Hudson County residents were certainly well-entertained in 2011, as almost every community hosted presentations of art, music, film, and theatre – and it wasn’t just in Hoboken and Jersey City. Towns including Union City, Secaucus, and North Bergen saw a burgeoning scene as well.
Communities hosted art, music, film, and theatre.
Golden Door International Film Festival debuts
The inaugural four-day Golden Door International Film Festival, founded and organized by actor Bill Sorvino, came to Jersey City in mid-October. The event, co-sponsored by The Hudson Reporter, Provident Bank, and Panepinto Properties, was such a success that Sorvino promised to bring it back to Jersey City in fall, 2012.
Both veteran and new filmmakers premiered 40 independent films, both feature-length and shorts, at venues across the city such as the Bar Majestic, LITM, the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre, and Art House Productions. The festival also hosted several filmmaking seminars at the rotunda in City Hall.
Between 1,200 and 1,500 people attended the event that concluded with a gala at the Landmark Loew’s, where the festival board presented awards in 18 categories.
New galleries open in Hoboken, Jersey City
Mana Contemporary, Jersey City’s newest art complex and brainchild of modern artists Eugene Lemay and Yigal Ozeri, opened its doors at 888 Newark Ave. in May and kicked off the Artist Studio Tour in October. The space allows the public to view painters, sculptors, photographers, and performance artists in action during the process of creation as well as the presentation of their final product.
Things looked grim for Hoboken’s Monroe Center – which houses artists’ studios and small businesses – for a while, but this past July, Hershy Weiss of North Bergen’s Basad Realty purchased the facility and plans to include rotating art exhibits.
Further extending Hoboken’s artistic community, the Lana Santorelli Gallery at 628 Washington St. opened in June, and Gallery 1200 – sponsored by the Mason Family Civic League – opened on Washington Street in October.
North Hudson has burgeoning arts and theater scene as well
It’s not just Hoboken and Jersey City that hold art exhibits, put on shows and concerts, and host an arts community. It was an exciting year for artists in North Hudson’s towns including Union City, North Bergen, Guttenberg, Weehawken, Secaucus, and West New York.
In Union City, Park Performing Arts Center’s Frank Licato, Karen Brady, and Gregory Erbach launched Hudson Theatre Works, the county’s newest Equity, professional, non-profit theatre company. Exempt from the pressure to succeed often encountered in Manhattan, writers and performers are able to take artistic “risks.”
In June, the William V. Musto Cultural Center opened in Union City. The center houses the Union City Museum of Art, the Union City Police Museum, the Union City Art Gallery and Concert Hall, the Union City Museum of History, and a senior citizen center.
North Bergen was also home to theatrical productions. This year marked a successful 27th year for their theater group, the North Bergen Players, lead by long time playwright, actor, and singer Maurena Luzzi. They produce two plays per year.
In Secaucus, resident artist and teacher Melissa Dargan launched the town’s first rotating, curated art show. She collaborated with officials and renovated parts of Secaucus Town Hall to prepare for the inaugural community-wide exhibition held in March.
Secaucus also witnessed the revival of their community theater group CAST (Community Arts Scholarship Theater) in October after a decade-long hiatus. Executive producers Pat DeFerrari and Joan Kashuba brought it back at the request of Mayor Michael Gonnelli with a performance of “The Show Must Go On,” which included a humorous show tune about the town itself.
Secaucus, Weehawken, and Guttenberg have also hosted free outdoor concert series for area residents, just as Hoboken and Jersey City do.
Other notable art/entertainment stories
● Local artists continue the Studio Tour tradition. Jersey City and Hoboken continued their Artists Studio Tours, with Jersey City celebrating its 21st in October and Hoboken celebrating its 31st year in November. Residents are able to take two-day walking tours of local artists’ studios, group exhibitions, and public spaces. The events attracted thousands of spectators and featured hundreds of artists. Both events are sponsored in part by the Hudson Reporter.
● North Bergen artist Robert Loughlin passes away. Renowned fine artist Robert Loughlin – whom Andy Warhol dubbed “the Chairman” – was killed by a car while crossing Tonnelle Avenue in September after feeding stray kittens across the street from the trailer park where he lived. He is best known for his portrait of an iconic, square-jawed, smoking man called “The Brute.”
● High Tech High is first to put on ‘Xanadu’ musical. The county’s award-winning High Tech High School, based in North Bergen, was the first school in New Jersey to perform the Broadway hit musical “Xanadu – the ’80s Roller Boogie Musical” in November. Theatre Director Alex Perez was inspired to produce the show when he took his students to see the play in New York three years ago.
● What’s to become of the Jersey City Museum? Closed in December, 2010, the Jersey City Museum’s extensive (and expensive) art collection remains in the building as officials try to determine whom the artworks belong to – the museum board or the town. Jersey City Cultural Affairs Director Maryann Kelleher has been pushing to take inventory of the 10,000-piece collection. Earlier this year, Hudson County’s United Way expressed interest in purchasing the building and loaning back a portion to house the artwork, but they pulled out. Jersey City Medical Center also has expressed interest in the building, and would rent part of the space back to the museum.
● Art House Productions and JC Fridays. Christine Goodman’s Jersey City-based Art House Productions celebrated its 10th year in September by once more organizing JC Fridays, a quarterly showcase of art-related events throughout the community. The event, which is sponsored in part by The Hudson Reporter, was initially created as a means to help locals grieve after Sept. 11, 2011. Since then, Art House has produced local theatrical performances, dance shows, visual art exhibits, and a weekly show on Comcast known as Art House TV.
Gennarose Pope may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more of the 2011 Year in review click HERE.