LONGPORT — The Longport Public Library became more than a place to borrow books Friday; it became a showplace where patrons can view the work of local artists.

Under the direction of manager Ricky Gerhardt, the library held the grand opening for its new art gallery Nov. 3 along the back wall of its space at Borough Hall, 2305 Atlantic Ave.

The gallery, which will feature the work of local artists, opened with an exhibit by  Longport resident Teresa Burleson.

"I'm excited to be the first to exhibit here," she said. "I've been an artist in one form or other my entire life."

Burleson's work reflects the environment of Longport — sand, surf, sunsets and other scenes.

A self-taught artist who works in oils, Burleson said she never knows what she will paint until the paint hits the canvas. She takes inspiration from the bay and ocean, which fill her heart with creativity, she said.

"My work is a reflection of the energy contained in the universe and it comes from the soul," she said. "God and the universe inspires me to do my work."

One painting, "Vortex of Joy," depicts a seascape and behind it, a circular vortex that pulls energy from the cosmos, she said.

Burleson said she likes to use multiple layers of paint.

"I keep painting until I get it right," she said.

Mya Macko of Linwood said she enjoyed the exhibition.

"Her work is beautiful and very creative. You can see that it really comes from her heart," she said.

Burleson’s artwork, 16 pieces in all including several painted furniture pieces, will be on display through the end of December and can be viewed during normal library hours as long as there is no library program in progress, Gerhardt said.

The featured artist for January and February is Gloria Merilson, who died in 2005. She won many awards for her impressionist florals, landscapes and character studies, according to the library.

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