Living at or near the shore, one can view a variety of scenes made by either man or Mother Nature. Anything from boardwalks and boats to waterways and waves can be beautiful in the eye of the beholder. But what may appeal to one, may not always appeal to another.
Artist Ann Hayes prefers both the “rich tapestry of natural and man-made artifacts that make up the Jersey Shore.” As an artist, she’s drawn to boardwalks, amusement piers and old shore houses because of their various patinas. But she’s aware that other artists may be attracted to other parts of the shore, which is why she created “Ann Hayes & Friends: Scene at the Shore,” a group show of 10 diverse artists, all of whom have their own unique take on shore scenes. The show runs from Thursday, Dec. 1, through Dec. 22, at the Grunin Center Art Gallery in Toms River.
“I wanted artists who could bring their personal perspective to the theme — artists who make their life here and find inspiration in the dynamic beauty of the coast,” Hayes says. “Different artists may depict a similar scene — and the contrast in style, medium and viewpoint is fascinating.”
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Hayes, who paints beach scenes and local landmarks, likes to call her style “natural realism” and enjoys “capturing the everyday beauty” of our area. Her watercolors and oils are filled with vibrant colors.
For Joseph A. Imbesi, who considers the Jersey Shore the one constant in life — “it’s been my playground, my best friend, my therapist and my church” — his art is different story.
As opposed to Hayes’ multi-colored scenes, Imbesi prefers to capture black and white images of the shore.
As a teenager in the 1960s, Imbesi says it was “all about The Beatles and the (Rolling) Stones,” so he strove to become a guitarist. But once he laid his eyes on an Ansel Adams photo in the 1970s, he “fell in love with the black and white aspect.”
“I started thinking less and less about music and more and more about photography,” Imbesi says. “(But) I wasted a lot of years doing color work — weddings, baby pictures — pictures I thought would sell. That took all the pleasure out of it.”
Disillusioned, he wound up working for a New York City printer, but never strayed from photography — for himself, though, not others.
“I always did photography. But by then I did what I liked, which was 90 percent black and white and 100 percent shore-related somehow — boating salt water, rivers, marshland — I love the whole feel of the Jersey Shore,” Imbesi says.
Imbesi prefers to “roam around” without any preconceived notions about what to shoot. But he’s always “thinking in black and white.”
“When photographing a colored scene into black and white, you got to realize what the reds will look like or what the blue water will look like,” he says. “I think of Ansel Adams’ Zone System — you have to know what the colors will looks like in black and white. And then think about the final print.”
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Imbesi, who shoots from Sandy Hook to Cape May, went “kicking and screaming” into the digital age, but had to do it “to survive in the 21st century.” He seems to have gotten used to digital, even occasionally finding some benefits to it.
“You don’t have to be as selective with what you shoot. In the old days, you didn’t know what it would look like until you processed it,” he says. “Now you see it in the camera and know right there … it’s good and bad.”