Book Club: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

Sunday, September 21 at 5:30pm (following the 3pm performance)

The School for Wives, written in 1732, tells the story of a man who wants to create his perfect marriage by raising a young woman to know nothing except the “rules” of being a good wife. ‘The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.‘, written by Adelle Waldman in 2013, tells the story of a smart, literate 30-something man living and dating in Brooklyn trying to find his perfect woman. Join the Two River Theater Book Club for a discussion of the roles of men and women in romantic partnerships and how much they’ve changed – or haven’t.

FREE! Click here to RSVP.

Inside Two River Events: The School for Wives Open Rehearsal

Thursday, Sept. 4 at 7:30pm
Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater

Enjoy a rare inside look at what goes on in the rehearsal room! Join director Mark Wing-Davey and cast members from The School for Wives for this one-time-only special event and get a sneak peak at select scenes from the play, followed by dessert and coffee in the lobby.

FREE! Click here to RSVP.


Inside Two River Events: Moliere 101 with Artistic Director John Dias

Thursday, August 21 at 7:30pm

American theater artists revel in French farceur Moliere’s brilliant silliness. Ever wonder how they prepare to tackle all the French neo-classical fun? Join Artistic Director John Dias to find out – there may even be a few rhyming couplets! If you’d like to submit any questions in advance please email with subject line MOLIERE101.

FREE! Click here to RSVP

BOOK CLUB: Shiksa Goddess by Wendy Wasserstein

Sunday, June 15th at 5:30pm (following the 3pm matinee)
Wendy Wasserstein was a writer of “uncommon women.” Whether strong, smart, neurotic, or struggling to connect (or all of the above), Wasserstein’s women are complete portraits drawn with wit and great humanity. Join Literary Manager Anika Chapin to discuss Shiksa Goddess, a collection of Wasserstein’s hilariously funny and deeply moving personal essays. We’ll examine the line between the playwright herself and Laurie, the main character of Third, both wry women questioning the shape of their worlds and their place in them.

Click here to RSVP

Notes about NCCAS, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) has completed the new, national voluntary arts education standards from Pre-K-8 to High School this fall. The review period closed in October 2013, and reviewers from across the United States took the time to respond to the draft copy online.

The standards describe what students should know and be able to do as a result of a quality curricular arts education program and are “grounded in arts education best practice drawn from the United States and abroad, as well as a comprehensive review of developmental research.”

According to the website, the NCCAS is “committed to developing a next generation of voluntary arts education standards that will build on the foundation created by the 1994 document, support the 21st-century needs of students and teachers, help ensure that all students are college and career ready, and affirm the place of arts education in a balanced core curriculum.” 

Let’s take a look at the High School Standards for Visual Arts, which are organized around three artistic processes: Creating, Presenting and Responding. Each standard utilizes (an) Essential Question(s) that can focus discussion and inspiration. One of the first standards, VACR1A looks like this:

Discipline: Visual Art
Artistic Process: Creating
Process Component: Experiment/Imagine/Identify
Anchor Standard: Initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.
Enduring Understanding: Creativity and innovative thinking are essential life skills that can be developed.
Essential Questions: Can all people be artists? What conditions, attitudes and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking? Does collaboration expand the creative process?

Following the standard is a rubric defining three levels of success in meeting the standard. Art work by the student demonstrates his/her ability to:

HS Proficient- Utilize multiple approaches to begin creative endeavors. 

HS Accomplished – Individually or collaboratively formulate new creative problems based on students existing artwork.

HS Advanced- Visualize and hypothesize how creativity and innovative thinking lead to choices and actions that can effect change.

The VACR1A Standard offers real engagement by the student in the process as well as the production of visual art work. 

The Visual Arts Standards (as well as Music, Dance, Media Arts and Theater) for High School are designed to support state and local district policies regarding graduation requirements as well as college and career readiness for graduating high school students.

In January 2014, public review of Pre K-12 standards, including draft model cornerstone assessments, will begin. In February, the standards will be finalized with the goal of NCCAS participating organizations accepting the standards, and release of the National Core Arts Standards on the web in March 2014 is planned.

