July 14, 2010

The Jersey Shore

Two Towers, Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey, 1979, oil on canvas, 20 x 28 inches

Today I am heading down to the Jersey Shore for a few days to visit my parents and family. I spent the summers of my youth in Bradley Beach and have fond memories of sand and waves, peeling sunburn and outdoor showers, walking to the beach with bare feet slapping against paving. And jellyfish, sand crabs, jetties and boardwalk.

Another activity which held great fascination were drives to nearby towns, such as Spring Lake, Deal, and Ocean Grove, to look at the old sprawling houses, with their grand porches and complex structure, quite a marvel to see for a kid from Brooklyn. I believe that these summer architectural tours were the seminal influence in my early paintings of domestic, mainly Victorian, architecture. In 1979 I spent the summer at the shore, painting 'portraits' of the sometimes fanciful houses. At that time I worked completely on the site, en plein air, going back day after day, taking 3 or 4 months to complete a painting. I had morning and afternoon paintings for sunny days, and for cloudy days, and one going indoors for days that it rained. In the 1980s I enlarged my focus to include landscape around the houses, which became agricultural landscape; in later years my focus narrowed again, to farm machinery. But it began with the house on the Jersey shore.

See you next week!


  1. What a gorgeous place Two Towers is and what a beautiful portrait you made of it! I haven't been to the towns you mention, but have spent many summer vacations in Avalon, NJ, and a few in Cape May, which this reminds me of.

  2. hi Mona, I'm glad that you like the two towers of the houses in Avon. I've visited Cape May and loved the Victorian architecture there; it's a marvelous town.

  3. I remember these paintings, seeing them in the co-op galleries shows, and being so blown away.
    Muscular yet airy, precise and poetic.
    1979, but it could just as well have been last week in memory - so clear they remain!

  4. nice to read how you got from yesterday to today.

  5. Kim, wow, you remember these paintings, and so appreciately too! thanks so much.
    and rappel, it's interesting to make a timeline of how we got from there to here; glad you liked reading about mine.

    Meanwhile, yesterday we took a couple of drives to see houses along the shore, and to visit the Bradley Beach beach, which is completely different from what it was years ago. Nothing stays the same, not even our memories.

  6. I love that crazy red cone, Altoon--not to mention the red polygons and triangles...

  7. thanks so much, Susan. Those old houses are full of surprises.