One of Jane Law’s signature annual art events was a show of miniatures that developed such a reputation over the years, it drew pieces by artists from as far away as Australia, Japan and Russia to Jane Law’s Art Studios and Gallery on Long Beach Island.
But aside from the dimensions of the pieces in the show — most were less than 2-by-3 inches — there was nothing small about Law’s contributions to art on her adopted island.
“I didn’t grow up in this area, but when I moved here (in 1982), this was kind of a cultural desert,” said Lisa Budd, of the West Creek section of Eagleswood Township, who traces her start as a professional artist to visiting Law’s shop. “I don’t know if there were many other galleries on the island. ... But I remember Jane being open pretty much year-round. She had the gallery, she taught a lot of classes and workshops, and her son had the framing business.”
Law, of Surf City, who died last month at 89, opened her arts emporium in 1974 and retired in 2008. In that time, she helped spur local interest in art by both producers and consumers.
Her son and business partner, Jonathan, said Jane loved most aspects of art, including teaching new artists and creating her own art. Watercolors were her specialty. One of her favorite ways to spend time was taking a class out hunting for subjects.
“From the dunes to the back bays, being on location, that was exactly what she loved,” said her son, whose framing shop is now in his mother’s old Surf City store.
And even though Jane was a transplant to Long Beach Island — she grew up in Ohio and moved to the island with her husband, Lilliard — she fell hard for her new home and made it a constant subject.
“She rarely left the island to paint,” Jonathan said.
Jane knew other artists loved her island, too, and what they liked to paint. That started another tradition at her gallery, a show called “How Many Artists Does it Take to Paint Barnegat Lighthouse?” When that was a hit, she added another subject, a dilapidated hunting shack that’s an island landmark.
To Pat Johnson, of Tuckerton, that title shows Jane’s sense of humor. Johnson studied art as a kid but had mostly given it up, until she met Jane Law about 10 years ago and took a class with her.
“She was wonderful” as a teacher, said Johnson, now an artist, a gallery owner and the arts editor of The SandPaper, a local weekly newspaper. Johnson said art classes at Law’s studio became popular for lots of visitors, including some who would leave the beach for a class on the gallery’s back lawn.
In other words, Jane Law’s place became a Long Beach Island institution — almost as much as some of those landmarks the island’s artists are always painting.
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