If Jersey City is ever really going to become the best mid-sized city in America, as the new mayor is oh so fond of saying, it’s going to have to prove, figuratively speaking, that it knows how to put on a tuxedo and heels and sit proper at the opera, just like the big kids. In other words, small and amateur will have to give way to professional and polished.
To that end, Luca Cusolito, who was selected by Pro Arts to coordinate the 2013 Artists’ Studio Tour, said last year was a “turning point” for the tour and she felt there was enough history and momentum to take the event to another level.
“Over the years I’ve been to a lot of group art exhibitions. I like to attend Armory Week (in New York City). I like to attend SCOPE and Art Basil in Miami. I’ve definitely gotten a taste of what other [organizations] are doing to showcase artists in a group exhibition setting. We have so many wonderful opportunities in Jersey City, we really deserve to have something nice and something memorable, and that’s what I hope to achieve.”
‘We have so many wonderful opportunities in Jersey City, we really deserve to have something nice and something memorable, and that’s what I hope to achieve.’ – Luca Cusolito
Each year the tour, which has grown in recent years, showcases the work of professional artists who live and create in Jersey City, but whose art may be unfamiliar to the larger community. While many sites along the tour route are located downtown organizers said there will be several dynamic group shows in the Jersey City Heights, Greenville, and Bergen-Lafayette communities as well.
Lots to see
For the second year the tour will return to the Bergen-Lafayette-based Tenmarc Building, at 430 Communipaw Ave., for its opening night kick-off party and a series of weekend-long group shows. The kick-off opening night party, which is free to the community, will get underway on Friday, Oct. 4 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Last year the cavernous Tenmarc space played host to several group art exhibits that were showcased on opening night. But in a change from 2012, Cusolito and Pro Arts did a public call for curators to curate separate shows in each of the Tenmarc spaces.
For example, Andrea Morin, who has curated several shows for LITM, curated a group show of erotic art titled “Into the Boudoir” for one of the Tenmarc rooms. Nyugen Smith has another space in Tenmarc that will combine visual and performance art. In a similar vein, Art House Productions is also curating a show at Tenmarc that will largely be theatrical in scope, but which will also encompass visual art as well.
Cusolito said special attention was paid this year to how the work there will be presented.
“Last year, there were kind of hodge podge walls,” she recalled. “What we did this year is we took those walls down and we put up nice clean white walls. So, it’s going to have an upscale exhibition-type of feel. There are a lot more things to see this year and a lot more room to walk around.”
Another significant group show will once again take place on Oct. 5 and 6 at 150 Bay St., a space that will be so packed with offerings that Cusolito suggested that attendees set aside “several hours” for that show.
With emphasis going to the big group shows in the last couple of years, it’s easy to forget that Artists’ Studio Tour weekend is, in fact, a tour that encompasses many small individual work studios and stand-alone gallery exhibits that can get lost in the shuffle. This year, the Division of Cultural Affairs said there are about 400 artists showing their work in roughly 75 different venues throughout the city. With so much to see at 150 Bay and the Tenmarc, attendees shouldn’t forget to check out the dozens of other work on display during tour weekend.
The full tour schedule will be published in the Sept. 29 edition of the Jersey City Reporter and will be available throughout the weekend of the tour.
All of the gallery shows included in the Artists’ Studio Tour are free and open to the public.
So long, Fourth Street Art and Music Festival
For the past nine years, Fourth Street Arts has hosted a day-long outdoor live music festival that has always coincided with Studio Tour Saturday. This year the free festival will return for its 10th and final year, according to photographer and festival founder Mike McNamara.
“It’s just time to wrap this…event up, and the tenth is a nice place to do it,” McNamara told the Reporter in August.
In honor of its decade-long contribution to the cultural life of the community, the festival will go from (roughly) 10 a.m. to 10 at night on Saturday, Oct. 5.
The day will start Breakfast with the Beatles at 10:15.
“There’s going to be a live band that’s going to play a one-hour set of Beatles songs and for anybody who comes there’s going to be free coffee, juice, and bagels,” McNamara said.
This will be followed by an interactive performance by Preschool of Rock at 11:30 a.m. and Three Little Birds. Both bands are kid-friendly and should appeal to families.
For those interested in more adult fare, the day will feature 10 additional bands, including Wyld Life, Crazy in the Brain, Born at Sea, the Dove Cats, and Rest Ashore, among others.
Also included in this year’s Art and Music Festival will be the Jersey City Homebrew Competition, from 4 to 8 p.m. at 377 Newark Ave. The Homebrew Competition will feature over 25 homebrews produced by Jersey City brewers and others. Participants will have an opportunity to sample the available beers and vote for their favorites.
Prizes will be given to the top two brews, as decided by a panel of judges, although there will also be a “people’s choice” award given as well.
While the Artists Studio Tour and the Art and Music Festival are free events, there is an admission fee to participate in the Jersey City Homebrew Competition. Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 the day of the event. To purchase tickets in advance, visit jchb.brownpapertickets.com. A service fee will apply. Proceeds from the competition will benefit Fourth Street Arts’ scholarships given to Jersey City high school students with an interest in pursuing an arts degree in college.
“It’s going to be mellow, but music heavy,” McNamara said of this year’s Art and Music Festival. “We have two stages right next to each other. So, it’s going to be music, after, music, after music with no breaks. There will be a big final jam to end it all.”
McNamara and the Fourth Street Arts organization are regrouping, he said, and might return in 2014 with a summer concert event in lieu of the October Art and Music Festival.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.