 Additionally, the new standards could be used as advocacy to inspire what great arts education could be for students in schools without arts education.

For more information, go to 

Sandy Taylor
Arts Education Director, Monmouth Arts




photo credit: Môsieur J. [version 9.1] via photopin cc

It Can’t Fix Everything, But ArtHelps

The Union Beach “Princess House,” an iconic symbol of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction created by Matawan Aberdeen Regional High School seniors Montana Bertoli and Karliegh Komski. Photo by Rhianna Kern.

Art may seem like the last thing anyone needed after the devastation of a storm like Sandy, but we immediately saw artists harnessing the power of the arts to rebuild the spirits of their communities at the same time these towns along the coast and bayshore were cleaning up and working to rebuild homes and businesses.

Two River Theater and Count Basie Theatre became recharging stations for people and electronics; Middletown Arts Center gave respite to out-of-school students (and their parents) with creative activities while schools were closed; displaced musicians held benefit concerts for people worse off then themselves; Colorest, a local arts supply store opened their beautiful new studio space to any artist who needed it; visual and performing art teachers kept the art going even while their students were displaced from flooded homes and schools; and the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation decided this was the time to take on an exhibition/performance space to give people another reason to visit Asbury Park.

Randolph High School students and their painted barricade in Belmar.

Belmar Arts Council suspended their programs and jumped in to help their town when their space was taken over for a relief staging area.  Belmar then asked their Arts Council to paint the concrete barriers along Ocean Avenue to brighten up a depressing sight.

At Monmouth Arts we assessed how the arts community was affected and compiled information on resources for artists and arts groups.  We were able to connect those in need to resources, sometimes within minutes, thanks to social media.  Soon towns like Asbury Park contacted us to ask for help in getting the word out that although the beachfront was damaged the downtown was still open for business.  We created a 25 Days of Arts e-blast before the holidays to encourage people to “Get Out, Get Art,” which was therapeutic for the community and critical to local restaurants and businesses.

Artwork by Kyra Martyn, St. Rose High School in Belmar

This effort became ArtHelps and with funding from the NJ Recovery Fund has expanded into a partnership between Monmouth Arts, Ocean County Cultural & Heritage Commission andMeridian Health’s Art Therapy Program to bring the healing power of the arts to communities in Monmouth and Ocean County affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Twenty community art projects developed by local arts groups based on their town’s specific needs have been taking place from Keyport to Tuckerton, with more on the way.  Art supplies have been donated by Liquitex.

The Art Society of Keyport’s Butterfly Project

In Keyport, the Art Society of Keyport lost two community arts projects as the storm surge hit their waterfront park, the Butterfly Project and the Isaiah Zagar Mosaic Mural.  Though the mural was destroyed, during the cleanup the painted fiberglass butterflies were one by one found and returned to the town sparking a feeling of hope.  ASK is now restoring spirits and the rebirth of their downtown by replacing the mural and launching a new Butterfly Project.  A fiberglass butterfly is travelling to other arts groups in affected communities along the Jersey Shore to add their artwork and eventually return to Keyport.

This year in particular, the power of the arts has helped school communities to recover and begin to heal from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  At the Monmouth Teen Arts Festival, ArtHelps stations gave students the opportunity to express how the storm affected them through a Mosaic Art Installation, Mini-Book creation, Instagram and video.

The town of Keansburg was especially hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.  Nearly 50% of their residents were displaced by the storm, and many lost their homes completely. Students were scattered around the town and county and traveled long hours by bus to school.  Yet the Keansburg High School teachers gathered their theater students to rehearse and present the school musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” in spite of great difficulties.

The Keansburg High School cast of “The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee.”


Being part of the production gave the students affected by the storm “a sense of belonging and something positive to focus on”, said Theater Director Paul Buresh.  Through ArtHelps, students were invited to attend Monmouth University’s summer production of “The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee,” a first for most.  After the show they met the actors who played “their parts.”

These same students will be part of an ArtHelps painting session this summer in their town, creating a sculptural mosaic art installation for display in their school.

