A hot end to May gives way to what is shaping up to be a beautiful, breezy and bustling weekend in our towns. Highlights over the next few days include the 2011 edition of the extremely popular and expansive South Orange and Maplewood Artists Studio Tour, with related multi-artist shows at various galleries in the area, including 1978, The Pierro Gallery, and Gas Gallery and Studio.
In South Orange, SOPAC holds its annual gala benefit, celebrating the culmination of its fifth season this year, with headliners The Midtown Men, original cast stars of Broadway's musical hit Jersey Boys, this Saturday night. The Berenstain Bears take the stage at the Paper Mill Playhouse for a Saturday morning presentation of three of the Bears' most popular children's books, combined into one happy and fun live musical for all the kids.
Former New Jersey governor, Richard Codey, visits Maplewood's Words Bookstore for a reading and signing session of his new memoir Saturday afternoon. And, finally, taking advantage of the likely lovely weather to come, a number of neighborhood and spiritual organizations in our area will be holding garage and yard sales throughout the weekend.
Here's our full rundown of what's happening this Friday through Sunday:
Buzz with Author Katherine Ellison: Katherine Ellison discusses and sings her book about one mother's journey to understand and connect with her preteen son, at Words Bookstore. Free, Friday, 7:30pm, Maplewood
Mixed Media Trio Show at GAS Gallery: Featuring the work of artists Luis Alves, Russell Christian and Elizabeth Carol Winchester, GAS Gallery and Studio is excited to presents the Mixed Media Trio Show, (also a part of Sunday's SOMA Artists Studio Tour). Free, June 1 to July 5, Maplewood
: Housewares, furniture, collectibles, books, electronics, tools, novelties, and much, much more, priced to sell. Free, Saturday and Sunday, 9:00am, Maplewood
Preview/Post View at the Pierro Gallery: As part of the SOMA Artists Studio Tour, the Pierro Gallery will present Preview/Post View, an exhibition celebrating the local artists who annually open their homes and studios to the public each June. Over 30 artists are participating in the exhibition. Free, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00pm to 4:00pm, South Orange
: Happening at various houses around Maplecrest Park this multi-family yard sale will have 15 houses participating. For more information and a map, click here. Free, Saturday, 9:00am, Maplewood
South Mountain Conservancy Hike: Nature Walk: A walk for about 2-3 miles, with a focus on the trees and flowers of Dogwood Hill. Taken at an easy pace with a fair number of stops to look at the surroundings. Meet at the Dogwood Hill parking area on Brookside Drive. Free, Saturday, 9:30am to 11:30am, South Mountain
: The Berenstain Bears have enchanted young readers for generations. Now, this fun-filled new musical weaves together three of Stan and Jan Berenstain's most popular books at The Paper Mill Playhouse. Recommended for ages 4 and up. $12-$15, Saturday, 10:00am, Millburn
: Games and family-friendly activities are planned for this annual open house event, where you can visit the natural habitat exhibits or take a pony ride. Admission is free, though some activities may have a fee. Free, Saturday, 10:00am to 2:00pm, West Orange
: The Millburn Free Public Library will host a Red Cross Blood Drive in Meeting Room A auditorium) this weekend. Free, Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm, Millburn
: The Friends of Eagle Island, Inc. (FEI) invites the public to participate in their first major fundraiser this Saturday at South Mountain Reservation. With the Girl Scouts poised to sell the historic property in the Adirondacks, former campers have banded together as the Friends of Eagle Island, Inc., to acquire the historic property, designated a National Historic Landmark in 2004, and perpetuate the Graves family mandate that it always be a place for children to enjoy the outdoors, make friendships and learn leadership skills. Donation, Saturday, 10:30am, Millburn
Discussion on Through the Lens of Integration: Join photography workshop participants and instructors from the Through the Lens of Integration Project in a viewing of the photos that they took reflecting integration in South Orange and Maplewood. They will also dialogue informally with attendees about the inspiration and experiences behind their photos. Light refreshments will be served.At the Pierro Gallery. Free, Saturday, 1:00pm, South Orange
