarterly “Live With Art” event aimed at bringing fine art to the business environment, and there’s still time to register by emailing

• Friday: SUMMER EXPOSURES at the Art Alliance. Officially closed for the summer as of June 23, the Art Alliance of Monmouth County gallery at 33 Monmouth Street will nevertheless play host to a special warm-weather display of nature images by two area photographers — Stephan Lowy of Oceanport and Eric Sambol of Brick — beginning Friday afternoon. Proceeds of sales from the show benefit the nonprofit Move For Hunger, an initiative that encourages people who are selling their homes and relocating to donate unopened food that they will not take to their new destination, arranging for the items to be delivered to local food banks throughout the country. The exhibit continues through July 13 between the hours of noon and 10p, Wednesdays through Sundays.

• Saturday: RIVER VIEWS Cocktail Gala, Exhibition and Sale. Since one never knows where they’ll be setting up easel next, the Plein Air Painters of the Jersey Coast tend to show up in the most unexpected places. On the evening of Saturday the 26th, they’ll be showing up at an uncharacteristically great-indoors setting on the picturesque banks of the Navesink, as Riverview Medical Center Auxiliary hosts a special 6-9p reception, art show and sale featuring the works of the PAPJC. Spotlighting “paintings of views from some of the most beautiful homes on the Jersey Shore,” the event takes place in the Blaisdell Lobby at RMC, with proceeds from the sale dedicated to the hospital’s Jane H. and John Marshall Booker Cancer Center. Attendees are encouraged to make reservations ($50) at (732)530-2480 or (732)431-1986.

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