"My main purpose for ArtsEcho, the galleria, is to give a place for the arts to echo through the community," said Executive Director Sandra Bendor, "and to give a place for musicians and artists to be able to do what they want and to have wonderful people performing and exhibiting."
ArtsEcho will hold monthly concerts featuring a variety of musical styles, including classical, cabaret, jazz, folk, and Latin. Regularly changing art exhibits will display photography, paintings, sculptures, fine crafts, and fiber arts.
Sandra Bendor and her husband, Ben Bendor, created ArtsEcho to provide a location for local artists and musicians to exhibit and perform with little or no cost.
"I think they deserve a very prominent place in the community," she said. "We have an extraordinary community here. You literally can not walk down the street without bumping into an artist or musician."
Sandra Bendor said that proceeds from the exhibits and concerts will go directly to the artists and musicians.
She also said that ArtsEcho is meant to be a place for people to spend time together and enjoy the arts.
"I think people need a good place to go where it feels like it is warm and homey and there are extremely talented people around you who are not looking just to make the dollar or meet the bottom line of a corporation," she said. "Making arts and communicating with other people is one of things that makes us human."
Supporting local arts Local residents and patrons from all over New Jersey attended the event.
"I think it is very important, in this particular economic climate, that the arts continue to be supported," said Lynda Kraar from Teaneck.
"I am thrilled because you get to do the kind of things you used to have to go to Hoboken or Jersey City to do," said Dr. Marjorie Woodruff from Weehawken. "It adds class to Park Avenue, and you can go to a local arts event, where you know people because they are your neighbors."
The ArtsEcho boutique, carrying clothing from vintage to designer, accessories, fashion jewelry, and even home furnishings, opened in July.
Sandra Bendor said she is happily responsible for keeping the shelves stocked with unique and reusable items.
"I have a real passion for treasures," she said. "I love to go into an antique auction or an estate sale, and sometimes something just catches your eye that you think is fabulous."
She also said that the boutique displays yet another form of art.
"I also see it as a way of recycling," she said. "I see it as a way of showing people, especially the young people, that art is far more important than money and that you can find art in so many different things."
Proceeds from boutique sales will support other ArtsEcho programs, including the kids' show Arithmetickles, which combines interactive theater with math.
Recently, ArtsEcho members have turned their attention to bringing the show to underprivileged, inner city schools.
"I want to be able to present it to students who need it a lot, and I don't want a lack of money to stop us from doing it," said Sandra Bendor.
Upcoming events ArtsEcho will also host poetry readings in both English and Spanish and cultural evenings that not only feature the music and art of a particular country but also ethnic food and wine.
"I think that the cultures are much more than the music and art," she said.
She added, "I just want to contribute to wherever I live in ways that are important to me."