CAPE MAY — Artist/jeweler Janet Payne and potter Mary Bryne will display their works at the Harbor Gallery, with an opening reception to meet the artists 4 to 6 p.m. June 4.
All artwork is for sale, with a portion of sales going to support the Nature Center of Cape May.
“This coastal art exhibit is a great way to celebrate World Oceans Day, which is June 8th,” said Gretchen Whitman, sanctuary director of the Nature Center of Cape May. According to worldoceanday.org, “On World Ocean Day, people around our blue planet celebrate and honor our one shared ocean, that connects us all.”
The show will remain on exhibit for the month of June. The Harbor Gallery is at New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Ave. The Nature Center will follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Face coverings are required.
Payne, known for her beautiful sea glass jewelry, has discovered a new medium for this show. Her artwork is made from beach trash. Each morning as Payne walks the beach, searching for sea glass for her jewelry, she picks up the plastic trash and marine debris she finds along the way. Her playful fish are created from these bits and pieces. Once all the pieces are cleaned and in place, the fish are painted with a touch of whimsy. She likens the process to creating a three-dimensional puzzle. Her wreaths are made from ghost nets and ropes found on her beach walks.
“After seeing bits of micro plastic on the strand line in Hawaii five years ago, I started picking up trash on my daily beach walks. Beach trash and marine debris are very hazardous to sea life as well as shore birds and other coastal creatures. Picking up beach trash is a way to show my gratitude towards the sea for all of the treasures it washes ashore for me to find,” Payne said. “I want these fish to be conversation starters. I want people to look at them and say, ‘Wow! That’s a cool fish — wait a minute is that a hair comb — a lens cap — a plastic fork — the brim of a baseball cap?’ I want people to start thinking about their everyday plastic use, especially single-use plastic like plastic water bottles, and hopefully make some changes.”
Each fish comes with a list of items to search for. Payne’s sea glass jewelry can be found at Whale’s Tale and Splash in Cape May and at janetpaynejewelry.com She will also be at the West Cape May Farmers Market this summer.
Byrne is a clay artist who is influenced by the ever-changing sea and shoreline. “My three-mile daily walks on the beach inform my work. I’m inspired by the natural forms of shells and seaweed, by the colors of the sea and the worn driftwood found on the beach,” Byrne said. In her Town Bank studio, she creates colorful ceramic shells, starfish and other nature inspired sculptural forms, often with melted glass accents. These handmade pieces are incorporated with found driftwood to create unique intricate coastal wall art and sculptures. Byrne’s skill at the potter’s wheel is evident in her bowls and platters. Created in the colors of the sea, they are adorned with her handmade starfish and other sea creatures. Byrne’s work is brought together by her sense of movement, an obvious nod to the ebb and flow of the tides. This is evident in her abstract sculptural pieces as well as her larger vessels. Byrne’s work can also be found at The Madd Potter’s Studio in Cape May.
The Harbor Gallery will feature local artists each month, with an opening reception on the first Friday of the month. July’s exhibit will feature the work of Hali MacLaren and the fish created by various artists for the Nature Center’s “Catch of Cape May” online auction and fundraiser. For more information, contact the Nature Center of Cape May at 609-427-3045.