College Life Uncensored 2 at Words Bookstore: Want the real deal on college life? Attend the second annual College Life Uncensored panel at Words Bookstore, featuring college students sharing their take on a variety of different campuses, majors, and experiences. Free, Saturday, 2:00pm, Maplewood
Me, Governor? with Author Richard Codey: Former governor Richard Codey reads and signs copies of his new book, a breezy, humorous and candid chronicle of local and state government, at Words Bookstore. Free, Saturday, 4:00pm, Maplewood
: Spend a summer evening listening to live music, featuring Eli Yamin, and enjoying the company of your friends and family on Greenwood Garden's teahouse lawn. Bring your own picnic and Greenwood will provide soft drinks and cupcakes. Reservations required. Free for Members or Join, Saturday, 5:00pm to 7:30pm, Short Hills
: Celebrating the culmination of its fifth season, SOPAC toasts special honorees, supporters, and community leaders as part of its annual Spring Gala. Bookended by pre- and post- receptions, this one-night only bash features performances by the Midtown Men – four stars from the original cast of Broadway’s mega-hit musical Jersey Boys. $75 to $150, Saturday, 8:00pm, South Orange
: Household items, children's toys, baby gear and more are all on sale at the Center, located at 520 Prospect. Free, Sunday, 10:00am to 4:00pm, Maplewood
: Artists will be opening their studios to visitors and exhibiting at the many art venues throughout the two towns, in a community-wide, day-long celebration of SOMA’s vibrant art scene. Presented by 1978 Maplewood Arts Center and the Pierro Gallery of South Orange, this self-guided tour allows viewers to meet local artists in their workspaces, explore the many galleries around town, and have the opportunity to purchase art from more than 60 participating painters, sculptors, photographers, printmakers, jewelers and craftspeople, many of them new to the tour this year. Art will also be on view at many local businesses, at 1978, the Baird Center and Pierro Gallery, and at the Maplewood Municipal Building and Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University. $5 in advance or $7 day of, Sunday, 11:00am to 5:00pm, South Orange and Maplewood
: The "community's first student-run art festival, Students for the Arts, will be held on the grounds of Millburn High School. Entrance is free, and the festival will feature over 200 pieces of artwork created by high school students. Visitors can view and purchase prints or originals of the works, and also partake in a variety of activities geared towards children and families. There will be fun opportunities such as face-painting, as well as hands-on activities such as quilt-making and bracelet-making." Free Entrance, Sunday, 11:00am to 3:00pm, Millburn
: Join in for a fun and informative educational lecture presented by Geri Miller, Master Gardener and owner of Home Grown Edible Landscapes, with special guest Dan Richer, James Beard Foundation nominated Chef and owner of Arturo's Osteria and Pizzeria. This event will be held at a historic Montrose Park residence (address given at registration confirmation). Space is limited, so don't delay. Members Free / Non-Members $10, Sunday, 12:00pm to 2:00pm, South Orange
: On Sunday afternoon, experienced musician, educator and instrument maker Cheryl Thomas will demonstrate how the common gourd, a vessel used by many world cultures, can be transformed into a rattle through beading to make hauntingly beautiful music. Learn about the bottle gourd vines growing in the Durand-Hedden Herb Garden and pick up a gourd seedling to plant in your own garden. By fall you should be able to harvest gourds of your own. Donation appreciated, Sunday, 1:00pm to 4:00pm, Maplewood
: This Sunday at Words Bookstore, Strauss signs and reads from his new book, a funny, sentimental memoir about being the dad of girl jocks – not Venus and Serena Williams, but Every Dad and Every Girl. Free, Sunday, 2:00pm, Maplewood
: This concert, "a wonderful evening of songs with friends old and new", will be held on Sunday to raise funds for the PTW Scholarship Fund. The evening will conclude with a post-performance reception and include a delightful assortment of savories, sweets, and libation. PTW families and friends will have a rare opportunity to experience the wonderful talents of the faculty and student alumni. $50 adults / $20 students, Sunday, 6:30pm, Maplewood
Donald Pun lives in Maplewood and posts the event round-up column here each weekend. Previously, he was a regular contributor for the NY Times' Maplewood, South Orange, and Millburn Local blog section.