Depicting everyday occurrences is the foundation of Marie Natale’s nostalgic watercolors.

“I like to capture moments in life — simple moments. I like capturing life in the communities … Cape May, Ocean City, Hammonton,” Natale says. “It’s appealing to people … (because) it’s about happy memories, it makes people feel good, it’s things people can connect with.”

It’s these unfussy small town instances that take up part of a bigger group art show to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery in Hammonton, a popular local hangout that has held monthly art exhibits for nine of the past 10 years.

Snow at Casciano

‘Snow at Casciano'

Natale, a private art instructor, has exhibited at Casciano’s annually since it began hosting shows.

“When Linda (Cashan, owner) opened 10 years ago, she wanted to open the space to local artists, too,” Natale says. “It’s a nice way for people to sit, have coffee and look at new things — exhibits change every month.”

Natale develops a theme for each of her shows, whether in Hammonton, Cape May, Ocean City or beyond. And her knack for seizing a moment in time through watercolors is something that both Natale and viewers seem to enjoy.

“I like doing … that. It adds a newness to a scene … and lets people recall and remember the things that were key to growing up in their community.

“It’s fun to capture the essence of what that community means to people.”

Natale has had a life-long love for art and discovered her artistic talent as a young child. But she was strongly discouraged from pursuing it by her high school guidance counselor.

“He was going to put me in all honors classes. I was heartbroken because I wouldn’t be able to take any art classes,” she recalls. “My mother stormed into his office and told him to take me out (of an honors program). He said I’d never make any money in art. But I’m so lucky. I’ve made a living on my art my whole life.”

Sharing her knowledge and technique of plein air or painting from photographs with students as near as Glassboro and as far as Italy, both jazzes Natale, as well as gives her peace of mind.

“It’s a great way to escape — especially in this world of chaos and turmoil.”

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