In LBI Local Art

I’m not an artist, but much of my life and work revolves around art in one form or another. So, it’s only natural that I think about art all the time. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how local artwork has always been essential to the natural flow of life on Long Beach Island.

Over my lifetime on this beautiful barrier Island, I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of knowing many of LBI’s local artists. I am fortunate to spend my days here, in my gallery shop, Things A Drift, surrounded by the artwork of some of LBI’s best contemporary artists. Frequently, guests in my gallery are surprised to learn that LBI has a thriving artist community and that historically, the Island has long been a haven where artist come for inspiration, young artists are nurtured, and art flourishes.

My oldest sister, Gay, was part of LBI’s artist community in the 1950s; she was taught by iconic sculptor, Boris Blai and knew local LBI art legends like Marvin Levitt. I never understood how extraordinary this was until many years later. As her younger sister, I thought having a world-famous Russian sculptor as a teacher was normal because at our house it was just a part of everyday life.

Many artists came to LBI, some came to stay, and others, like watercolor artist Carol Freas, originated here. Working from the unique perspective of her lifetime on Long Beach Island, Carol captures the spirit of the Island in her transparent watercolors of blue skies, billowing white clouds, beaches, and finely detailed iconic scenes and accurate depictions of historical landmarks. Frequently there’s a subtle humor and playfulness in her still life and sea life pieces. Carol’s art reflects her love of the Island and passion for its history in what I like to call artistic localism.

Carol grew up on LBI and still lives locally. She is a signature member of the Philadelphia Water Color Society and has been an instructor at The Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences for twenty-seven years, a member of the Pine Shores Art Association, and a participant in the annual Painted Poetry Exhibition. She also exhibits her artwork at the annual LBI Sea Glass and Art Festival in October. During the festival she demonstrates watercolor painting techniques. It’s an ideal time to meet Carol and watch her paint.

The artwork created by Carol Freas and other LBI artists is compelling on many levels, and I believe it is an important part of the unique experience of LBI and its history. More than just pretty pictures in coastal colors, local artwork has meaning. Local artists are inspired by their love of LBI and influenced by the Island’s people, culture, natural beauty, and history. Their work reflects a personal connection to the Island and sense of belonging. And by capturing the world around them in their artwork, local artists create an ongoing visual history of LBI. For all these reasons their artwork is significant. It makes us think and feel, stirring memories of sand and sea, wind and waves, the scent of a salt breeze, the sensation of sand underfoot and a sense of belonging that draws us back to LBI.

Purchasing local artwork supports the artists and art community of Long Beach Island. It’s also an opportunity to own an original works of art created by a local artist. Original paintings by Carol Freas and the artworks of other local artists are available at Things A Drift.

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