By Madeline Orton
On a special day in Red Bank, it’s hard to pinpoint where the community ends and the art begins.
“We built this space specifically to be able to display things like art or other community activity events,” shared Joe Iantosca, Ocean First Bank Executive Vice President, indicating to a display case filled with original pottery and sculpture.
Local businesses like Ocean First Bank, Resources Real Estate and Salon Concrete become temporary art galleries, and join the Red Bank Art Walk — a citywide tour of art.
Zeet Peabody, Executive Chef of JBJ Soul Kitchen, sees a clear link between art and the restaurant’s work. “No art, no future. Come on,” he said. “It’s creativity, it’s soul, it’s what we do, it’s expression. I’ll take it.”
JBJ Soul Kitchen became involved despite a shortage of wall space. The donation and volunteer-based community restaurant run by Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation cooked up a creative solution.
“I have this fabulous garden and I said, ‘I don’t have a lot of space in the restaurant; use the beds,'” said Peabody.
After holding three events in 2012, Red Bank Art Walk has grown to include works by approximately 30 artists across 18 venues.
Businesses and galleries aren’t the only ones with a vested interest in the Art Walk’s success. Residents are also eager to shine a spotlight on their hometown.
Remedios Quiroz, a Red Bank resident and artist, leads tours as a volunteer docent. “I wanted to be able to show them to the different places, so they can appreciate the art that’s here. They don’t have to go anywhere! They don’t have to go to New York City! They have a lot of artists — good artists — in this area.”
“Really, everywhere you look there’s art, so you just need to look a little closer,” said Robert Langdon, Director of Gallery U. and organizer of Red Bank Art Walk. “So with the Art Walk, we’re giving you that opportunity and we’re telling you where to go, so you don’t have to look all that close.”
For Deborah Jencsik, a featured artist who recently donated a piece to Sandy Hook Elementary School, the opportunity to share her work is about something more. “I really believe art is about relationships, and ultimately relationships kind of span into community … I believe my work has taken on a perspective of being very healing, bringing light and joy into a space, and so I hope to inspire people and, in a sense, educate them as well.”
That kind of vision is leading Red Bank to expand its calendar, and add more Art Walks.
“Red Bank is really a community that’s not just an art community, but a caring community,” explained a smiling Quiroz.
“We are audience-driven,” said Peabody. “We are here to help people and be open to whatever they need, and hopefully that’s what art can do sometimes.”
Red Bank Art Walk is expected to return sometime in August.
Major funding for NJ Arts is provided by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the F.M. Kirby Foundation.