Atlantic Highlands Arts Council’s FilmOneFest, which brings hundreds of people to their downtown for an all-day festival, created a special category of short films, “Spirit of the Shore,” focusing on the storm’s aftermath and the rebuilding efforts.

In Long Branch the New Jersey Repertory Company is planning a playwrighting project with local teens and the Long Branch Arts Council is developing a poetry project for the city.  In Ocean County, Tuckerton Seaport will launch a student-centered Folk Arts project with artist Mary May, using basket making as an expressive outlet, allowing for teamwork, creative collaboration and collective healing for children on the one year anniversary of the storm.  Meridian Health’s Art Therapy Program will provide both art therapy programs and support for community arts projects.

At Monmouth Arts we know that ArtHelps.  The arts can help with both the emotional and economic impact.  As our region rebuilds over the coming months and years, the creative community has an important role in rebuilding the spirit of those who are working to restore their homes and businesses, creating art events that bring people back, helping people process their loss, creating hope for the future and envisioning a stronger and sustainable Monmouth County.

This post originally published on The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation blog.
All photos provided by Monmouth Arts.

Mary Eileen Fouratt is the Executive Director of Monmouth Arts.  Monmouth Arts enriches the community by inspiring and fostering the arts.  For more information go to or

How an Air Guitar Comes into Being

On May 15th, I got an email from Amy Puccio telling me about some sales she made so I could use them for my next “Who Sold What Where” post. Since it’s never that easy to gather information for ”WSWW,” I was thankful for the information, and told her so. The next email she sent me, however, outlined the process for the “Air Guitar” piece. I’m a sucker for process, so I asked her to write more. Well, it turns out that Amy really wrote this blog, and I’m just introducing her piece. So here it is: “How an Air Guitar Comes into Being,” by Amy Puccio. 

“Air Guitar” was started in 2006, exhibited for the first time in ‘07, and finished in 2013. This thirty-three pound sculpture was my first wall-hung, wood-mosaic piece. Even veteran artists  question ‘when is a piece done;’ So I don’t feel so bad that it took seven years of tweaking, especially being the first of its kind for  me. My process was motivated by dissatisfaction and became an exercise in flexibility and risk-taking.

Before wood mosaics, I dabbled in darkroom photography, textiles, painting in acrylic and watercolor, pen and  ink drawing, polymer clay, textiles, clock-building, and even cracked eggshell mosaics, to name a few. Unable to gain any traction whatsoever, I was desperate to create something different, to be inventive in some way. While working as a picture framer (and frustrated with all the decorative moulding scraps that ended up in the trash), I stayed late one night and on a whim, cut a bunch of these mismatched sticks down into uniform sizes, 1.5” long. With no clear idea of what to do with them, I went home, dumped them on my table and started gluing one to the other, piece by piece, like a jigsaw puzzle. The next morning, they stayed stuck; I realized I could make something large out of pieces that were small, to suit my small working space and the use of hand-held tools, and there was a free and unlimited supply of raw materials, to suit my limited financial resources. Labor-intensive and idea-driven, I finally found ‘my’ medium.

In order to build, I accumulate hundreds of linear feet of discarded frame moulding sticks.  Each is cut down into the small, measured pieces that comprise the mosaic. I do this 3 or 4 times a year, each time making about 5000 cuts with my miter saw, to build up my inventory of material. It’s always a very long day…..

“Air Guitar” is my largest art work, containing over 1200 pieces and is enclosed in a mitered frame which, ironically, I built out of 1×2” pine, instead of frame moulding. With a 24×48” frame and no idea of what to put into it, I grabbed my son’s bass guitar, covered it in plastic wrap, laid it down in the frame and started surrounding it with wood pieces. Two months and 1200 pieces later, still with no good idea for the blank ‘guitar’ portion itself, I decided to just cut it out, creating the negative space that has become a hallmark of my work.

