Masters of Their Craft: Three women, three art forms, all at the top of their trades

February 21, 2012
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By Lisa Girard

Monmouth County, known for its miles of sandy beaches and cozy communities, is also mecca for the arts.

Three local women have been recognized for artistic excellence in their fields – painting, sculpture, and jewelry. Each has different means of expressing her creativity, but they share an enthusiasm for their work and a unique artistic sensibility that has brought them recognition locally and beyond.

Penelope Deyhle

Penelope Deyhle, 32, is making a name for herself as a painter who specializes in goldfish, landscape art, abstracts and more. Her work is currently being shown at Eisenhauer Gallery in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard and a small gallery in Sag Harbor, Long Island. This past December, she held a sold-out solo show at Beauregard Fine Art in Rumson.

Deyhle was born in London and spent her childhood splitting time between the United States and the United Kingdom. She discovered her passion for the arts as a young girl living in Rumson, and went on to study art at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London and the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. During these years, Deyhle worked with artists from the Cedros Design District in Solona Beach, Calif., and the Bush-Holley House in Greenwich, Conn., and began showing her own work in galleries in New York, New Jersey, Arizona and California.

“I loved working with those artists, who opened doors for me and taught me a lot of basic skills, as well as what it meant to be a successful painter,” says Deyhle.

She works in an impressive range of styles, from black and white collaged images to refined oil landscapes, and has been recognized by the New York Times for her “delectable use of color and impeccable saturation of pigments” that bring her paintings to a “tantalizing level.”

After commuting from Sea Bright to her Manhattan studio for some years, she recently moved back to the Navesink area, where she is embarking on a new body of work, including her first commercial venture—a dinnerware collection inspired by her famous goldfish paintings.

Deyhle continues to be inspired by the local scene, from the fishermen at the docks in Belford to the multi-hued Sandy Hook sunsets. She also believes in giving back to the community and has contributed to several charitable causes, including a fundraiser to benefit the Rumson public school district and another to raise money for the Cancer Support Community in Eatontown.

Get Planting: Spring Has Sprung

Judi Tavill

Judi Tavill, a Rumson resident who has become highly regarded for her work in pottery, first learned her craft on a whim, when she took a class at the Monmouth County Park System Craft Center in 2002. “The park system has a wonderful studio, and my teachers were very helpful as I approached this form of art with literally no background,” says Tavill. “When I first started taking classes I was very challenged, particularly by throwing on the potter’s wheel. It did not come easily to me, so it was like making art and playing Nintendo at the same time.”

Despite the challenges, Tavill—who has a BFA degree from Washington University School of Art and worked as a top fashion and textile print designer—stuck with it, taking several more classes and learning every step of the process, from drying and glazing, to firing and display.

Tavill soon began selling pieces at the Monmouth Festival of the Arts, at vendor shows, the CBA Art Show, in holiday boutiques and from her own home studio, which was built over her two car garage. She says the Internet has also been a great way to market her work, from selling on her own Etsy site ( to creating interest through photos posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Her work, which she describes as “functional with a twist,” is also garnering a national audience as it appears in a series of juried exhibitions. Currently, she is showing at the Cups of Fire-National Cup Exhibition 2012, running through March 3 at Clay Gallery in Ann Arbor, Mich., and at “8 Fluid Ounces,” a national juried/invitational ceramic cup exhibition through Feb. 25 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

A decade after taking her first pottery class, Tavill admits the craft remains a challenge, but a good one at that. “There is a chance for a piece to be destroyed at each step in the process, and after,” she says. “There is something about that fragility that must somehow attract me in a strange way.”

As she continues immerse herself in her work, Tavill says she wants to evolve her pieces and take them to the next level. “I’m interested in marketing toward more of a gallery patron, designer collectors, or to people that truly respect the art of the piece.”

Exhibit Uses History To Fight Against Hate

Maureen Bay

When Maureen Bay was studying art education at Monmouth University in the early 1970s, she would make jewelry for her friends to earn a little extra money. After graduating, and then teaching for a few years, she realized jewelry was her real passion. She went on to get her gemologist degree and has never looked back.

In 1983, Bay, 59, opened Gem of An Idea in Fair Haven. She bought out her partner a few years later and moved to the Fair Haven Commons around 1990, where she has established herself as one of the most creative jewelry designers in the area.

“When I opened the business, there weren’t a lot of women in the jewelry business, so a lot of times my credibility was challenged, and those doors weren’t opened,” says Bay. But she forged ahead, building her reputation with her coveted designs: beautiful beaded necklaces, asymmetrical ring designs and unique stone combinations. Her work has even been on display at group exhibits at Monmouth University, and she has been recognized by New Jersey Jewelers for several of her designs.

Now Bay runs a successful—and well-respected—business, with her jewelry prices ranging from $500 to $800 for signature beaded designs to $40,000 to $50,000 for custom created pieces. She describes Gem of an Idea as “artful, but traditional and very eclectic.” And in addition to her own pieces, she has two other designers on staff and also carries limited edition products from outside designers from time to time.

Bay loves to work in different mediums, creating pieces that are unique in their shape, selection of stones and stone placement. Of late, she has also been working with drusy, tiny gems that can be turned into rings, earrings, pendants and more.

“I love to sit down and design things, but I also have a passion for the people,” Bay says. “I recently worked with someone who was the grandchild of a guy who I sold an engagement ring to when he was 25. That’s pretty special.”

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