A decade ago, local artist and friend of the Absecon School District Leon Westcoat donated an oil painting he had done of a Faunce Landing vista to be raffled off as a fundraiser for the Absecon Education Fund.

Event chairman Mike Cicali expected a modest turnout at the event, which was held at the Noyes Museum in Galloway Township, but it far surpassed his expectations.

"It was a huge turnout and a big success, and the next year we did the same thing," Cicali said. "We invited other local artists to participate, and they started donating artwork to auction, and it's just kind of grown."

On 7 p.m. Jan. 25, the Absecon Education Foundation will hold its 10th annual Evening with the Arts event at the Noyes Museum. Tickets are $25 and include entry to the museum to view and bid on works by a dozen local artists. The museum's regular exhibits also will be available to view.

In addition to the art on display, there will be musical performances by guitarist Scott Senn and classical violinist Susan Davenport, a gourmet buffet and a 50/50 raffle.

The donated works run the gamut, ranging from handcrafted jewelry and oil paintings to sculpture and photography. Cicali, who has seen some of the works, said he believes attendees will be impressed by what they see.

"We have some really exciting returners and exciting first-time artists," Cicali said. "I think people are going to be surprised. From what I've seen so far, the art is superb."

Many of the participating artists have ties to Absecon schools. Jessie Stackhouse, who teaches art at the Marsh school, has donated a print of an oil painting she did of a Caribbean-esque beach scene. Stackhouse, who has participated in the past two events, said she enjoys helping the school.

"I just feel like, it's for our school, for a good cause," Stackhouse said. "I definitely have lots of artwork lying around, too, so it's not a big deal to donate something."

The Absecon Education Foundation was established in the mid-90s to help reinforce science, sports and arts programs at Absecon schools, which were at the time the victim of budget cuts, Cicali said, making the fundraiser a good fit with the foundation's origins.

The arts event is made possible only because of the support of community members and organizations, who donate time, refreshments, art, and in the Noyes' case, offer space to the foundation at a heavily reduced price.

"We're not a huge group," Cicali said. "Quite honestly, it's a small amount of money that comes out of it. If we had to pay the full museum rental fee, we couldn't do the event. We'd have to do it elsewhere, and that's a tribute to the community support."

Contact Braden Campbell:


If you go

What: The Absecon Education Foundation's "An Evening with the Arts"

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 25

Where: Noyes Museum, 733 Lily Lake Road, Galloway Township.

How much: $25 for tickets, $20 for 50/50 raffle ticket.

More info: Call Janice Clarke, Attales School Secretary, at 609-641-5375, ext.1017.