In its early days while on display in an art gallery, sawdust appeared from one small corner, indicating the presence of powder post beetles. These are tiny, wood-eating insects sometimes found in imported picture frame moulding. Uncommon but pesky, and contagious, I had to remove the piece from the premises. Other framers told me that freeze-thaw cycles killed these things, so I wrapped it in plastic bags, stuck  it in my backyard shed and forgot about it. I was so discouraged, disappointed, and ready to call it quits. Finally, after a whole year, I brought it in, hung it and, low and behold, no more sawdust. It was only then that I went ahead and made my second piece, and then a third. By this time, I was using multiple sizes of wood pieces in my sculptures to create a multi-relief affect and a variety of colors, all of which helped the work pop and enhanced its 3D nature.  Incidentally, with thirteen years of framing and seven years of sculpture-building, that was the first and last time I encountered the little critters.

In comparison to the newer work that was accumulating, “Air Guitar” seemed flat. Whereas old work generally informs the new, the reverse occurred. Every year seemed to bring another alteration to “Air Guitar.”  In its natural wood tones, this sculpture was often mistaken for cork, still a common misconception in much of my work, despite the wide variety of color and finishes now used.  I decided to go back and color it charcoal grey but it still didn’t pop for me; I thought it needed red – I happen to think that most pieces need red!.  With red enamel markers, I painstakingly outlined each and every piece, which provided a nice, subtle, red glow.  Later and still not happy, I made the outer frame red and then later still, added a black pinstripe to that. And just a few months ago, in preparation for a solo show in Boonton, New Jersey, I painted the interior, cut-out, guitar outline in red, to bring color and attention to the depth of the piece.

So, is “Air Guitar” finally finished?? Leonardo DaVinci is credited  with saying, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” In the case of “Air Guitar,” I can happily report, “Art is never finished, only sold.”

Ellen Martin 

Looking at the Road Ahead


From the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation blog: New Jersey Social Sector’s Shared Road Ahead, by Nina Stack, President of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, we learn of “Our Shared Road Ahead – Sandy and Beyond, an upcoming day of learning and perspective”. Grantmakers and charities will be attending sessions to gain information from national colleagues about the challenges New Jersey will face in the coming years. Looking at the calendar and contemplating Memorial Day weekend and beaches opening up and down the coast, it seems like the perfect time to think about how we can rebuild our state’s resources, both natural and human, and pave the way ahead. 

According to Stack:

“The day has been designed to inform and engage not just those working in directly impacted communities but those working day in and day out throughout the state to raise the quality of life and improve outcomes.  In truth, New Jersey’s entire social sector will feel the impact of this disaster for many years to come regardless of whether they were in the direct line of the storm.  This is why we have enlisted speakers and designed sessions that will provide us with a roadmap of sorts on what to expect.  Our guests will bring insights from 9/11 and Katrina, to the BP Oil Spill and the Alabama Tornedoes.”

Sessions include:
Peering Through the Crystal Ball: Lessons for the Next Phase

Out of the Spotlight: Helping Non-Tourist Communities

Patient Capital: Banking on Long-Term Results

Working Effectively with Government

Beyond Money: How Philanthropy Can Leverage More

The road ahead may be uncertain, but surely navigating it along with an entire state and region dedicated to rebuilding will lead us in unexpected new directions. It can be overwhelming, but if we move forward together, with the help of others who have been in our shoes, the path becomes clear.

“With so much at stake, we need to ensure that we are all traveling this shared road together. -Nina Stack,  President of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers

For more information and the full blog post, visit the Dodge Blog

 Tammy Laverty
New Media Manager
Monmouth Arts 

photo credit:

Ladies First!

 (Emily Grove with David Ford singing her favorite Dylan song, “Oh Sister” at The Saint)

Monmouth County, though still in “recovery mode” after Super Storm Sandy,  is lucky enough to have three emerging major talents (also of the female persuasion) to make it feel like “home” again.  And while  there may be more than that, I’ve narrowed it down to just three for the purposes of this article!  That’s no small task, believe you me, but in this case it wasn’t so difficult after all;  let’s take a look at Emily Grove, Tara Elliot, & Eryn Shewell.  Chances are you’ve heard these names before –but until you’ve heard their music you’re missing more than half of the picture!  And while they all perform in and around Asbury Park here in Monmouth,  their successes take them beyond our County, beyond New Jersey, and dare I say even further!  All three of these women are headed for international stardom and deservedly so…


