LBI Artists Open Studio Tour Brings Art to the Fore

By PAT JOHNSON | Jun 28, 2017
Photo by: Pat Johnson Cathleen Engelsen opened her studio in Surf City with her recent painting ‘19th Street Moonshine.’ Her daughter Elizabeth Engelsen Smith and grandson Oliver are visiting from Scotland.

Traveling along the Boulevard on Long Beach Island last Saturday and Sunday on the LBI Artists Open Studio Tour was a time for visiting the studios of old friends with new work and meeting artists new to the self-guided tour.

First stop had to be Cathleen Engelsen in her historic home on 19th Street in Surf City. Engelsen has been painting the historic and iconic images of the shore for over 30 years and is sensitive to what the art-buying public wants in terns of nostalgia and love of the Island. Her latest work brought her close to home: “19th Street Moonshine,” a painting in blue and violet of the bay side.

“I know a number of people who love to bike ride at night on the Island, and they really relate to this picture,” said Engelsen. The day was made more special by the visit of Engelsen’s daughter Elizabeth Engelsen Smith and her grandson Oliver, from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Around the corner from Engelsen was Lori Bonnani’s home studio, right on the bay at 20th Street. Bonnani has been experimenting with her oil painting technique, adding more paint and loosening up her brushstrokes. She said she had learned this from taking painting classes with Franny Andahazy, the owner of Solace Studio and Gallery in Surf City.

One painting in particular, “Egret,” showed the ruffled effects of the wind on a snowy egret’s mating plumage. Her painting “Tern, Tern, Tern” was another striking work of local bird life. Bonnani is also experimenting with encaustic painting and is loving working in a new medium.

At Solace Gallery, Andahazy was doing her job promoting the 15 artists she represents; half of them are from New England, and half are local, including Bonnani, Lisa Budd and Linda Ramsay. Andahazy acknowledged that her oil painting classes (during the off-season) are tough.

“I push them to loosen up and tell them not to think they will leave with a finished painting, though some of them do.”

Andahazy’s own paintings are on display, and on July 14 she and artist Linda Kelly will exhibit still life paintings in the “Summer Stills” exhibit. She painted “Roomful of Blues” this past winter while she was in Boston, and snow was on the ground.

“There’s a group of bottles I have in the house that I paint and the window behind them shows a beach scene. I was dreaming of LBI, and visions of summer.”

Solace Studio and Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily after July 4, and Andahazy wants folks to know that she lives next door and will open the gallery by appointment.

“If people want to come by and have cocktails in the gallery to view the artwork before going out to dinner some evening, give me a call (609-848-9702) and we can arrange it.”

The most surprising art studio stop was Ginny Friedman’s Studio on 16th Street in Surf City. Friedman was not selling her artistic creations, but introducing the art of botanical jewelry and her love of making and decorating miniature buildings.

The first floor of the ultra-modern house was professionally set up as a gallery tour starting with Friedman’s studio, where she created posters to explain the process of making botanical jewelry. Botanical jewelry is created from dried plant material that is painted, stained or left natural to simulate traditional jewelry. On her instructional poster she shows how she takes a pea, shapes it, paints it and then drills a hole to create a “pearl.” “Repeat 160 times,” she writes.

She had a tray of natural items – lentils, peas, rice, dried fruits – that children (and adults) could run their hands through to feel the textures. “I want them to see how beautiful a lentil is,” she said.

Botanical jewelry is not meant to be worn. It’s created to be exhibited in flower shows and for contests. Friedman won the contest at the Philadelphia Flower Show in 2004, ’05 and ’06. In 2006, she won the Grand Sweepstakes Trophy by getting the highest number of points from a combination of her floral designs and her botanical jewelry.

Her “Nefertiti Necklace,” which was created by making micro-mosaics from pieces of wheat and corn husks, helped to win her the grand sweepstakes trophy.

“I stopped competing because I was asked to be on the committee and it wouldn’t be fair to the competition.”

Her other passion is creating miniature rooms and shops out of balsa wood and natural materials. These are such fun: a “Vineyard” outside bar, high-end perfume and Gucci luggage shop and Mod handbags shop made of clay make up her own Rodeo Drive; a “Flower Shop” combines her love of building miniatures with her love of flowers.

Another friend who has been painting on LBI for over 40 years is Roberta Giannone. Her paintings of the Barnegat Lighthouse, surf boats, and weathered houses with surf and sand have a sun-bleached quality all their own. She started as a young girl in her mother, Gwen Sweeten’s, Gull Cottage art gallery in Viking Village.

Giannone’s husband, Wayne, also makes the rustic driftwood and reclaimed frames that enhance the paintings, but Roberta makes the wooden Barnegat Lighthouse wall hangings she sells.

Her latest oil painting, “Cedar Run Dock Road,” was painted from photos she took of the small houses there after Superstorm Sandy.

Connie Pinkowski of LBI DreamMakers in Barnegat Light is a photographer who with her husband has a concierge and rental business that helps support her art. Pinkowski is exhibiting the photos she took in Cuba. Last Nov. 25, the Pinkowskis’ vacation in Cuba was disrupted when long-time revolutionary leader and former president of Cuba Fidel Castro died.

“We were immediately kicked out of our hotel to make room for visiting dignitaries. We were housed with a Cuban family. We lived shoulder to shoulder with the Cubans. We did not speak Spanish, and the woman whose house it was did not speak English, but I found out that chocolate is a universal word. The lovely woman made me hot chocolate every evening.

“My take-away was that we take everything for granted in this country. They have nothing. You go in the stores and there is nothing to buy. I wish Home Depot would send them a couple hundred toilet seats!

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but I thought it was very depressing. They have no supplies, nothing. They are totally cut off from the world.”

Her photos do not appear depressing, as she has a fine eye for the textures and colors of the crumbling buildings in Havana. The problem was all the buildings were crumbling, said Pinkowski.

Also showing at her gallery are John Hem’s collages, lovely paintings enhanced by photo clippings.

At Wildflowers Too! in Barnegat Light, the gallery was preparing for the opening of K.P. Coogar’s exhibit of sunset and morning paintings of the surf and environs of the “Light.” This is his first exhibit in three years, and the oversized oil paintings are structured almost like stained glass. The gallery has a wide variety of art and artists, including Susan Barnes and Joyce Lawrence.

Ceramic artist and potter Sandra Kosinski was set up in a tent outside the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies. She also loves miniatures and had a showcase full of mini-vases, pots and platters she had made for sale. Kosinski said she’s been making raku ware for 30 years or more and gave a mini-lecture on the subject. “Raku is an ancient way of firing pottery outside in a pit, although we use a 55-gallon drum, and different surface textures are created depending on the materials used. There’s always an element of surprise. And there is fire, so it’s exciting.”

There are different ways to decorate raku. The first is to paint the pot with glazes and wrap it with sawdust or newspaper so that the glaze reacts with these elements. Sagar-fired raku does not start with a painted glaze, but chemicals may be sprinkled on the pot or an iron or copper wire might be wrapped around it, or feathers or horsehair to give a smoke pattern. Naked raku begins by painting the ware with clay slips of different colors, firing it and then cracking the slip glaze off to reveal the patterns. These are all lovely, natural looking earthenware.

Learning something new, meeting new people and just catching up with your favorite artists, plus finding that perfect piece of art for home or office are the reasons to take the annual LBI Artists Open Studio Tour. There were many more stops to make, but the purpose of the self-guided tour is to allow for just as many or as few stops as energy or vacation plans allow.


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