Every three months, Latz's by the Bay restaurant reveals an exhibit featuring a new artist. For this quarter, the Somers Point cafe announced painter Rita Michalenko will present her rural landscapes, entitled "Off the Beaten Path."

The art will be displayed in the second floor dining room beginning Saturday. There will be a meet-the-artist reception on Nov. 9.

Andrew Latz, the Northfield native who owns the restaurant, wanted the reception to take place during Somers Point Restaurant Week - Nov. 7 to 16 - to provide special offerings on food.

The art was selected from the Great Bay Art Gallery in Somers Point, which offers space for established local and regional artists to come together for group shows, according to Kathleen Arleth, owner of the gallery.

"I seek artists in the area, and Rita is very well known," Arleth, of Somers Point, said.

Michalenko has work in numerous art spaces throughout South Jersey, including The Clay College Ceramic Arts Studio in Vineland, Ocean City Fine Arts League in Ocean City, the Noyes Museum of Art in Absecon and Cape May Art League in Cape May.

"Since a young age, I've enjoyed art, and once I started elementary school, my teachers were very encouraging," Michalenko said.

The artist has lived on a sheep farm for 35 years called Weymouth Walk in Mays Landing, which contributed to her passion for domestic animals and pets.

"I call it 'Off the Beaten Path' because most of my work is based on plein air observations of rural life," she said. "I like traveling to locations that people wouldn't see on an everyday basis."

Michalenko's pieces are for sale. The exhibit will feature portraits of animals in nature painted with oils, pastels and watercolors.

She is an associate professor at Atlantic Cape Community College, where she teaches ceramics, drawing, traditional crafts, watercolor and oil painting.

Michalenko received a bachelor's degree from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and a master's degree from Tyler School of Art at Temple University.

"My favorite type of art to teach is ceramics because it's so popular now, and the classes fill up so quickly," she said.

Michalenko has an art studio at The Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts in Millville.

The painter stays active throughout the region by being an annual participant in the Rita Long Beach Island Watercolor and the Miniature Show at the Jane Law Gallery in Surf City.

Contact Sekia Mangum:


If you go

WHAT: Off the

Beaten Path Art


WHERE: Latz's by the Bay, 801 Bay Ave., Somers Point

WHEN: 3 to 5 p.m. Nov. 9


Contact Kathleen

at 609-653-4991