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Gone West: The Journey to Jersey City for the 2014 Art & Studio Tour

Jinkee Choi's Ordinary Lion (2011) courtesy the artist

Jinkee Choi’s Ordinary Lion (2011) courtesy the artist

An entire weekend was not enough time to visit all the art worth seeing at this year’s Jersey City Art & Studio Tour (JCAST). After years of steady recognition for the burgeoning arts mecca, the 2014 rendition of the tour had fervent support from local partners and featured an established (and growing!) group of resident artists. Without a doubt this year was the most successfully realized version of the open studio tour to date, fetching tons of press and featuring a wide array of artistic practices alongside screenings, workshops, and live music across venues at sites including City Hall, a public park, and even an historic cemetery.

While downtown Jersey City retains its status as epicenter for all things artistic, challengers to the title come from all sides as the various neighborhoods battle it out. Spots rising in popularity include the Jersey City Heights, Bergen/Lafayette and Journal Square, each adopting their own identities and serving as springboards for artists’ studios. The surge of creative expression was apparent in the wide range of art from abstract painting to contemporary photography, from mixed media to murals.

But let’s get to the good stuff: here are 3 stops on the tour that killed it this time around, along with a partial list worthy of note–keep them in mind when planning next year’s JCAST visit!

1. 150 Bay Street, Downtown/ Powerhouse Arts District

The wide array of artists working in 150 Bay makes it worth the trip, with everything seeming to converge on the building’s 7th floor. From the conceptual constructs of Jinkee Choi to Jonathan Wolf’s abstract canvases, there’s a little something for everyone on view. The technical precision of Robert Kogge is undeniable, the pieces evoking pointillism with a firm nod to Hopper and American realism. A pivotal stop on the Jersey City art tour pilgrimage, make sure to stop in at 150 Bay when you get started near the Grove St. PATH stop.

Still Life by Robert Kogge (courtesy the artist)

Still Life by Robert Kogge (courtesy the artist)


2. 313 Gallery, Downtown: Thomas John Carlson, Atlas Chatter

Head House (2014) by Thomas John Carlson, courtesy the artist

Head House (2014) by Thomas John Carlson, courtesy the artist

Deftly defying Dali with a heightened sense of surrealism informed by photo manipulation, Carlson’s show at 313 Gallery sheds new light on process, revealing the membrane separating reality from fantasy. The works range from explorations of scientific phenomena to psychoanalytical self-portraiture, inspiring the instinct to wonder. Mysterious and captivating, Atlas Chatter remains on view at 313 until 11/23.


3. The Distillery Gallery & Arts space, Jersey City Heights: Jerry Khan, Can You Spare Some Change?

Can You Spare Some Change? Jerry Khan, The Distillery, Jersey City (courtesy the artist and the distillery)

Can You Spare Some Change? Jerry Khan, The Distillery, Jersey City (courtesy the artist and the Distillery)

Artist Jerry Khan’s creepy cartoon figures on view at the Distillery encapsulate emotions latent in the sullen portraiture by such artists as Yoshitomo Nara and Francis Bacon, with a fresh dose of whimsy. The plaintive expressions of the figures and their outsize proportions set against fantastical imagery in some works and against, literally, a wall in another piece, provide amusing and unexpected encounters. His series of portraits painted directly onto bottles provide another fun contrast between his flat painting technique and the bottle’s intrinsic volume. Bonus: creepy characters haven’t been this fun to look at since Nightmare Before Christmas.


Mana Contemporary: Hideki Takahashi's New Kind of Exam (2013)

Mana Contemporary: Hideki Takahashi’s New Kind of Exam (2013)

Worth mention :

Canco Lofts, Journal Square / 888 Newark Avenue-Mana Contemporary, Journal Square / 66o Studios-66o Grand Street

Standout artist: Maurizio Zuluaga,

Working in mixed media with a pop sensibility, Zuluaga’s work mixes print, collage, stencils, and even found objects into dizzying lush creations. It’s been some time since I’ve run into work this eye-catching and fun to explore.

Maurizio Zuluaga, jimmi blue

Maurizio Zuluaga, jimmi blue



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