It’s easy to get used to the natural beauty that surrounds you. While a traveler from a landlocked state might stop dead in his tracks to marvel at the wonders of the incredible seascapes of the Jersey Shore, to many of us locals, they fade into the background, as marshlands and oceans alike become merely a common site for those who are lucky enough to live among them.
But for local painter Tim Faherty, their beauty is never overlooked. In fact, the subtle and not-so-subtle charms of the Jersey Shore are the central focus of his first solo show — “Tidelands” – that will run to Jan. 29 at the Ocean City Arts Center, with a Meet the Artist reception to be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan 14.
Some good ‘Press’
Faherty’s name may ring a bell for some readers, as he worked as both a journalist and as the head of the graphics department for The Press of Atlantic City for more than 30 years. But after retiring only a few years ago, he has once again reignited his love of creating art purely for the joy of it, a concept that goes back to his earliest days.
“I’ve always had a pencil in my hand ever since I was little,” Faherty says. “In fact, when I was a kid, my aunt and uncle were worried about me because I had this habit of drawing even when I didn’t have a pencil in my hand, so I would be sitting there at dinner with my hand moving all over the place. Eventually they asked what was wrong and I said, ‘I’m just drawing pictures in my head.’”
The pictures in Faherty’s head have only gotten more vivid and expressive throughout the different chapters of his life. And his ability to bring them to life on a canvas – whether it’s in oils, pastels or acrylics – is impressive to say the least.
“I painted when I was in college, and I’ve always done some work on the side,” he says. “When I stopped working at The Press, I wanted to get back to creating art with my hands. I had been working on a computer using Photoshop and Illustrator for so long to tell a story, but I think I’m still telling stories in my art.”
Clearly Faherty’s knack for storytelling has successfully transferred to his most recent work, as “Tidelands” feels about as cohesive a collection of paintings as humanly possible.
“This whole show is a love letter to the Jersey Shore,” he says. “It’s very much oriented toward that area where the sea meets the land. I’ve done some different kinds of things, but this is very much a show about the beaches, the wetlands and the bays.
“When I was growing up, I lived in Ewing Township, which is in the western part of New Jersey, and we would only get to the Jersey Shore maybe once a year. And when you got here you would cross that bridge and smell the salt air and get all excited. It wasn’t until years later that I ended up moving to this area. So I still have that sort of excitement and amazement when I see certain things, and in my work I am trying to reflect those feelings.”
Much of the excitement reflected by Faherty comes across not only in the bigger and more obvious elements of the shore such as the ocean itself, but in the ways human beings interact with those elements.
“The shore isn’t just a place to go, it’s an experience to have,” he says. “I like to paint the interactions that people have with the shore, whether that’s the lifeguards in their boat crashing through a wave or the way the Route 52 bridge has become a sort of tourist attraction unto itself.”
But beyond the beauty of how it all looks on the canvas, is there a true goal to Faherty’s art? Yeah, in a way there is.
“Springsteen says that songs don’t really teach people things, but that they remind people of things. And I think visual art can do the same thing,” Faherty concludes. “I hope my paintings remind people of things, whether that’s reminding you that you had a great day at the beach and that you love Sea Isle City or reminding you of how fragile all of this is and that the things that we love about the shore aren’t guaranteed, that we have to guard them or they will disappear.”