New Jersey Stage

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Art in the Park 2011: the season, and the reason

(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -— Looking for one single, compelling reason to check out Art in the Park, when the outdoor art fair event makes its 13th annual stand in Long Branch on Sunday, May 29?

For one thing, you won't find a more pleasant signifier of the summertime season than Art in the Park, the traditional Memorial Day Weekend event that's hosted by the Long Branch Arts Council, in partnership with the Long Branch Historical Association and the City of Long Branch. It's totally free and open to the public, it gathers dozens of the region's most creative people in the sea-kissed setting of West End Park — and few would argue that it certainly beats being stuck in traffic.

For another, it's presented from 10am to 5:30pm in a convenient location (at the corner of Ocean and Brighton Avenues) that's just one block from the beach, and right in the heart of the West End arts and business district. So you can stroll or roll from our art fair to the city's famous oceanside Moss Mile — and you're within walking distance of more than 20 different sit-down restaurants, take-out eateries and taverns; one of the largest, most diverse and accessible culinary experiences on the Jersey Shore.

Perhaps the Number One reason to visit Art in the Park 2011? According to artist and event coordinator Mare Akana, it's about "Being able to meet the artists and talk to them about their work."

"This is a favorite event for them," says Akana of the participants who come from four states to stake out their place in the park. "As an artist, this would be the one show I wouldn't miss if I was able to participate."

One of the largest and best attended open-air art happenings in New Jersey, Art in the Park is not a traveling "art sale" but a unique event that Akana describes "a one-of-a-kind collection of quality original works, many of which you won't see anywhere else."

There's live music in the park gazebo, along with a Visitors Gallery where kids can create their own artworks to display in the park. A variety of items will be available for sale by the participating artists, and awards will be given out in each of eight categories, along with a People's Choice award selected by event attendees.

Guest juror for this year's event will be Jimmy Leslie, resident artist and Artist Outreach director for ColArts America, makers of Liquitex and Winsor & Newton paints and artists' supplies. Mr. Leslie, subject of a solo show opening this May at Asbury Park's Tides Hotel, has also served on the faculties at Monmouth University, St. John's University and Brookdale Community College.

The 2010 event was the most successful ever, with more than 60 participating artists enjoying beautiful weather, a record turnout and a positive buzz that's carried through into the new year. The LBAC invites one and all to help sound the keynote to a new season of fun and activity in Long Branch — in colorful style — at Art in the Park 2011.

The Long Branch Arts Council is a partnership dedicated to working with the city government, civic and business
organizations and the arts community to re-establish the City of Long Branch as a thriving regional center for the arts. Our aim is to accomplish this goal by attracting artists and arts organizations, by coordinating fundraising and development efforts, by establishing arts education programs, and by presenting arts-oriented events that draw upon the natural resources, accessibility, historic assets and "people power" that are unique to our beloved city.