View of the art and the reception crowd, looking west in IAC.Last Friday I attended the opening reception for the "DTJC" (Downtown Jersey City) show at Index Art Center and Charles Steiner fotos at Kedar Studio of Art (both on the second floor of 585 Broad Street, opposite Doane Park just north of Trinity & St. Philip's Episcopal Cathedral.)
View looking east.It should hardly astonish that there seemed to me no significant difference in quality, subject matter, or even media between Newark artists and J.C. artists, tho Index's earlier shows of Newark (and NYC?) artists have included sculpture and more unusual media, such as neon. In the DTJC show, however, appeared this stained-glass work that had a neon-like glow to it.
Still, the rest is there, political, environmental, personal art of high quality. NJ is a pretty sophisticated place, and we get a lot of people from a lot of different places, directly and second-hand, from NYC, as people seek respite from the crush of crowds, traffic, and crime that attends living in NYC.
I liked this treeway.This next work looks very much like what Kevin Darmanie, principal of Kedar, does, esp. the yellow caption box, but Kevin was not listed among the artists in the Index show.
I'm afraid I don't have ID's for the artist of any of these pieces. I didn't see labels, even numbers, and certainly didn't capture them in my fotos. If Lowell would like to provide that info (by the foto's sequence in this blogpost), I'll be glad to add that info.
This next work reminds me of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines, in which Filipinos gave flowers to soldiers sent to put down demonstrations against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. I have two Filipina former sisters-in-law whom I adore, Connie and Rosan (by two different brothers), and have long favored bringing the Philippines into the Union as three states (Luzon, Mindanao, and the Visayas, for those of you who know Philippine geography). Filipinos' dedication to American-style democracy might revivify our current, intolerantly tendentious, politics.
These precious little birdies look like sparrows to me, and remind me that some sparrows and larger birds have reappeared in my neighborhood to eat birdseed from my birdfeeder. It's costing me more than would a sterile winter environment, but I'm glad of it.
I don't know what the headless man (?) in this painting is supposed to represent, but it may not be as abstract as you think.
Bill in Thailand (formerly of Irvington) pointed out that there is a headless man in the first foto of my blogpost announcing the opening of this show, because someone (in a horizonally striped shirt) moved in low lite and his head was blurred completely out of the picture. Here's that foto again.
I pointed out to Bill, however, that there is in fact a head above those shoulders, albeit in the distance — unless the man in question had a tiny, tiny head. A similar headless man (for leaning forward out of frame) appears in one of the fotos I took last Friday.
In this case too, there is a head beyond. It's facing the wrong way, and is of Joya ("Angola") Thompson of the Newark (mainly women's) art collective Catfish Friday. But perhaps an artist's head facing the wrong way is better than no head at all. I am appalled to have to admit that the Catfish Friday show during Open Doors 2010 is one of the events I have not yet gotten around to, four months later. I'll get to it, if only in a slideshow to accompany a topic for which I have no fotos. I mentioned that a friend of Rupert Ravens asked me during Open Doors if there was really enuf to talk about with Newark to keep a blog going. I told him then, and you now, that there is much more happening in Newark than I alone can cover. I have many hundreds of fotos, already taken, of wonderful things that I have not yet been able to show. I am presently working on a presentation of the wonderful show — of course — at Rupert Ravens Contemporary that opened in October and is scheduled to close February 12th, one day after the shows I speak to today. I may have to put most of my many fotos of that show into a slideshow if I don't have enuf to say about individual fotos (aside from several fotos destined for my Portraits album of artists from, or working in, Newark in this lucky time. Index, Kedar, Solos, Aljira, Robeson, the Newark Public Library, NJIT, and other Newark art venues do very good work, but Rupert is the big kahuna of Newark arts, and he has the space to give artists their due.
This artwork, unlike the rifle and birdies, is wholly black-and-white. I like it but do not pretend to understand it. Is that large mass on the man's head a turban, or hat? Maybe one of those knit caps that Rastafarians conceal very long dreadlocks in? And there's a kitty! I love kitties, tho that one looks to be one of the big cats that aren't always nice. David Letterman held a baby cheetah Tuesday nite, and the microfone picked up purring. Sweet kitty.
This next, britely-colored but tombstone-shaped artwork conveys a mixed message. Instead of "I love [or "heart", as I prefer] Jersey City", the message is confused, in that the heart icon is broken (in a way that would not unite) and there's a chain thru a hole atop. All this means what?
Were I an artist doing a piece like that about Newark, the heart would be whole. There's something about Newark that inspires almost fanatical love — or hate. I have not yet figured out what it is, but I know that I personally love Newark, with a passion. And what's with the chain? I admit that I've had things stolen from me in Newark. Not as many as I had stolen from me when I lived in NYC. But I have done silly things in Newark that I would never have even thought to do when I lived in Manhattan (then affordable for ordinary people), like leave car windows rolled down when I walked away from my parked car in Downtown Newark, or left the keys in my car's trunk for a couple of hours on the street outside my house, or even left the keys in my front-door lock overnite. Those are never good things to do, in a city, in the United States, in the 21st Century. But Newark is a lot safer than people outside Newark might think. Is the Jersey City artist suggesting by his (her?) chain that Jersey City isn't as safe as it should be? I don't know.
