"Artistic" is a word rarely used to describe medical practitioners. But you might not guess that some doctors and nurses exchange stethoscopes and scrubs for cameras and paintbrushes.

For December, the Milton and Betty Katz Jewish Community Center in Margate will display the Doctors' Hidden Talents art exhibit, featuring the artwork of 11 doctors and nurses from the area.

The first exhibit was two years ago, but on a smaller scale, said event organizer Marsha Galespie, a Ventnor resident and volunteer at the JCC.

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"It's very exciting to find out about people who have explored their horizons in many different (ways)," she said.

The exhibit's opening reception is Dec. 9.

Galespie, founder of the CSURE Children's Park in Ventnor, recalled learning that her gastroenterologist, Dr. Paul Ljubich, could do more than practice medicine. His fine-art skills inspired her to discover and display other local talent, with his help, she said.

"I think it gives doctors a different humanistic view. … You can see their personalities in a different way," she said.

Featured artist Cecelia Drakapoulos, of Atlantic City, has worked as a surgical nurse at Atlantic City Medical Center for more than 10 years, but has been an artist all her life, she said.

"I really need to paint. If I don't paint, I feel like I'm falling apart. It keeps me together," she said.

Drakapoulos, who featured her work two years ago, said she's not new to displaying her work. Often, she hangs her paintings in Malelani Cafe in Ventnor, a coffee shop owned by her husband, George.

The nurse featured five original oil paintings that night. Her art often reflects on mythology and incorporates symbols of nature, she said.

Galespie's initial exhibit featured five artists. This year, she managed to double the talent.

Acupuncturist Justin Bean was a new addition. He has been hanging samples of his art around his Somers Point office for years, he said.

The Linwood resident showed figure drawings and Japanese-inspired landscapes at the show, but he admits to venturing into various media, including music, film and sculpture work.

Bean's art background is not unaccredited. He originally studied art at Rutgers University. He began practicing acupuncture 15 years ago, he said.

"When you treat, you're working on people, on their body. I actually see art in acupuncture," he said.

Lonny Matlick, a Northfield ear, nose and throat physician, displayed photographs as well as his themed birdhouses, which he referred to as "found object outdoor functional art."

"It's fun. It's just something different," the Linwood resident said of his unique hobby. "It gets your mind off day-to-day stuff."

Matlick featured about 10 different birdhouse creations, all constructed using garage sale finds or other miscellaneous pieces, including clock parts, champagne bottles and copper wire.

"I squeeze it in, 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there," he said of finding time to work on his pieces, which can take him years to complete.

Matlick's fellow medical practitioners came out to display beach-themed pottery, photography from around the world and even miniature functioning engines.

"This is something you normally wouldn't think of when you are going to the doctor - the life they have outside of the office," said Sheryl Rubin, the center's program director. "And it's amazing that someone with a career that is so demanding has the time and the passion to have a hobby like art, and they're fantastic at it."

Many of the pieces are for sale. Rubin said some doctors donate the proceeds back to the JCC to offset some of the center's costs for local families.

The artists this year include Jill Goldenberg, Marvin Hyett, Eugene Carroccia, Alice Grillo, Paul Ljubich, Joseph Harhay, Wayne Heggan and the late William Vilensky.

The JCC is open 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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