For the first time in over a year, the Jersey City Art Studio Tour returns on Thursday. The pandemic is not quite over, but between the hope that vaccinations and compliance with safety measures are sufficient, dozens of doors of artistic offerings around the city are opening to visitors. If you look at the JCAST map, however, there are significantly fewer offers south of McGinley Square towards Bayonne.
Galleries at New Jersey City University, 2039 Kennedy Blvd., and Bethune Center, 140 Martin Luther King Dr., will feature works by great artists in their venues that can easily be overlooked – much like the Jackson Hill Pop-Up. , which has the only JCAST offer in Bergen-Lafayette.
There, at the Small Business Incubator across from the City Hall Annex, Angela Huggins’ artwork will be on display from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Jackson-Hill Pop-Up in 351 Martin Luther King Dr., featuring Huggins’ assorted house dolls. Huggins dolls are distinctly multicultural, designed by someone who teaches doll making as a healing approach and as a way for collectors to add to their own. In the African American community, doll making has a deep history – with the need to literally train and make positive representations in a society that offered very little. (Read more about Huggins’ work at www.angelhugs4all.com)
One of the unique elements of a studio art tour is that people make their homes and non-traditional places available to the public, and just south of Bergen Lafayette there are three such offerings.
Nonprofit NJ Arya Samaj Temple will showcase artist Alpana Mittal’s unique perler bead work featured under her artist name Tejaswini, at 191 Woodlawn Ave., Friday and Saturday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., not far from Bethune Center .
This temple is in the mold of a reformist branch of Hinduism which values merit rather than value according to the caste in which one is born. Every Sunday they hold a prayer session called havan.
Tejaswini, who is the co-chair of the Pro Arts Jersey City membership committee, said the temple, where her husband also volunteers as a priest, has been a big supporter of her work – which is elsewhere on display at 150 Bay Street (suite 265, with other Pro Arts artists) and in international venues.
The kind of beadwork on canvas that Tejaswini will show is reminiscent of pixel art. It’s a style that uses the simplicity of scaled-down graphics for very evocative image renderings, in part because of the sheer amount of work that goes into it. Tejaswini’s work like this was partially inspired by a bead kit she gave her daughter on Christmas, but she is also familiar with pixel art.
“I actually got to know my kids’ games and realized that my job is to put each pixel individually in your hands and create an image or art,” Tejaswini said earlier this week. “I believe that this art gives us a very large area to think and create. It’s a slow process, we see the images growing slowly but in the process there is a lot of fun watching the image take shape. Another fun process is creating geometric designs. There are geometric shapes everywhere, or it’s my mind that sees them everywhere.
Tejaswini is no longer a Jersey City resident, but she still feels a good part of her art scene.
Her time with Pro Arts Jersey City has helped her grow as an artist due to the closeness to the city’s wonderful artists who surround her.
“It actually contributes to my growth as an artist and my creative process,” Tejaswini said. “It’s an incentive to give the best of yourself and to do your best by rubbing shoulders with this community of artists. Learn more about his work at tejaswiniart.com.
For several years now, Project Greenville coordinator Elizabeth Deegan has ensured that the group has a constant presence in the JCAST and JC Fridays entrances. She continues to do so with “It’s a Family Affair” at 128 Winfield Ave. The show features thoughts on the subject from artists such as Donchellee Fulwood and Jim Legge; and the works of “family artists”, such as Aaron and Raylie Dunkel, the Sienkiewicz family, and Christine Dzierzynski (with Jason Dzierzynski),
This year, just blocks from Project Greenville, Danielle and Moises Haskins will return for their second studio art tour to their home on Pearsall Avenue (206 Pearsall Ave., to be exact) with “Lights and Pedals. II @ Moisessions “, from 12pm to 6pm on Saturday.
Their entry, curated by Danielle, is unique – an experimental music jam session, with a similar approach to lighting design.
“This show is a product of Moisessions Studios, which is my project studio and production company,” Moises said earlier this week. “The nature of the show will be a five to six hour exploration of unpredictability through generative music (and) through self-oscillating guitar pedals, with a few of my musician friends – Tara Stafford Ocansey on vocals, on sax and synthesizer; and Wyl White on vocals, guitar and violin.
Among the many influences that Moises and his friends have for this Moissessions Studios session (@moisessions) are the works of ambient music pioneer Brian Eno. Amon Tobin’s work also led Moises to engage in projection mapping during his many years of working as a lighting designer for a dance company.
“It’s very important for us to represent a part of the city that hasn’t had a lot of representation in the past,” Danielle said. “Our last JCAST show in 2019 was at our McGinley Square apartment (near the West Side Avenue section), but we bought a house during the pandemic. We love the West Side Avenue neighborhood and always see ourselves as part of the vibrant and creative community that is there. But while we were looking for a place to call our forever home, the perfect home for us, within our price range, was on Pearsall Avenue in South Greenville. So here we are. In many ways, this neighborhood is the underdog of the city. But we are proud and want others to see the beauty and the community that we have experienced. “
Danielle Haskins said she contacted Project Greenville after her family moved to the area.
“We love the Greenville project! ” she said. “They allowed my husband and other musicians he frequently collaborates with to perform in their gallery at one of their JC Fridays events. The crowd had such a warm and welcoming atmosphere. We hope this will help make this region a viable arts destination, due to the proximity of several destinations. We also hope this will inspire other artists in the neighborhood to consider showing their work locally, rather than feeling pressured to go elsewhere. It is close to the Danforth Avenue tram station, several bus routes, and has a much better parking location than most of the city. So it is not really the no man’s land that it is often considered to be.
Deegan initially started Project Greenville as a meeting place for citizens of the area.
Otherwise, she said, these people end up hiding in their homes when what has prevailed for too long does not abate.
Deegan, preparing for this weekend, noted that she wished there were more participating sites in the Greenville / Bergen-Lafayette areas. She thinks it would happen more if people realized, or were informed, that whatever business they got into, they would get free promotion. While Deegan thinks it’s an arduous effort to get people to appreciate the art in her area when, other than what she sees as patchy transportation options on weekends, it’s so much easier and more careless to do it elsewhere. At least on its side of town, the more points there are on the map, the more places there are for civic spirits to gather.