Sitting on a small stool facing a canvas in her recently opened art studio, Avalon native Monica Zane took a paintbrush in one hand and white molding paint in the other and began to apply a new layer of paint to the elongated limbs of the dancer in front of her.

After every few strokes, Zane would take her pointer finger and smooth it over the wet paint. With each layer, the dancer's dainty limbs began to lift off the canvas a little bit higher, seemingly coming to life.

The painting will take several more months to complete, Zane said, and she already has plans to paint two matching images to pair on each side of it. But in the end, she said, it will be worth the wait.

"To sit here and go through this detail takes so much patience, but when I understand what's behind it, it fuels the passion, and I can't stop until I feel like I've told the story," she said.

Zane is a multi-talented lover of the arts. She is an actress, a dancer, a singer and a songwriter, a painter and a woodcarver. She has toured Europe to perform in the musical "Cats," sung with an orchestra in Monte Carlo and produced and starred in a one-woman show in New York City, to name a few of her many accomplishments.

But above all else, she says, she is a storyteller. Telling the stories behind her art, regardless of the medium, is her ultimate goal.

"That's what motivates me," Zane said, as she focuses her energy on adding a strand of pearls draping down from her dancer's neck. "If I don't have a story behind what I'm doing, I don't have a muse."

She said the thread of storytelling, and the "burning desire to tell her stories," has followed her throughout her life.

"That's why as a dancer, I wanted to be a choreographer. As a singer, I wanted to write songs, and as a painter, I want to add the story to the canvas that's in there," Zane said.

While she worked on the painting of the dancer, Zane attempted to put into words her own life story, including her goals and her dreams. She said the current chapter of her life is bookmarked on the opening of her art studio at 37th and Ocean Drive in Avalon. Her parents, Ed and Veronica Zane, have owned the property for many years.

Zane said after years of traveling the world to showcase her talents, she has decided to spend some time in her hometown telling its stories.

"I feel like it's my duty for our hometown to be represented," she said.

She said she made the decision to stay in Avalon over the July Fourth weekend when she was home visiting with her parents. She will use the studio as a place to showcase her artwork - which is all for sale and includes several images of Avalon landmarks - to work on her current art projects and to meet with clients. Zane also specializes in commissioned art, which includes painting portraits of people's loved ones, pets and properties.

She said she is excited and honored to be a voice for Avalon, telling its stories through her artwork.

"As much as I want to be an artist, I also really want to be of service to the arts," Zane said. "That's always been my greatest goal."

Contact Elisa Lala:

609-463-6713

If you go

What: Monica Zane's Art Studio Open House

Where: 3735 Ocean Drive, Avalon

When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Weekend, Nov. 23-25

Event will include complimentary wine, coffee and cider. The wine is being donating by Legend Wines owner Gregory Lawson, a resident of Avalon.

Call 212-352-4205 for commissions or to view Zane's work or visit