The BelmarArts is housed in the Boatworks, a vibrant, mural-covered art center created by the members from a derelict boat engine repair shop. Before it became the home of the BelmarArts the building first was the site of Connolly Boatworks. By the 1990s SRS Marine was the resident business. Both businesses sold small boats, motors and supplies.
In a matter of months after the Borough of Belmar invited BelmarArts to use the building, volunteers transformed it, cleaning, putting up sheetrock, and painting walls and floors. Gallery and workshop spaces were created along with an office, a small stage and storage. Grants were written and funds were secured for easels, stools, an LCD projector and screen. Over time, membership dues, donations and additional grants allowed the BelmarArts to hire part time administrative help.
In 2010, the workshop and gallery spaces were in such demand that an expansion to the Boatworks was initiated. Funds were raised and, while modest, the nearly 500 square foot addition was completed in early 2011 and is being used as gallery and storage space. Storage, always a problem with tables, chairs, easels, stools, and other necessities, occupies a third of the new addition.
On October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy hit Belmar and the Jersey Shore. Much of the area was flooded and without electricity for up to 12 days. BelmarArts’ Boatworks was one of the many buildings within the Borough that was breached by flood water, but the damage was not as great as that sustained by other structures in town. The Borough decided to use the building to use it as a temporary center for the distribution of emergency relief supplies, providing residents needed supllies and helping them rebuild their lives.
Two months later the building was returned to the BelmarArts and again the volunteers went to work.
New wall board replaced that damaged by flood waters, floors were scrubbed, walls painted, equipment cleaned or replaced. On January 19, 2013 the Black and White Salon, a members-only art show, opened, the first opening since Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. The BelmarArts was back in business.
You might wonder about the statuary outside The Boatworks, In 2006 Philadelphia sculptor Heather Bryson, BelmarArts Community Artist-in-Residence, designed the creatures. With the help of BelmarArts members and community volunteers, she cast them in concrete. On August 26, 2006 children participated in a one-day workshop, learning sculpture techniques while creating their own FantaSEA creatures. Masonry by Tim Barry has provided concrete and technical expertise, with environmentally friendly concrete dyes donated by Rockwell Pigments.