629 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
908-278-1597                         art629gallery@gmail.com


Current Exhibition


“Peace In The Chaos” 

An Art Exhibition Featuring  

Work by Local Artists and Poets

Opening Reception: 

Saturday MAY 15, 2021 from 6-9pm

 629 Cookman Avenue,

 Asbury Park, NJ

On Saturday May 15 from 6-9 pm, art629 gallery will host an opening reception featuring the work of 12 local artists and 4 poets curated by Brittany James. Brittany is a local artist who has been the resident art teacher at art629 for the past 6 years where she teaches life drawing and painting classes, and hosts an open studio.

The exhibit, titled “Peace In The Chaos” will be a showcase of art in different media from New York and New Jersey based artists. For many of us, this past year has unleashed emotions and thoughts that can feel chaotic or out of control. Whether your stress has come from current world events, getting interrupted by your kids on a Zoom meeting, sharing a small space with your partner, trying to figure out how to pay next months rent, worrying about your loved ones, or simply trying to stay healthy and make decisions in the face of the unknown, we've all had a chaotic year. This show represents artists who used the meditative power of creating art to find peace in the chaos during the past year. “Peace In The Chaos” is focused specifically on artists who convey their emotions through the creative process. The exhibit will display a wide range of media from sculpture to painting to poetry.

“Peace In The Chaos” will feature the following artists: Caitlin Kohl, Carol Magnatta, Elizabeth Gregory-Gruen, Ernest Wildenhain, Fermin Mendoza, Jennifer Santa Maria, Jessica Matier, Mallory Massara, Rupa DasGupta, and Vicki Zilatis Stoeckel. In addition, a book of poetry featuring Chris Rockwell, Mark Brunetti, Solange Claws, and Thomas Fucaloro, will be on display and for sale with all proceeds going to Asbury Book Cooperative. The collection of poems chosen for “Peace In The Chaos” were written during National Poetry Month during the social quarantine of 2020.  A book of these poems was published by Mark Brunetti, and the collection consists of reflections about their own writing and experiences at that time. Brittany James, curator, and her partner, gallery owner Patrick Schiavino, will also be displaying art they created while working side by side in their studio during the covid-19 pandemic. Most artists will be attending the opening, and this event is free and open to the public.

 The exhibit will be on display from May 15 through July 10. Gallery hours vary, and it is suggested to call ahead for hours of operation or to make an appointment: (908) 278-1597.

Visitor Guidelines: 

With current occupancy limitations in mind, we will be limiting the number of people in the gallery at one time to ensure that there is adequate space for staff, artists, and visitors to maintain physical distancing
  • All visitors must wear face coverings while in the gallery. 
  • Please respect the 6ft social distancing guidelines while viewing the art.
  • Restrooms will not be open to the public and we ask that you plan your visit with this in mind.

About The Artists

Caitie Kohl     CaitieKohlArt.com

Caitie Kohl’s work explores and plays with the clout of the male libido in our society. Kohl’s hyper-sexualized human female forms are combined with non-human matriarchal creatures, namely the deep-sea anglerfish. Her exciting, often absurd mixed media paintings depict the surreal landscapes of her imagination. 

Caitie Kohl graduated with a B.A. in Studio Art from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa with a focus in Painting and Drawing. Kohl’s paintings have been shown in Honolulu at museums and galleries such as the Honolulu Museum of Art and Cedar Street Gallery, and most recently at Art 629’s “Women’s Work” show. Throughout the pandemic, Caitie has been busy painting, working at a grocery store, and teaching art classes to teens and adults at the Montclair Art Museum.

Carol Magnatta      carolmagnatta.com

I fought my way out of the chaos through floral paintings.  The purity of white flowers kept me sane and distracted. Dark backgrounds brought them to life.  Adding them to my plein air figures could also bring a spark of the absurd and fun to my time of loneliness.  I am grateful that I was able to be playful and at peace in my work.

 Carol has been part of many juried shows and gallery exhibitions in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. For a full list of exhibitions, visit her website. 

