Art is back on Asbury

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The Art of Asbury Gallery has reopened after Hurricane Sandy. The Art of Asbury Gallery has reopened after Hurricane Sandy.

OCEAN CITY — It’s been two months since Hurricane Sandy flooded their Asbury Avenue art gallery, but hard work and help from the community, the Ocean City Fine Arts League’s Art on Asbury Gallery is back in business.

Celebrating their grand reopening, the Ocean City Fine Arts League is hosting a meet the artist reception 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11 at the gallery, 608 Asbury Ave.  

Those who volunteered their time and expertise to judge the organization’s art shows throughout the 2012, including Marilyn Brent, Lance Balderson, Michael Waters, Steve Kuzma, Paula Angelo and Judy Scull, will be honored with an opportunity to showcase their work.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Ocean City Fishing Pier, arts league artists will also be showing their paintings of the boardwalk landmark immediately following the reception.   

Gallery President Rae Jaffe said the organization is thrilled to be back.

“We provide a unique service to the community and we are relieved and very lucky that we were able to get back open so quickly,” Jaffe said. “We hope that everyone stops by to help support our local artists. All of the artwork is for sale.”

The Ocean City Fine Arts League and the Cultural Arts Center have been working together to make the second Friday of each month in Ocean City “an evening of art” for the past year, Jaffe said.

The gallery’s story of reopening is similar to that of many Asbury Avenue storefronts.

“It was overwhelming, the flooding was really bad,” Jaffe said. “The water was up to the bottom of the picture windows. I went to see it when the water went down. It was devastating.”

Not only was the building in bad shape, but artwork was also destroyed.

“We got rid of everything,” she said. “A lot of the artwork was on the floor. We lost a lot of beautiful paintings. We had to get what we could salvage out of here very quickly.

“We immediately took down the wallboard, the longer you leave it the worse the problem with mold can get,” she said.

Jaffe said local vocalist Kerry Treasure permitted the Fine Arts League to store paintings  and other items in a spare room in her home for the duration.

“We had all kinds of equipment, it was crazy,” she said. “We needed space for easels, screens, paintings by Joe Kardonne. She was so generous.

“We are all exhausted from this ordeal,” Jaffe said. “We just hope that this never happens again. Thank goodness for flood insurance.”

The gallery opened a few days before Christmas.
“We sold a couple of paintings, but nothing like we would have if we had been open through November and December,” Jaffe said. “We lost sales because we weren’t open.”

Jaffe said the Fine Arts League is looking for grant money to help compensate for lost time. Meanwhile, people have been donating to the organization.

“We do fundraisers. A lot of people have donated money and paintings,” she said. “People have been very generous and we are very appreciative of their efforts.

“We do a lot of community outreach. Members of the Arts League teach art at Gilda’s Club, helping cancer patients. We work with developmentally-disabled students from the Arc of Atlantic County.”

Jaffe said the economy has taken a toll on the gallery in recent years.

“In some areas, like Charleston, the art market is very strong,” she said. “Paintings go for a couple thousand dollars. It’s different here. There is a lot of great art to be had for great prices.”

Artists, she said, create and paint “because they have to.”

“They’re not motivated by money. It’s that inner calling to express themselves; that’s what makes them paint,” she said.

After Sandy, things are slowly returning to normal, she said.

“It’s nice to have everything back to normal, or almost normal,” Jaffe said.

There is one thing that the Fine Arts League could use, however.

“We need a vacuum cleaner,” she said. “Our vacuum got lost in the flood. So if anyone has a vacuum they could donate, we would be very grateful.”  

For more information, call 814-0308.

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