Artists and guests enjoy the art629 pre-festival party. Credit: Brenda Hamlet

The Sea.Hear.Now Festival, (SHN) is an annual celebration of music, art and ocean sustainability has long been the main event for Asbury Park beach and boardwalk since 2018.  Produced by rock photographer Danny Clinch, Tim Donnelly, HM Wollman, and Tim Sweetwood, this year’s line-up featuring headliners Sheryl Crow, The Foo Fighters, The Beach Boys and our own Alexander Simone brought locals and weekenders together in a reverie of dance and song on the North Beach and Bradley Park. The sold-out event attracted some 35,000 people each day to Asbury’s Northeast side, along the sea and boardwalk.   Typically, that leaves the downtown district vacant as few venture toward Cookman.

This year, art629 curator, Brittany James and her partner gallery owner Patrick Schiavino set out to change that.

“Normally, SHN takes people away from downtown, so we decided to put on a show and a pre-festival party to attract people up this way. I gathered together the artists and Patrick organized “Friday Night Downtown events”, an “Asbury Underground” music crawl taking place at various shops and establishments around Cookman.”

The party, featuring Mike Noorday’s Sleaze Grease, a multicolored light show and Asbury-themed works by 15 local artists curated by James, captured the attention of art collectors and festival goers. James is pleased by the success of the event. “We sold ten works that night and today, and we are still selling. Today, I just sold one of my paintings, titled, “Float On”. 

Taking inspiration from SHN (part of the proceeds from SHN goes toward ocean sustainability projects), “Float On” features a beautiful sea goddess with long red locks surrounded by jelly fish encased in bubbles.  The title is inspired by the song, “Bubble Toes” by Jack Johnson and the album “Flow State” by Tash Sultana.

Float On by Brittany James Art Credit: Brenda Hamlet

 “Float On” was used as inspiration for a mural on display and revealed for the first time Saturday/Sunday 9/16-9/17 at “Stokehenge” during SHN.

The show features two additional works also viewable as a mural on the Asbury Wastewater Treatment Plant Building at 1700 Kingsley St. in Asbury:  “Fish On!”  by Judi Hull and “Fly” by Judith Harzer.

Four photographs by M.C. O’Connor are iconic images best associated with Asbury Park, titled “Steve Van Zandt”, “The Lanes”, “Bruce Springsteen” and “Morning Medusa.” Equally evocative are the photographs on Metal by Steve Miller titled, “Moonbeam”, “Starry Lights”, and “Greetings from Asbury Park.”

Of the many multi-media pieces on exhibit, two are standouts. 

Four photographs by M. C. O’Connor: Steve Van Zandt, The Lanes, Bruce Springsteen and Morning Medusa Credit: Brenda Hamlet

“Maxbury Park” by Michelle Renee Bernard is a mixed media piece on wood cradle board depicting vintage inspired graphics of the Asbury Palace Amusement Park such as 50 cent ice cream cones and — of course — fries in a cardboard take-away holder.

Quasonna Moore’s photographs, “Locals Only,” “Hood Politics,” “No Propaganda,” and “King of the Court,” also draw their inspiration from the Asbury Street life, depicting everyday images of neighborhood life.

“Urban Redux: Asbury Downtown ‘Intersection,”(Bond-Cookman-Bangs-gARTen), by Tom White is a set of four archival pigment prints on cotton rag. It is made of original photographs and digitally painted materials collected from Asbury Park City streets to form a collage, in what the artist terms, “a spontaneous mash-up.” Each artwork is named for the street where the source materials (found objects) were taken.

Maxbury Park by Michelle Renee Bernard, mixed media piece on wood cradle board Credit: Brenda Hamlet
King of the Court by Quasonna Moore Credit: Brenda Hamlet
Fly: Carousel (Horse and Girl) by Judith Harzer Credit: Brenda Hamlet
Urban Redux: Four archival pigment prints on cotton rag Credit: Brenda Hamlet

Brenda Hamlet is a journalist covering trends in the media and arts. Brenda lives in Asbury Park and teaches writing at Kean University. Her contributions will focus on the state of the Arts in Asbury Park.

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