Elizabeth Gregory-Gruen  elizabethgregory-gruen.com

Elizabeth Gregory-Gruen’s “CUT WORK” series is an examination of the human condition and emotional experience using original imagery created in a free hand cutting technique using a surgeon’s scalpel. The image is determined in the top layer of paper. There are no guides or planned drawings. An adhesive is added under the top layer followed by another layer of paper, this layer is cut…the process continues creating multiple layers accelerating the velocity of the image. “CUT WORK” images are cut by hand with no guides. A hand to paper relationship eliminates barriers, allowing the freedom to cut with spontaneous fluidity. There are no planned expectations, only discovery. No rules. It is a meditation where imperfection is perfection. The “CUT WORK” process and outcome embodies the very essence of the human condition of contradiction and continual movement. The end result is very precise, the calm that permeates the cut works is challenged by the artist’s introduction of a highly destructive tool. Random 12-gauge shotgun blasts lacerating the perceived “perfection” of the work producing a disruptive visceral reaction. The result is an emotional paradox, an uncontrolled gesture standing in contrast to the seemingly controlled cut edge of the image. “CUT WORK” engages the viewer in a meditative conversation, a place to rest and reflect.

Elizabeth Gregory-Gruen grew up in Chicago. Both her mother and grandmother were artists, introducing Elizabeth to visual thinking at an early age. Imagination was encouraged and inspired Elizabeth to pursue her creative ideas which led her to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design. She received a BFA in Fashion Design and worked in well-known design studios. Elizabeth's work in three - dimensional design was a segue into the rediscovery of the cut paper artwork she made as a child. In 2000, she began developing the technique which she titled 'Cut Work'. The evolution of the 'Cut-Work' continued alongside her work in fashion. The first 'Cut Work' exhibition in 2008, led to more opportunities to continue the work and exhibit. In 2013, Elizabeth left fashion design to focus fully on the 'Cut Work' exploration. Elizabeth currently resides in New York City with her husband photographer Bob Gruen.

Ernest Wildenhain

I am a 1967 graduate of Rutgers University where I studied engineering before taking a degree in art.  While a student, I worked in the administration offices where I displayed and sold my oil paintings to help pay for my tuition.  After graduation I reluctantly put aside my brushes to enter the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant.  In 1969 I became an advisor to Montagnard tribesmen in the central highlands of Vietnam.  Those gentle people were often the victims of discrimination by the Vietnamese majority due to; their lovely yet primitive lifestyle; their Malayo-Polynesian origins; their darker skin color; and their belief in animism (which holds that all objects and living things possess a soul or spirit).  My association with the Montagnards gave me a profound respect for their faith in the beauty of all things – despite the outrages of war.  Their innate sense of equity motivated me to return home and begin the study of law at the University of Denver.  I received my Juris Doctor degree in 1972 and thereafter practiced law as a defense trial attorney here in New Jersey.  While in the courtroom I “painted” pictures with words rather than paint.  

Two years ago I retired and rediscovered my passion for painting.  I have been creating images with gel pens, inks, and pastels which produce vibrant colors that appeal to a more modern sensibility.  It is ironic that the first public showing of my paintings since Vietnam should be at the “Peace in the Chaos” exhibition.  My images are part of a larger group inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman whose words of transcendental realism echo the animism of the Montagnard people.  Whitman’s words have remained contemporary and relevant more than a century after his death.  Like Whitman, it is my goal to paint images which are beautiful and timeless.  

Fermin Mendoza   website: Fermin Mendoza

Fermin Mendoza was born in Las Villas, Cuba, and in the early 1960s, his family emigrated to New York City to flee Fidel Castro’s regime. Mr. Mendoza studied painting at the School of Visual Arts in New York and County College of Morris in Randolph, NJ. He has been exhibiting his paintings in the New York tri-state area since the 1990s and creating murals since 2014.

This series of paintings "Off the Grid" chronicles my dark journey and was planned before the pandemic, it came to fruition in the middle of it, which makes it very meaningful for many reasons. Overall it is not a message that is tied to this very specific global event, but instead it is a universal idea that can be applied to any disaster of any scale. The repetition of random and very unique visual motifs (stencils used to create the grid) work not only as a background for the entire series but also serve to streamline the themes and narrative of each painting. The paintings are darkly atmospheric encapsulating the mood I was going for, they are mostly bleak, dark, and dirty, but at the same time there is a feeling of bright conciseness that never allows them to become visually confusing.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Can we watch our world being completely destroyed by corporate greed, misinformation, pollution, racism, climate change, war, and political extremism? The added fears, of isolation and eco-fascism can make these paintings feel like a commentary on the social response to the global pandemic that is still happening. My journey starts in a psychedelic post-apocalyptic “Off the Grid” world in which everyone has lost hope in just about everything. Almost as if a group of people strongly believe technology and modern science is what caused humanity’s downfall. Can we exile ourselves from society and go live outside of populated areas, with no hope in technology or spiritual redemption in sight?

