Joan Mabry is not entirely sure where her love of art came from, but she believes that she was born with the desire to make it.
“It has never been clear to me what the impulse to make art is, or where it comes from, but it seems to me both innate and essential,” she said during her artist statement this weekend at a reception celebrating her work at Manchester's branch of the Ocean County Library.
Mabry was born in New Jersey and moved to Florida in 1982. Art was put on the back burner for many years while she raised her family.
But now, Mabry is back in her native state — living in Whiting — and is being honored by the Friends of the Manchester Library with a public art display through September.
Mabry took an assortment of art classes at the Art Students League, the New School, and was a drawing major at Pratt Institute in the late 70s.
This gallery is her first solo exhibit since college. Her exhibit includes a variety of types of art.
“I use many different media-charcoal, oils, pastels, and acrylic. There is something to be said for consistency and sticking with one thing, but I like that art is an open field,” she said.
“Sometimes I do representation and sometime abstract. I never thought they were mutually exclusive, although some artists do. I like the openness and the freedom, but every artist is different.”
One of her favorite things to paint is seed pods.
“I collect seed pods. They are just magnificently beautiful. Inside, the seeds fit together like a wooden puzzle. They are brown, but I paint them in color,” she said.
Mabry used to draw people that she saw while traveling on the subway when she lived in Manhattan. She also created several pastel self-portraits while looking in the mirror.
“Hiring a model is expensive — I am a cheap model,” she joked.
Alice Grega, co-chair of the Art Committee of The Friends of the Manchester Library, explained how Mabry was chosen.
“Typically we distribute our flyers to Ocean County Artists Guild and post flyers at different senior community centers. The Art committee then reviews portfolio submissions to decide which artists can have a show,” she said.
“The Art Mommittee meets three times per year and we have already filled all artist slots through 2013,” Grega added.
Mabry is determined to keep making art. She is very comfortable with charcoal and chalk, but would now like to start doing more oil paintings.
”Some of my art I like, some of it embarrasses me, but I just keep doing it,” she said.
The gallery is open to the public at the Ocean County Library's Manchester branch located at 21 Colonial Dr.