Long Beach Township — Just because it’s September and the “shoulder season” doesn’t mean we have to go cold turkey from summer on LBI; just step into the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences’ “Plein Air Plus” exhibit and relive those glorious days. During July and August a selected number of artists spent many days and hours painting the beauty of our coastal environment. Artists had a choice to paint completely on site – traditional or classical plein air painting – or make smaller studies and complete their paintings in the studio, a process LBIF calls “plein air plus.”
Approximately 130 paintings are now on display in the Blai Gallery through Nov. 3, and on Sunday, Sept. 22, prizes will be awarded by juror Peter Trippi, editor-in-chief of Fine Art Connoisseur, during a meet-the-artists reception from 2 to 3 p.m. at LBIF, followed by a lecture on plein air painting by Trippi.
Besides his magazine work, Trippi is president of Projects in 19th Century Art, a firm he established to pursue research, writing and curating opportunities. Previously he served as director of the Dahash Museum of Art in New York and vice-director for development at the Brooklyn Museum.
In Plein Air Plus, you will see paintings by local and nationally known artists, in particular Alexander Shanks, the son of world-renowned portrait painter Nelson Shanks (recently deceased) and a supreme portrait painter of his own merit. For this show, Alexander Shanks painted the Barnegat Lighthouse backed by a towering cloud formation. Astoundingly he painted the large canvas entirely on site for a plein air painting.
Doug Tweddale travels the U.S. in his R.V., painting scenes in national parks for his “Living the Dream” series of pastel paintings. For this exhibit he painted the maritime forest in Barnegat Light as beautifully as he has painted the California redwoods. Tweddale’s “Development Survivors” was painted en plein air, and with his interplay of warm and cool colors in the shady glen, he evokes another master from a different age, Cézanne.
Our local artists include Al Barker from Bordentown, who paints smaller works in watercolors and oils that include an unsurpassed attention to detail. He is a self-taught artist who has won over 50 awards and has a painting in the White House collection. For this event, he painted en plein air two small works in oils, “Summer Thunderclouds,” and “A View of LBI” that shows the houses tucked in along the Harvey Cedars cove. His larger work “LBI’s Dunes,” also in oils, captures the fading light of the afternoon in Barnegat Light.
Lori Bonanni of Surf City has been working on perfecting the dazzling light through ocean waves, and her oil on canvas “First Light” is a stunner. Bonanni is really coming into her own as a seasoned painter of Long Beach Island’s scenic delights. Her painting is in the Plein Air Plus category. She is represented locally by Solace Gallery in Surf City.
Linda Hibbs of Little Egg Harbor is primarily a pastel artist. Her three paintings “At The Shore,” “Moonlight LBI” and “Summer Clouds” are soft and accessible landscapes.
Gretchen Kelly also chose to do small paintings on site and then complete a larger work in her studio in Hudson, N.Y. Kelly’s small studies in watercolor and gouache “Blush Beach” and “Marsh and Blue Sky” are accomplished, finished paintings on their own. Her “30th Street Beach” acrylic painting on natural linen is done as a vignette of a crowded summer beach day.
Susan Graeber is a resident of Maine and revels in painting the rock-strewn North Atlantic coast, but she perfectly captured the feeling of Barnegat Bay during “Approaching Storm Salt Marsh,” oil on canvas for the plein air category.
“A Herd of Sea Kayaks” by Lynn Gibson, oil on linen, was painted in Harvey Cedars. Gibson’s lively paintings approach photo-realism but retain the artist’s creative design and vision. Gibson won first place in the plein air category last year for her painting of a blow-up lobster in the Acme Market parking lot in Brant Beach. She was recently featured in an article in Fine Art Connoisseur.
Stephanie Lalor’s oil on linen painting, “Turn Left at the Elephant,” is painted in quick, bright brushstrokes and makes a commercial strip of Surf City including the mini-golf course anything but mundane.
All the paintings in “Plein Air Plus” are for sale and make for a one-stop shopping excursion for those outfitting their LBI homes. For those of us less fortunate, come bathe in the colors and vibrations of a summer gone by.