Home » Locals Art Space: An Art-Dedicated Community Hub in Asbury Park

Locals Art Space: An Art-Dedicated Community Hub in Asbury Park

by Sarah Griesbach
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In the narrow slip of a commercial space at 408 Main Street sits Locals Art Space, the spot to keep up with to attend fun exhibition opening receptions, workshops run by community artists, and to support and befriend Asbury Park artists. Read on to learn all about the past, present, and future of Locals Art Space in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

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A Small But Mighty Art Gallery

That some 65 artworks by more than a dozen artists could be hung on the walls and placed on pedestals throughout the undeniably small Local Art Space Gallery would seem unlikely if not observed. That the exhibitions held there are beautifully hung without appearing crowded is truly a wonder. Miracles are what founding artist Patricia Arroyo aims for when hosting the gallery’s monthly exhibitions. The themes she presents for artists to consider when submitting their artworks for consideration are testimony to that ambition —  the first exhibition theme of 2024 is Peace and Love.

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^ Locals Art Space member artist, Robert Calabrese. Photo Credit: Locals Art Space

Locals Art Space opening receptions typically take place on the first Saturday of every month. There, member artists and art enthusiasts from near and far come together for a tempest of good feeling in a teapot of a space. That is unless the weather is good. In this case, Locals Art Space increases its dimensions with an outdoor area almost quadruple the square footage of what lies within. There’s space for a big tent out back and props to build out a fantasy festivity that looks suspiciously similar to some of the artwork produced by Patricia. 

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After two years of running Locals Art Gallery, Patricia found that she’d collected a generous and dedicated group of supporters for the project. With the help of many a local dynamo, Locals was declared a 501(c)(3) in 2022. Like that application process, many aspects related to the development of the gallery have been taken on by members who share Patricia’s vision of it as an adaptable artistic forum.

Patricia Arroyo Loves to Share

Sharing the labor, and the accomplishments, is how Locals Art Space keeps its doors open Thursday through Sunday. Sharing is natural for Patricia. She shares her memories in her artwork, her love for the iconic places and magical moments that are seared into the collective consciousness when Asbury Park comes to mind. Her paintings of dreamlike scenes of this storied seaside town elicit the feeling of having been at all the very coolest Asbury Park places at exactly that golden moment when this spot could feel like a place far away and outside of the rest of the world while also the center of the universe.

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For many years, Patricia focused her creative energies on her Tillie’s Funhouse artworks, celebrating buildings, settings, and historical moments that are quirky, cool, and quintessentially Asbury Park. Those paintings were inspired largely by the rambling, raucous joys of her childhood. Unlike the Palace Amusements era she has depicted so thoroughly, Patricia’s artworks are likely to endure the test of time as she prints her paintings on countless surfaces, keeping them affordable and, thus, ubiquitous.

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Patricia remembers her Asbury Park youth through the rosy colors of sunrise over the ocean. Her creative spirit was nurtured by her youth of watching her Puerto Rican father build, fix, and improve all of the objects in their midst as she ran free among the haunted houses and hand-built carnie world all around her. Just as Patricia sees moments of magic when she reflects back upon Asbury Park history, so too does she feel buoyed by the magic of Asbury Park neighbors coming together to share in the excitement of making a creative gathering space where she and they can support one another’s dreamiest artwork.

Room For Growth

Despite the tiny physical location of Locals Art Space, the gallery is a perfect place from which to grow a budding art career. Patricia has brought in emerging artists who were joyously surprised by their access to exhibiting. Locals Art Space provides the entre those new-to-showing artists need, often welcoming first-time exhibitors into the monthly exhibitions. Patricia can look back at the roster of artists who have shown on Local’s walls and spot name after name of artists whose careers have seen impressive success since she encouraged their exhibiting debut.

New ideas around programming are always welcome at Locals Art Space. Member artists often offer classes and workshops that highlight their expertise, keeping the energy sparking. Locals Art Space is also open to serving non-art related purposes community members might conceive for it. Anyone can book the gallery for events.

See More: Your Guide to Jersey City Art Galleries

The creative can-do of Locals Art Space has been tucked into a few hidden spaces of the little gallery— including its bathroom. It is not uncommon for an artist who’s been boxed in by restraints of one kind or another to use the obstacles obstructing them as inspiration and turn their box into an artwork. The Art as Medicine installation in the cabinet above the bathroom sink is a prime example of the power of artful thinking. 

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Artful thinking is the guiding principle of Locals Art Space. It is brimming over with collaborations that turn eyes. On the center counter of the gallery gangway, sit two hats that Kenny Schuyler built out of thrifted materials. He bleached jeans to produce the tophats that Patricia then painted, a project that sits firmly in Kenny’s — no waste — art practice.

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Found objects also play a role in the formation of Michael Rosol’s delightful robot sculptures and are in Lisa Bagwell’s fabulous ocean objects sculpted works. In fact, principled attention to the people, structures, and nature around them is a shared material that connects Locals Art Space members’ practices, making a raucous collection of their varied artworks come together to form exhibitions that feel less like curated individual artworks and more like parts of a beautiful whole.

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