Cape May Event Calendar

Local nature-themed artists

Local nature-themed artists Debra Suplee Donahue, Tina Giaimo, and Louise Zemaitis featured in the Harbor Gallery at the Nature Center of Cape May for September.

The work of polymer clay artist, Debra Suplee Donahue, photographer Tina Giaimo, and artist/naturalist Louise Zemaitis, will be featured in the Harbor Gallery at the Nature Center of Cape May for the month of September. The public is invited to the ‘Meet the Artists Reception’ on Friday, September 1st from 4-6pm. “With Monarch butterfly season approaching, it’s fun to see how these local artists incorporate butterflies into their work”, explains Gretchen Whitman, Sanctuary Director. Light refreshments will be served. All artwork is for sale, with a portion of sales going to support New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May. The Harbor Gallery is located at Nature Center of Cape May at 1600 Delaware Ave, Cape May.

Debra Suplee Donahue was born and raised in Southern New Jersey and went on to work in several fields including incentive travel, public relations in the arts and hospitality industries, notably at Appel Farm and then The Chalfonte Hotel for 14 years. Later, after nearly 10 years of managing vacation rentals with several local real estate agencies, it was time for a drastic change. She is now happily ensconced as the Administrative Assistant at the Child Development Center at TRACEN, the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May. She has lived for nearly three decades in her beloved hamlet of Cape May and currently lives on a flower farm with her partner of 24 years, JM Kearns, an author, singer-songwriter and Philosophy professor at Rowan University.

Debra credits her love affair with polymer clay to her friend Amy Sutryn, who introduced her to the medium. She soon learned how to create canes (little logs of clay that hold a design pattern and then sliced), how to roll clay into the right thinness (using a pasta roller) how to apply patterns to glass, metal and porcelain surfaces, and what the baking process is all about. She found herself creating unique designs for bowls and jars by wrapping them with multiples of the sliced canes. “I don’t create mathematically- perfect abstract symmetrical patterns (which I admire greatly when others do them): rather, I improvise with patterned shapes to plunge the viewer into a sort of imaginary landscape, with variations on several themes in a given piece. I call my work Polymer Improv.” Explains Debra. No piece is alike, but for the showing at The Nature Center, her pieces will be decidedly butterfly and nature-themed.

“The medium offers endless possibilities,” says Debra. “I would encourage everyone to do a simple Google search using the phase “polymer clay artists” to discover pieces from landscapes to jewelry to whimsical creatures and even “steampunk” inspired work. There is even a cooperative in Nepal, which paved the way for women to raise themselves out of poverty by creating and selling their work.”

Debra Donahue has always had a strong creative side, ranging from designing jewelry, creating works in Iris Paper Folding, to making a private label curry blend, to being the lead singer of the popular Cape May trio, The Squares. Debra has been a contributing writer for Cape May Magazine for 12 years, and someday, she’ll actually write the novel that’s been percolating for decades.

Tina Giaimo has been taking photos since she was a kid, growing up in North Jersey with parents who encourage her chosen art form.  A self-taught photographer, she spent her high school years with her favorite hobby and a borrowed 35 mm camera until she could purchase her own in 1973, an Olympus OM-1, the first of its kind. Tina’s love of the outdoors and nature found her traveling the highways and backroads where she would develop her own style and find everyday things to photograph. She attended workshop and classes in NYC to hone her skills. Public libraries gave her access to her early influences, Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter and then she discovered the nature photography of Art Wolfe,  Jim Brandenburg,  John Shaw and Galen Rowell.

Many of her images are from Cape May and the surrounding areas which continue to provide her with endless possibilities. She believes in the beauty of the world and delights in finding it and then sharing it with others. Her love of nature, the planet and her compassion help her create images which she hopes will bring happiness to others and inspire them. Autumn is a favorite time of the year for her because of the migrating Monarchs and birds that are a joy to witness as they travel to their winter homes.

Tina’s husband Don Merwin shares her passion for nature and taking beautiful images of the town they call home. They have won many awards and their images have been published on the cover and inside Cape May Chamber Annual Guidebook, Cape May Magazine and included in numerous publications about Cape May. Photographs taken by Tina have been published in “Four Seasons at The Shore” and “Visions”, two local tabletop books. Her works are hanging in private collections in the US and abroad and in Hospitals, Corporations and Businesses. Tina is the owner of Spirit Catcher Photography located at 31 Perry Street in the Carpenter’s Square Mall in Cape May.

Traditionally trained fine artist, Louise Zemaitis earned her BFA at Tyler School of Art. Louise specializes in subjects from the natural world. Though she prefers the water-based mediums of pen and ink, watercolor and gouache, Louise is also a master of graphite drawing. Rendering life-like images of birds, butterflies and other wildlife, she has illustrated nature books and magazines. Louise’s artwork can also be found on T-shirts and hats, which will be available for sale. Louise has worked as an Associate Naturalist for NJ Audubon for over 30 years. She leads worldwide natural history tours for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours as well as being the Field Coordinator for the Monarch Monitoring Project.

For more information please contact Nature Center of Cape May 609-427-3045. Art lovers are encouraged to come and meet artists at the Nature Center of Cape May from 4-6pm on the first Friday of the month and then head over to The Gallery at Ferry Park for their artists’ opening reception which runs from 5-7pm on the first Friday of the month as well.