At one point, a group of bizarre young people with ghoulish (Gothic?) eye makeup, and one woman with green hair, came in as a group, walked over to a big foto of two toddlers on the north wall of the main Index gallery, and applauded. I guess they knew the artist. I don't have my own picture of that very large foto. It didn't particularly impress me. In the overall foto of that part of the room above (first foto today), it is the second artwork on the right wall going back, behind the young dark-haired woman. When I exited a little while later, I saw a white stretch limo waiting, presumably for that odd little group. These may be some of the people of whom I say, "They have more dollars than sense."
My last picture from the DTJC show is this, which I do not even pretend to understand. It shows a white guy with red tears (?) in a field populated by (ads for) Chinese women. It's visually interesting, but I would not even venture a guess as to its meaning.
The second show on view that nite was a group of foto portraits taken by "Charlie Steiner", about whom nothing was stated in an explanatory sign in the Kedar Studio area where the fotos were shown. I didn't get any email from Kedar itself, but the Newark Arts Council sent out an email that included this text about that show.
We are told of how the 60's, a time of great unrest and new found freedoms, influenced our vision of our world today including the way we dress, vote, love, party, escape, create and respond to new ideas and challenges. The 1960's were years of changing values and shifts in power. Its artists and cultural leaders felt a capacity for influencing the world, though also weighted, even overcome, by its demands. Through the lens of Charlie Steiner, the Kedar Studio of Art will take you into the intimate world of some of these individuals as they faced the trials of daily life and the social circus engulfing them. With this in mind, Kedar presents...
HIGHWAY '67 REVISITED
Photographs by Charlie Steiner
Between 1967 and 1969 Photographer Charlie Steiner was documenting the whirlwind of activity that captivated some of the decade's cultural ambassadors. From Frank Zappa to Bob Dylan to Andy Warhol to the Kennedys, Charlie's pictures have captured some of the most iconic personalities of that period, many of whom went on to greatly influence succeeding generations. Over forty years later and for his first showing in Newark, we are pleased to offer original prints of Mr. Steiner's work as part of this exciting exhibition.
The only foto I was much interested in was this one, of Newark's own Allen Ginsberg. The only person in that exhibit whom I have seen in person is Bob Dylan (in Asbury Park Convention Hall), and I mentioned here December 30, 2008 that I almost booed him.
I told Kevin Darmanie, who is mostly concealed in the foto above (you can see his dreads on the right), that he should have had a note at the picture of Allen Ginsberg (the Beat Generation's most important poet) to point out that he was born in Newark (tho raised in Paterson). Kevin didn't know that, but said he'd have liked to put up a note to that effect, had he known it. I told him he could put up a PostIt, but he didn't. Perhaps he didn't have PostIts on premises.
The colorful Piersanti paintings from Kedar's last show were still on view in the back room. That's appropriate, in that Piersanti is a Jersey City artist.
Above the door from that back room into the main room and on into Index was an interesting painting that seemed to me to suggest, tho it did not actually depict, Jesus's feet before his crucifixion.
Were you to have turned right between Kedar and that main room of Index, you would have entered the Reception Room of the Index Art Center. The announcement I had seen of the shows that nite said there would be fotografs by Matt Gosser, one of my favorite Newark artists, who is most notable for his "Ar+cheology" shows of works created from objects found at old Newark buildings before they were demolished. But when I got there, I saw no fotos at all.
Rather, the walls were covered with crossword puzzles, some with writing on them, and very large painted numbers. I saw Lowell Craig, one of the principals of Index, and said something like, 'I thought there were supposed to be fotografs here by Matt Gosser.' Lowell replied, "I'm as puzzled as you are."
Matt, who is the nice-looking young man with the neat short hair speaking to a woman at the far wall, said hello, and I asked about the foto display that had been announced. He said he didn't want to show fotos because he has moved on, and fotografy is not something he wants to dwell on. I said something like, "If your fotografy period is over, it's like you died [as a fotografer] so the value of your fotos should go up, up, up" (gesturing), and thus he should display and sell now, [while he is actually alive to benefit]. He wouldn't even have to fake his own death, as artists have been said, at least in fiction, to do. But he said, no, he would return to fotografy someday.
Then he asked if I had figured out the puzzle. The walls are covered with crossword puzzles. But he said the cipher is in the painted numbers. I said no [in that I hadn't even known there was a puzzle] and asked if he had seen the long wall of figures at Rupert Ravens a couple of shows ago (first foto of my blogpost of February 10, 2010) that looked like a puzzle. He said yes, and he loved it. So now, dear reader, I show you the painted numbers. The room is small, so I couldn't get the whole of the 4 in, but everything else is shown entire. I have no patience with puzzles, but if you do, here's one for you. If you think you have it figured out, let me know (resurgencecity[on]aol.com) and I will check with Matt to see if you're right.
I have one last puzzle for you. Is smoking really permitted in commercial/gallery spaces in Newark? Note the cigarets in the hands of some people in my picture of the crowd in the Reception Room. I had not known that some of the most prominent (young) people in Newark arts are smokers before I saw them in the Reception Room (this show or last), because smoking was banned in the other locations in which I saw them. I lost a lot of respect for them when I saw them smoking. I thought they were smarter than that, and more respectful of themselves.
The shows described above run until February 11th. 585 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102; www.indexartcenter.org; index.gallery[on]gmail.com; Gallery ph. (862) 218-0278. Gallery hours: Thur: 6-9 pm; Fri: 1-4 pm; Sat: 1-4 pm. Viewing appointments are welcome."