LONG BRANCH, NJ — Memorial Day weekend is traditionally that time of year when the beaches and boardwalks of the Jersey Shore come fully back to life; a time of renewed energy and a return to the promise of the season. For the 14th consecutive year, the official kickoff to summer also marks the re-appearance of Art in the Park in Long Branch — this time with a renewed sense of purpose.

February’s devastating fire in the West End neighborhood of Long Branch displaced numerous residents and destroyed several longstanding businesses on the Brighton Avenue block across from West End Park, home to the Art in the Park event. For the 2012 edition of what’s become one of the biggest outdoor art happenings in the state, the Long Branch Arts Council and Long Branch Historical Association join together in a renewed commitment to the vitality of West End, and its continued importance in the cultural landscape of coastal New Jersey.

Last year’s 13th annual edition was among the most successful ever, with more than 50 participating artists enjoying perfect weather and record turnout. On Sunday, May 27, the people who bring you Art in the Park invite artists from all over NJ to take part in our 14th outdoor art fair, going on from 10am to 5:30pm just one block from the beach, at the corner of Ocean and Brighton Avenues.

We’re particularly interested in submissions in the categories of Works on Paper, Works on Canvas, Sculpture, Mixed Media, Photography, Ceramics, and Special Materials (including wood, glass or plastic) — so whether you’re a seasoned professional or a relative newcomer, this can be a great opportunity to get your work before the public, in a supportive and highly visible setting that offers honors in each category.

Our guest juror this year will be Amy Faris, a graduate of Moore College of Art and Design and the New York Academy of Art whose paintings and drawings have been exhibited at gallery shows in Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Maryland.  A member of Winsor Newton’s technical team, Amy is also an adjunct instructor at the main campus of Brookdale Community College.

We’d like to emphasize once again that this is not an “art sale” of commercially produced items, but an art and fine crafts event in which the participants display — and sell — work which they have created themselves, with no commission taken by the event organizers. It’s sponsored by the LBAC, in partnership with the Historical Association, with support from the City of Long Branch.

Interested artists will be asked to send photos or JPEGS of their work for consideration (those who participated in the 2011 show need not submit material for review).

Deadline to enter the 2012 Art in the Park event is Saturday, May 19. There is a non-refundable entry fee of $40 due at time of registration, and locations of tents or stalls within the park will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

Interested in entering electronically? Have any questions about load-in time, parking, or anything having to do with this year’s event? Call event coordinator Mare Akana at (732)542-1307 with your contact info, and we’ll send you all the details.