Art and Decor Welcomes New Artists

Jul 04, 2018
Photo by: Pat Johnson Nita Shapiro (back row, left) with her daughter Rhoda Shapiro and daughter-in-law Stephanie Tuzzeo plus grandchildren Joey Tuzzeo, 8, Bennie Shapiro, 6, Henry Shapiro, 3, and Leo Tuzzeo, 6.

Nita and Jeff Shapiro, owners of Art and Décor at Surf City, welcome three new artists to their gallery, gift store and studio.

Art and Décor has been at its present location for four years and in Surf City for a total of 12. “Ninety percent of what we sell is original art made by local artists on LBI and Manahawkin,” said Jeff.

Within its walls, Art and Décor has a myriad of clever and whimsical artworks that attract repeat customers from year to year. “We have a following of customers within a mile radius and homeowners from the north end of the Island. “Nita, Karen (Battle) and Connie (Beggs) also do custom work. They will come to your house and decorate.”

Karen Battle calls herself a mixed media artist because she will turn anything into a work of art. That includes chalk painted furniture that is sold in the shop or also painted on site if the piece is too large to move. “I used to use oil and acrylic paints for furniture, but chalk paints are phenomenal,” said Battle. “Whether you want shabby chic or otherwise, they give a smooth finish and can be layered for depth and dry in one day. That’s the beauty of it.”

As Shapiro said, Battle will work on kitchen cabinets and furniture in the customer’s home. But that’s not all she does. Battle knows the LBI season is short and has created custom mermaid T-shirts, art from driftwood (“people love the Barnegat Lighthouses,” she said), glass art and mosaics, canvas paintings and beer coasters from real beer bottles. “These are great men’s gifts,” she noted. One of her delightful adaptations of the sea glass “phenomenon” is transforming bottles into sea glass by using a special paint –they look like they tumbled in the surf.

Artist Linda Storione from North Beach has taken up paint brushes in retirement. “I started painting late in life and I love it,” said Storione. She especially likes painting boats and shore scenes, such as her “Lady Lifeguard” and “Viking Village” canvases show. “I’ve been coming to LBI for 40 years and there are so many great artists here; we are so lucky to be here.”

Annie Machotka said she started making jewelry in silver but found it was an expensive proposition so she moved on to making relief sculptures in metal. “They are all hand-riveted from new materials,” she said. Her favorite subjects are sand castles and shells.

Nita Shapiro is well known for her paintings of beach scenes and mosaic pieces but has recently become enamored of painting on dune fence. “These are very popular,” she noted. “I have to keep painting to keep them in the store! The large paintings of wispy brush strokes combine the rustic feel of dune fence with the joyous whimsy of a day at the beach.

Shapiro and Battle offer workshops in painting, glass mosaics, mixed media wall-hangings and wood collages every day in the summer, indoors or out depending on the weather and customers’ wishes.

Other artists who exhibit at Art and Décor include Connie Beggs with her photos of the seaside and far-flung places, photographer Bill Jones, Kathy Traveline and her fused glass garden stakes, Liz Coats’ copper mobiles and jewelry, Kate Bulbenko’s wood and canvas shore scenes, stained glass by Lorna Jensen, pottery by Reni Okun, jewelry by Hope Clementson, Anita Pheil’s custom-decorated jackets and jewelry, scented soaps by Le Ann Laboy, signs and jewelry by Sandy Garbrandt and bangles by Karen Jordan that benefit the Autism Foundation.

— Pat Johnson

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