A group of crafters have arrived to transform Gardner's Basin
They could be the gang from Gilligan's Island, these artists, washed ashore on an Atlantic City Inlet next to the aquarium, setting up their cottage-like workshops, forming a community and simply waiting for the people to come.
And the people have come, the boats are pulling up, the folks on foot are ambling by and visitors to the Atlantic City area who stop at the restaurants in Gardner's Basin for a bite to eat or to visit the AC Aquarium on New Hampshire Avenue now have a new experience to enjoy, the ability to meet, greet and watch some wonderful artists at work.
The Crafters at Gardner's Basin, which the Atlantic City Historic Waterfront Foundation opened in July, consists of a group of working artists in six wooden sheds placed attractively on the beautiful waterfront of Absecon Inlet. They are a unique group, eager to make this project work and to offer an alternative experience to visitors to the area who might like to do a little shopping of the home-made kind.
In Garden Gems, Nadine Leeds and Fran Reilly are custom-making jewelry and talking about their wares. Along with Darryl Behrend and Peggy Barry, the foursome creates ceramics that are all kiln-fired and painted with outdoor acrylics so they can be placed outdoors in a garden or along a walkway.
"We have fairies and cherubs or ferubs and cherries as she said one particularly busy day," the genial Reilly says laughing, motioning to Leeds.
And they also have gargoyle fountains, dragons, incense-holders, unicorns and that leafy, spirit of the forest, the ever-popular "Green Man."
As they were speaking, Mike and Donna Scheuermann of Galloway Township motored in to pick up an order they had placed for a custom-designed two foot fairy.
"Donna was a little worried about taking it back in the boat but they are going to bubble-wrap it and I said we could have wrapped it in a blanket," says Mike. "I think these shops are a nice enhancement to the boating experience, you can eat and then linger for awhile; it's a great after-dinner activity."
At AC Glass Works, Amy Carew Sturgis was busy fashioning a Hawaiian shirt out of pieces of glass and sitting amidst the other fine examples of her work, graceful dragonflies, bejeweled-colored bottle stoppers, lovely hanging pieces of stained glass and mini-glass surfboards dual-hued in blue/green, navy blue/yellow, lilac pink/pearl white all dangling prettily from ribbons.
|AC Glass Works' Amy Carew Sturgis.|
Sturgis paused to wrap a dragonfly she had sold to Marsha Galaspie, an area resident.
"Everybody helps each other out around here." says Sturgis, "I teach Technical Theatre during the school year and I usually get a part time retail job during the summer, but when I saw the ad advertising for craftspeople to come here, I decided to go ahead and try it out."
Next door, Jane Cerino of Arts Desire was stringing together ankle bracelets that she will design on the spot for anyone who stops in, a great gift idea for the teenager on your shopping list who can come in, pick out their own beads and have a one-of-a kind bracelet fashioned to their own liking.
Cerino also wires together colored sea glass with pieces of driftwood and strings bits of glass leaves and turquoise acorns to fashion small whimsical pieces of art.
Jim Palmer, watercolorist, and Bill Wood, who says he "works behind the scenes" with framing and hanging the artwork, were both taking a break for lunch at a picnic table next to their Gallery by the Sea cottage where Palmer's portraits and prints of lighthouses and seascapes are for sale.
Down at Tuntuneco Art and Sal's Army, Amil Droz was working on masks that he fashions from coconuts and paper mache. He and his partner, Sally Erskine, a silkscreen painter, inhabit a space that provides a fantastic jolt of color and exotic history to any visitor's experience at the marina.
Droz, who was born in Manhattan but grew up in Puerto Rico, says he always had an interest in Indian art.
"My brother-in-law and I would go up into the mountains on archeological digs and find these carvings in stone which we would dig up, draw, take photos of and then we'd put them back, bury them somewhere else," he says.
Today, Droz continues this early interest, carving his figures on stone, wood and clay. He also teaches the basics of mask painting for teachers and students in workshops and schools.
It’s been very weird. When I decided to self-publish my book in Dec. 2009, I did it because an agent in New York told me — and this is pre-Obama — that nobody’s interested in black history now. I said, ‘What?’ And she said, ‘Nobody is interested. That’s just the truth.’ Then, I think it was in April, HBO calls me.
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