They’re naming their gallery after the Bayonne Bridge, both for the neighborhood’s proximity to the bridge, but also because of the symbolism of the bridge. “Art can be a bridge in a community,” said Cheryl. “We want to be that bridge for people who live outside of Bayonne who have never been here, to bring them in and show them how wonderful Bayonne is.”
Their vision for the gallery evolved after organizing the successful Expressive Creative Soul art exhibit at Bee’s Art Studio in celebration of Black History Month in February. Cheryl and Christopher seek to continue that momentum. “What we want to do with this space on a permanent basis,” Cheryl said, “is not only provide an outlet to showcase artists inside and outside of Bayonne, but also to bring people into Bayonne that may have not typically come to Bayonne so they can experience how wonderful it is here, too.”
Growing with a community
Cheryl said that Bayonne artists, and all artists, cannot excel in isolation, and the gallery is intended to facilitate the collaborative spirit. “Here in Bayonne, artists find each other,” she said.“We believe in that cooperation.” Art, she says, is “one of the key pillars of a community. It can brighten your spirits, and it can be a cultural education tool and a great form of expression.”
The couple said they feel like they’ve grown into the Bayonne community since moving to the city in 2010 from Brooklyn. They came for the city’s proximity to Manhattan, but stayed for the vibrant community, green spaces, and places to go out. “We practically live at Little Food on the weekends,” said Cheryl.
She and Christopher are elated that the gallery is in the “right neighborhood.” She said, “The stars aligned” at the right place and time, with the gallery right across the street from friends at Boho Yoga and the Crafty Fox. “The aesthetics of the space is mixing the old with the new.” It’s just the right size for a gallery, and looks the part, too. But first they had to bag the cinderblocks. “We didn’t like [the cinderblocks] at all,” Christopher said.“So then we pondered and thought about it for a few weeks. Then I saw a European take of plaster over brick. I wanted it to be artistic.”
Flexing creative muscle
Cheryl said an artist’s creativity is like a muscle “that needs to be used to get that expression out.” Christopher, who is a graphic designer, said, “I’ve always been an artist, and Cheryl has always been pushing me to do my artwork.” He will be one of the featured artists at the opening.
The gallery still needs some new lighting and bathroom upgrades, but the Macks are excited to showcase all the work they put into both their art and the space. “I mean, look at the aesthetics of this space,” said Cheryl, who’s an event coordinator.“I love the exposed brick…and then there’s still kind of that rustic, industrial look to it.”
On Friday, September 23, Cheryl and Christopher are partnering with Music in Motion to play live music at the Eighth Street Light Rail station. In the evening after the Saturday opening, Boho Yoga will also be hosting an art show, while Mona Lisa Pizzeria across the street will have face painting for kids.
Artists participating in the Bridge opening include Tiffany Patrice (tpatrice.com), Tejaswini (artisticpossibilities.com), Nupur Nishith (creativemithila.com), Atlanta-based Maurice Evans (mauriceevans.com), and Montclair-based Ted Papoulas (tedpapoulas.com).For more information on the gallery and to see Christopher Mack’s art, visit bridgeartgallery.net.
Rory Pasquariello may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.