We are now constantly struggling to find balance in a world divided in two opposite ideologies that are (but should not be) mutually exclusive. Because of this, I do not not condemn the more civilized technology-oriented side of the conflict, nor naturalistic Luddites that choose to live outside of the world. If anything, I’m using this divide to define and look for what our main strengths have always been.There are many layers to my story in play here, because this is not just a bunch of paintings about the end of the world. It is not about the end of humanity, nor the end of the capacity to care for each other, create, and sustain something together. At the same time, I’ve retold stories from the past, re-created natural beauty, trying to make some sense of it all and show what is left of value in our world. I bring you the message of hope, of trying to find humanity even under the harshest, most difficult circumstances is beautiful and necessary, and it comes just at the right moment. My journey continues.

Jennifer Santa Maria     www.flametipstudio.com
It is my 12th year designing eggs using the traditional batik method, a process typically passed down from mother to daughter for thousands of years. This originally pagan craft now known as pysanky is a slavic tradition that is both art and prayer. Having not grown up with this art in my family, I consider myself a batik egg artist since my imagery is not traditional or associated with Christianity. I follow whatever my inspiration may be, whether it is in color exploration, pattern development, sacred geometry, art nouveau aesthetic or greek-inspired motifs. The eggs on display for the "Peace in Chaos" exhibition feature designs that have been worked time and time again until I get closer to perfection and can retire a design. These eggs are truly one of a kind, after having done dozens of sketches on eggs and years of developing my skills.  They are drawn with wax that flows from a tool known as a kistka and melted off at the end of the process. This big reveal is something I look forward to with every work I complete. Sometimes after many hours of working I can only conclude I must do the entire work again. Some eggs seen here are after several dozen attempts. Although this medium is associated with the spring, my dyes are out year round. Becoming a master of this art form requires so much devotion and patience that the supplies must always be at arms reach.

 I've had many fulfilling opportunities to teach all over the East Coast passing on this therapeutic and meditative process to others. I have taught thousands of people, many of which were Ukrainian and Polish, and encouraged meaningful conversation around family history and this ancient art. All participants continue to leave my workshops with a deeper understanding of the culture, the art, and themselves. The finished works leave no insight into the process and I encourage any interested viewer to ask questions or do some independent research. 

Jessica Matier    https://jessicamatier.com/

Jessica Matier attended Parsons School of Design. In 2016 she departed from watercolor and collage practices to pursue a mixed media approach to abstract painting. Her work was in group exhibitions in the New York City, New Jersey, Chicago, FSU Museum of the Arts, and The Other Art Fair, Brooklyn. In 2019 Rutgers University acquired the painting, Natural Things, on display at the Camden Center of the Arts. Matier was born in South Korea in 1985. When she was three months old, she was adopted and raised in New Jersey, where she currently resides.


I create internal landscapes to illustrate the flow of energy to dispense overlooked ideas that subconsciously dictate my present thoughts and actions. I intend to create opportunities for self-growth, and in effect, illustrate the collective progression of humankind. I add mythical and alchemical symbols to punctuate self autobiographical images to serve as references for the metastory based on the transcendence of everyday lives into ideal states of being.

I utilize all water-based mediums at a vigorous pace to execute a painting without interruption from second thoughts and trivial tangents. The interactions between the mediums transmute themselves into an image appearing out of an unknown origin. I simultaneously amplify the materiality through pastel mark-making and brushstrokes of acrylic to differentiate between the abstract subjects within a piece. The variety of visual elements intend to invoke harmony, translating into a sense of inner peace.

Mallory Massara

Taking inspiration from the beauty of a sunrise, or the way light dances on the surface of water, my works are not literal or representational. Instead focusing on the aesthetic; shapes, colors and compositions that are pleasing, soothing and joyous. I paint to share that joy with others. In this time of isolation and fear, I find it freeing to escape into the endless possibilities of a canvas. My tools vary depending on the effect I am seeking. Oil for those moments of freedom and movement, paired with palate knives and trowels; drawing inspiration from Abstract Expressionism. Brushes and acrylic for the moments of order and control. 

