Ventnor will host its inaugural celebration of local arts this weekend, May 24-26, which will include sidewalk art sales and demonstrations, local gallery open houses, live music, poetry and much more.

"My feeling is while Ventnor doesn't have any major attractions to speak of - we don't have any hotel or motels, we don't have an amusement park - we do have a lot of artists in town and people love art," said Ventnor artist Janet Bodoff, who is also a member of the Ventnor Tourism Board and a volunteer at the Ventnor Cultural Arts Center where she teaches metalsmithing and jewelry making classes. "So if we make our art accessible to the public, it will benefit the artists, the area and the public."

The inaugural Ventnor Arts Weekend coincides with Memorial Day weekend and will kick off May 24 with an Art in the Park event from 4 to 8 p.m. in the park behind the Ventnor branch of the Atlantic County Library, 6500 Atlantic Ave.

Art in the Park is a fourth Friday event held through the summer season, with local artists set up in the park, demonstrating their craft and selling their work. This is the second summer Ventnor is hosting the fourth Friday Art in the Park events, which are sponsored by the Ventnor Cultural Arts Center, in the same building as the library.

Then on May 25, two new Ventnor art galleries - Holtzman Gallery at 5301 Atlantic Ave. and North Beach Gallery and Gifts at 5209 Atlantic Ave. - will host open houses, while other artists will set up on the city's sidewalks, showcasing and selling their work.

Holtzman Gallery is a fine arts gallery owned by Ventnor resident David Holtzman. It houses an eclectic display of upscale artwork for sale, including an etching of a 1928 Louis Icart, "Don Juan," a self-portrait by Anthony Quinn and limited edition Erte sculptures. Holtzman Gallery had its soft opening in February, and this weekend's open house is its grand opening event, which will be hosted in partnership with its neighbor, Farley and Ferry Realty.

The open house will take place from at the gallery from 7 to 10 p.m. and will include butler-served wine and live jazz by the Bob Sterling Trio, as well as an opportunity to meet and mingle with artists and art aficionados. Ventnor lawyer and author Frank Ferry will host a special book signing of his 306-page biography "Nucky: The Real Story of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Boss" during the event.

Bodoff said the idea to host the Ventnor Arts Weekend actually came about while she was talking to Holtzman about his gallery's grand opening.

"I said to him, 'If you're doing something Saturday, and we're (the Ventnor Cultural Arts Center) doing something Friday, we should just make one big event out of it,'" Bodoff said.

North Beach Gallery and Gifts, a stone's throw away from Holtzman, also is entering its first summer season in Ventnor, and plans to host a open house.

North Beach, owned by Margate resident Kim Romantino, is a more laid-back art gallery environment that exhibits the works of mostly local artists and has a mission of supporting local charities and connecting the community through art, made possible through art fundraisers and community art gatherings. It officially opened last fall.

Ventnor Arts Weekend will wrap up May 26 with a music and poetry open mic night from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Malelani Cafe. Local artists will line the Ventnor sidewalks from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 26.

Malelani is an small eatery on the corner of 52nd and Atlantic Avenue with a strong focus on bringing promoting local arts. It hosts monthly shows by local artists and performances by local up-and-coming musicians.

"I'm trying to help change the area to a little SoHo," said Malelani owner George Drakopoulos. "There are so many artists and musicians around here, but they don't have many venues to showcase their talents, so the more venues, the more exposure, the better it will be for all of us."

Contact Elisa Lala:


Ventnor Arts Weekend events

May 24

Art in the Park, 4-8 p.m. behind the Ventnor branch of the Atlantic County Library, 6500 Atlantic Ave. Artists will demonstrate and sell their work. Ventnor Cultural Arts Center, 6500 Atlantic Ave., 609-823-7952,

May 25-26

Artists will be set up on the sidewalks around Ventnor from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Holtzman Gallery will host a grand opening open house in partnership with Farley and Ferry Realty, at 5301 Atlantic Ave., 609-882-8482,

North Beach Gallery and Gifts will host an open house, 5209 Atlantic Ave., 609-214-3994.

May 26

Music and poetry from 2 to 4 p.m. at Malelani Cafe, 5205 Atlantic Ave., 609-822-5007,

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