AT THE SHORE
Winter storm Jonas is to blame for the month-long closing of the Ocean City Fine Arts League on Asbury Avenue, which otherwise stays open year round.
“It (water damage) was just enough to soak the carpet,” says Rae Jaffe, president of the OCFAL. “No sewage or anything.”
But they are back in business with fresh, new rugs, having reopened at the end of February — just in time to load in their show “Black, White and Shades of Grey,” which ends Thursday, March 31.
“It’s a beautiful show,” Jaffe says. “We’ve had so many positive comments about it. It’s very striking.”
First-place winner of the black-white-grey show, which “goes back to the basics,” was Scott Troxel of Marmora, who created “Black Heart,” a wooden wall sculpture composed of solid pine and walnut on MDF backing — or medium-density fiberboard, a “super-engineered wood” that’s made from wood fibers and glued under heat and pressure.
“With the Arts League, there are a lot of very, very good artists there that do landscapes, seascapes, more representational work,” Troxel says. “I do non-objective or abstract work. And if you want to compete in the Arts League, it has to be very striking.”
Ironically, the flooding of OCFAL seems to have inadvertently helped Troxel enhance his “Black Heart” even more — perhaps providing him with an extra spurt of creativity.
“The funny part about it is the Arts League got flooded, so that piece was on my wall for an additional three or four weeks. So I had the luxury of adding to it,” says Troxel, who just recently returned to art after spending about 20 years away from it to focus on family and career.
“I love black and white and even grey to some extent. I put raw pieces of walnut in there, which aren’t any of those colors, because I loved the texture. But I just couldn’t stain them. They were so beautiful as they were,” he continues. “I thought, if I don’t win this show because of that, then so be it.
“It’s nice to win or be recognized. It’s a challenge and it’s fun. But if it didn’t win because it had that (walnut) in it, then that’s how it’s going to be.”
As soon as “Black and White” goes down, “Tribute to a Favorite Artist” goes up, lasting throughout April with an opening reception 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 8.
The tribute show has been done before, which Jaffe says is “always interesting” because you “see people’s take on an artist they admire.”
Both Jaffe and Troxel are included in the April show. Jaffe created her own version of Edgar Degas’ “The Absinthe Drinker,” while Troxel mimicked one of his idols Frank Stella, for whom a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York just ended last month.
“He was just brilliant,” Troxel says of Stella. “Like any artist, he went through different stages. (His work was) very non-objective, (meaning) it’s not supposed to represent anything, it purely just stands on its own in terms of beauty and color. It’s not supposed to be anything other than what it is.”
As for Jaffe, she couldn’t be happier and more relieved that the Fine Arts League, a co-op of artists and volunteers, is up and running again — especially now that it is pretty much the only gallery left in town, with the exception of the Ocean City Arts Center at 17th Street and Simpson Avenue. Due to high rents, both Scott Griswold Gallery and Accent Gallery recently closed on Asbury Avenue, making room for a pop-up youth apparel shop and another yoga studio.
“We have wonderful volunteers,” says Jaffe, alluding to the fact that if they had to pay employees, they’d probably be closing, too. “I can’t say enough about them.”
‘TRIBUTE TO A FAVORITE ARTIST’
Where: Ocean City Fine Arts League,
608 Asbury Ave., Ocean City
When: Tribute show opens Friday, April 8. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays
Opening reception: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 8