Rupa DasGupta   www.anoctopusaday.com

Rupa DasGupta is a multimedia artist and designer from Asbury Park, NJ, who has chosen octopuses as her vehicle for exploring color, line, texture, and repetition over the last decade, drawing and painting over 1,000 octopuses for her An Octopus a Day project. Even when exploring other subjects, the amorphous fluid grace of cephalopods and other marine life suffuses her work. This series from early 2021 was inspired by the spectacular kelp forests that provide the backdrop for the documentary My Octopus Teacher

Vicki Zilatus Stoeckel  VickiZDesigns

Vicki Zilaitis Stoeckel is a ceramics artist who works out of her home studio in Atlantic  Highlands, NJ. Her work is an evolution of hand-built pieces grown out of her  exploration of various clay bodies, glazes, and firing techniques. Vicki is attracted to  working with clay because of its organic nature and the complicated technical aspects  required to transform a lump of clay into a beautiful piece of art.  

Most of Vicki’s pieces grow organically from her interaction with clay and the  environmental influences of the times. The protests in 2020, museum visits to NYC,  worries for our planet and the solitude this virus has forced on everyone across the  world, all contribute to the emotions that shape Vicki’s unique sculptures. Working with  clay has given her a sense of purpose, calm and a needed escape from the world.  Building an expression of hope, anger, or mystery into a mound of clay makes her feel  connected to the earth and the human condition.  

After receiving her BFA from the University of South Florida in 1981, Vicki began a  diverse successful 20-year career in engineering & networking. This career enabled her  to combine her creative nature and the desire to tackle technical obstacles. In the early  1990’s, she shared a ceramics studio with her mentor and fellow artist, Beatrice  Langdolt in Hopewell, NJ. She experimented with body casts, colored clays and  discovered porcelain. In 1999, Vicki became a mother and stepped away from clay for  the next 20 years.  

In 2019, an opportunity to be a resident artist at a private studio in French Lick, IN was  offered. She spent 6 months there and had plans of returning when the Covid Pandemic  hit. Knowing that being creative was the only way to maintain composure in 2020, she  created a small home studio and enrolled in classes offered by the Monmouth County  park system where she began experimenting with Raku firing techniques in March  2020. 

Vicki works primarily in porcelain and stoneware. She loves the interactive process and  magical effects that occur from the Raku method of firing. This process is fast, smokey  and hot! With this method of firing the outcome is unique, the clay gets infused with  cracks darkened by carbon and mysterious results appear, as if the clay takes on its  own mood.  

Brittany James   BrittanyJamesArt.com

 As a Jersey Shore native, Brittany began painting in Island Heights in 1995 with mentor Elaine Sgambati. She graduated from MSU with a BFA degree concentrated in oil painting in 2009 and has been a full-time artist ever since. In addition to painting, Brittany teaches art classes for children and teens at Inspired Minds Fine Art School in Lincroft. She also teaches painting and life drawing classes for adults at art629 Gallery where she curates exhibitions and runs an open studio for local artists. Brittany has painted live on stage at several NJ theaters. She has been a muralist and featured artist for the Asbury Underground Art & Music Crawl, and has shown her work in several New Jersey galleries.

All of Brittany’s paintings are derived from a combination of photo references and imagined scenes to create surreal images. Most of her paintings are about the relationships between women and nature, and women’s roles in society.  Brittany’s philosophy is that artists are seekers, always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths in the world around us. Nothing is exactly as it seems and reality is often hidden behind illusions. She has represented this theme in many of her paintings which are often inspired by dreams, memories, and life experiences.  

During the early lockdown period of 2020 Brittany began experimenting with abstract art, something completely different from her usual style. She began using different paint dripping and splattering techniques and new materials such as latex house paint, enamel, and gold leaf. Painting has always been her way of staying calm when everything around her is hectic. She says, "It is my safe way of temporarily escaping reality when needed."

Patrick Schiavino  patrickschiavino.com

Patrick is a self-taught artist, and owner/founder of art629.  A native of New Jersey, he is a graduate of Montclair State College, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Arts and Design. He has spent most of his life working in the arts and music businesses.

In year 2000, he purchased the building at 629 Cookman Avenue which is now art629 Gallery.  The building serves as both a gallery, studio, and home. Patrick is also the founder of Asbury Underground which he started in 2013.  Asbury Underground is a major festival held in the downtown business district of Asbury Park every October and January.  The Underground is an art and music “crawl” that includes over 30 venues hosting over 100 shows featuring performances by singer-songwriters, spoken word artists and comics.

Patrick's main focus over the last decade or more has been as a realtor, developer, and faithful devotee to the restoration of Asbury Park, but the quarantine time of 2020 gave him time to paint and focus on being an artist.