Shuttle Buses left Grove Street to the Friday Night kick off party of the Studio Tour weekend. The shuttle buses were painted white old-skool school buses that had to have dated from the Nixon Presidency, if not earlier – in fact I ‘m guessing Ike. The shock absorbers were non-existent. Every pot hole resounded in a loud and sudden rattle that seemed to directly shove your kidneys. There were about a dozen of these body shaking thuds between the Grove Street Station and the Tenmarc Building.
Aside from mildly bruising essential internal organs, the bus ride was scads of fun. The building is an old warehouse located in the darkness on the edge of town. Seemed about the size, at least in length, of an entire city block. The warehouse is not fallow, at least most of it is still in use as storage, apparently for some of film related enterprise, I didn’t get the full story but there were some antique cameras here and there which apparently were examples of the type of objects kept here. I heard all this second hand. Seemed an appropriately Jersey City setting. America’s industrial past – not so many years ago in the scheme of things – but evident and unforgotten even when those industrial vestiges surviving are adapted to and by a new generation of Americans.
The gallery build out – the transformation of the space into a gallery – was designed and constructed by Jersey City Art School. The Tenmarc Building is the quasi nerve center of the weekend, which in addition to the opening reception featured a multi-media showcase of art and art events. The vast space several encompassed side rooms – separate galleries for various art and craft exhibits – as well as a large space where a band, made up of recognizable local musicians but I have no idea if they played under a specific moniker, performed a lively set of danceable jams, followed by remarks from local luminaries. This floor-level stage section flowed into several larger areas, where tables were set up, beverages available in one, food in another and the third featured other, T-shirts and other Studio Tour memorabilia. Art was hung on the walls separating these gathering areas, as creating min-galleries. The walls aligning the back of the space also were populated by different exhibits.
Artist Nest – conceived of, designed and sponsored by JCAS, was a gallery-event within the Tenmarc gallery. The centralized, octagonal-shaped“nest” featured paintings by artists of their personal studios. Participating artists were commissioned to depict their “nest “for this project. The theme –in keeping with the ‘studio’ part of the studio tour – is to make public the artist’s workspaces, i.e., the Artist Nest.
Art was everywhere, in purposeful display. All the usual suspects and many others new that were new to eyes. Seemed a wide representation of the artists and galleries. The Studio Tour is a city-wide celebration of art and artists, the core of which is the studio tour, where artists “open” up their studios, hopefully make some sales but also share and spread the creative spirit, the love of art and all that can entail.
The big question is can Jersey City stay affordable for the artists. Across the river, often the case has been the artists get pushed out neighborhoods and the artists remaining are a trust fund community rarely moving beyond the mediocre. That potential may still exist here but this year at least, the community on the Jersey-side remains vibrant, active and diverse.
The art community here like the city itself can be disparate, distinct planets without even a sun to orbit around. The temporary re-imagining of this warehouse into an art center erased that disparity. The evening was a gathering of the art tribes, a truly rare occurrence. We all live here but rarely are all together in one place at one time and with one purpose. Fitting that community was reaffirmed along with art. Jersey City proved, once again, that Art both elevates and unites.