Anyone who has spent a lazy day wandering the halls of Mana Contemporary, the multi-faceted art space on Newark Avenue in the Journal Square area of Jersey City, knows that a big part of its appeal is the fact that one can see artists actually working. In fact, the Mana team puts as much emphasis on allowing the public to visit artists’ studios as it does on formal art shows. This emphasis on the process, however, can leave art lovers wondering sometimes: Whatever happened to that painting? How did it finally turn out?
A new Mana exhibit opening Sunday, July 15 in the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation gallery space attempts to answer the questions of the curious. The exhibit, titled “The Originals: Mana Contemporary Resident Artists,” will feature the work of 28 visual artists who make their creative home in Jersey City. In addition to the curated group show in the Kaminsky gallery, the artists will have open studios and works-in-progress on display, further illustrating our facility's integrated philosophy of art at work.
‘This center is all about process.’ – Eileen S. Kaminsky
“This center is all about process,” said Kaminsky, who curated the gallery show. “Where else in the world can you visit artists in their studios and also see their works displayed within a museum-quality exhibition space?”
Because Kaminsky’s gallery space is housed inside of Mana Contemporary and she sees the work of Mana’s resident artists frequently, she said the biggest challenge to curating “The Originals” was “seeing the work with a fresh eye, seeing it the way members of the community will see it. I’m close to several of the resident artists here. When it came to curating this show, that both helped me, but was also something of a barrier… I had to really try to get out of my own head, my way of seeing this work, so that the most interesting pieces were being shown.”
Kaminsky’s gallery, which has been described as a museum without walls, normally showcases the artwork of private collections from the United States and abroad. The gallery typically pays tribute to the fact that many art collections are currently unseen by the public.
Kamisnsky often travels the world in search of the pieces that she displays, a reflection of her love for art. She acquires pieces by interacting and conversing with the artists at studio visits and art fairs.
“So, you can see, ‘The Originals’ is a bit of a departure for me as a curator and for this gallery,” Kaminsky said. “But I wanted the public to have an opportunity to see completed works they may have seen in earlier incarnations. I also felt it was important to display some of these works in a gallery setting, rather than the artist studio, which is probably how most people have experienced these works thus far.”
Art, for art’s sake
With a total of 1 million square feet, Mana Contemporary is a multi-dimensional art center that will ultimately serve several functions for artists, art patrons, collectors, and the community at large. Already Mana has leased out several custom-designed art studios to a number of visual artists and Shen Wei. The center includes a vast climate controlled warehouse in which art collectors are already storing valuable paintings that are not currently on display in museums or galleries. And private viewing rooms are available in which art collectors can meet privately to negotiate sales.
Mana’s staff includes art professionals skilled in the areas of repair, restoration, and appraisal. Mana co-founders Yigal Ozeri and Eugene Lemay, painters both, also lease out space to gallery owners, like the Eileen S. Kaminski Family Foundation, who wish to exhibit the collections of art investors/collectors.
“The Originals” exhibit in the Kaminski space will open to the public on Sunday, July 15. The Kaminski gallery will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. on July 15. After that date the public is welcome to see the exhibit weekdays from noon until 5 p.m. Access to the exhibition spaces is free. Mana Contemporary is located at 888 Newark Ave. “The Originals” runs through Sept. 15.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.