Emily Grove

Emily Grove has just finished recording a new album and a European tour through Scotland, England & Ireland in support of it.  This is especially big news since she toured with David Ford, who’s getting a lot of attention across the pond.  Even bigger news is that internationally acclaimed producer, Jason Rubal, of Seventh Wave Studios who has become famous for making some of the “most edgy and unique records” has produced her lastest work!  While Ms. Grove may site artists such as Dolores Riordan (Cranberries) and Alanis Morrisette as influences, she’s been compared stylistically in respected music magazines like The Aquarian to legends like Carly Simon, Carole King and John Prine.  When I see pictures of her in her preferred authentic Victorian garb all I can think of is Rasputina!  She performs regularly with Glen Burtnik, an international artist who made his mark playing with Styx most notably, perhaps.  Ms. Grove has won a handful of local music awards including Asbury Music Awards as well as Jersey Acoustic Music Awards.

Tara Elliot

Fellow Top Female Vocalist Asbury Music Award winner, Tara Elliot has been called “The Bastard Child of Janis Joplin and the Stooges” by Thomaxe of New York Waste Newspaper.  If that’s a lot to live up to, Ms. Elliot certainly delivers through her live shows.  Show up and you might get to see Emily Grove painted completely in gold paint while Elliot rips into “Goldfinger” –a song immortalized by Shirley Bassey in a 1964 James Bond film.  Or maybe you’ll catch a rendition of “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” by the likes of Mr. Entertainment himself, Tony Clifton!  Tara Elliott and her band, The Red Velvets, is a bluesy-punk power trio driven by Tara’s red-hot vocals.  Their sound is said to reflect iconic influences by artists like: Muddy Waters, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, The Velvet Underground, & The White Stripes as well as Iggy Pop & the Stooges.  Tara has also been invited to join Glen Burtnick on stage for his Summer of Love concert at the Count Basie Theater which is where she first worked with Emily Grove.  Chris Rotolo, Editor in Chief of Speak into My Good Eye, wrote: “ I’ve said it before and will continue to stress that Tara Elliott and company is in the top tier of Rock N’ Roll acts to call the Jersey Shore Its home.”  Tara is in negotiations now with management that’s worked with some of the biggest names in rock ‘n roll.  You can catch Tara Elliot and The Red Velvets at The Crossroads in Garwood, NJ on May 2nd or May 9th when you’ll be able to win a G & L Tribute Series ASAT Guitar! To see more of what Tara’s up to, click here to get the latest. 


Eryn Shewell

Eryn Shewell has been nominated for Asbury Music Awards since she hit the scene in 2007 and was took home Top Female Vocalist in 2009.  She did it again in 2011 and her band won Top Blues Band that same year!  This year she signed with Blue Raven Entertainment and is working on her third album, the self-titled, “Eryn Shewell” with her new band The Whiskey Devils.  Known as the Jewel of New Jersey, it has been said that Eryn’s incredible vocals have the capability to give even the most hardened critic chills.  Eryn sang with the country band Sundance for 10 years, landing the gig at the tender age of 13.  She sang back up with Jody Joseph and the Average Joes and spent several months with national touring outfit, “Soul Project” and Walter “Wolfman” Washington down in New Orleans.  You can catch her debuting her new album and band at Tim McCloone’s Supper Club in Asbury Park on Sunday, June 2.  The fun begins at 6pm and also features performances by Alice Leon, Jeffrey Gaines and Sandy Mack.  For ticket’s to Eryn’s upcoming band and record debut, click here for tickets:

Things are warming up here in Monmouth County and down on the shore where much love and support is needed.  They’re will be plenty of opportunities to rebuild, help out, do the right thing.  They’re will also be times when you’ll want to kick back and take advantage of some of the local beauty that we enjoy here…  Make sure to take some time to get to know some of these beauties as well:  Emily Grove, Tara Elliot, and Eryn Shewell.  They’re all very different artists with a few common elements:  they’re Monmouth gals, they’re incredibly gifted, and they’re going places!


Carl Chesna

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc