Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2009 Hoboken Artists Studio Tour

[1. Signage at Hoboken City Hall (94 Washington Street). Recent cityscapes, Tim Heins, oil on canvas. “Happily I Am Singing,” Francine Demeulenaere, vinyl on canvas. “Love Is Necessary” (2008) & “Truth” (2008), Antonio Estevez, oil on canvas. 2. “Untitled,” Nina Akai, oil on canvas. Various works by Owen Gray, oil on paper on panel. “Hoboken in Black & White” (2009), Jason Jaskot. Various works by Drew Dernavich (2007-2009), acrylic & spray paint on canvas. 3. Various works, Santiago Cohen. Series from 2008-2009, Laura Alexander, oil on canvas. Various works by John Patterson, acrylic & pencil on paper on canvas. Various works by Veronica Juyoun Byun in various media.]

Hoboken hosted its 29th Artists Studio Tour on Sunday, October 18, 2009. Despite the fact that it ran for six hours from noon to 6 p.m., with over 100 participating artists it was only possible to take in a small portion of its riches. A stop away from the West Village on the PATH train, one only needed to grab a free event program and map at Hoboken City Hall (94 Washington Street between 1st and Newark Streets.) Additionally, there was a free shuttle bus for the tour that made the complete rounds of Hoboken in 40 minutes.

Since I’d started out late, for sheer economy’s sake, my experience was concentrated in two large venues—though the smaller ones can be every bit as interesting. My first destination was Monroe Center for the Arts, the former Levolor Blinds factory that has—since 1990—been a home to an array of painters, photographers, performing artists, and others. Not only do Monroe residents pursue their creative paths here: they also offer a wide range of workshops and classes for children and adults of the community.

Toward the end of my exploration I came to the Neumann Leathers Building, originally a tannery, which has served as a 250,000 square foot studio space for artists and businesses since the early 1980s. A historic building built in 1863, its future is currently in jeopardy as a developer seeks to demolish it in favor of luxury housing units.

In Francine Demeulenaere’s magically fluid compositions, one finds an intersection of the Pointillists George Seurat (1859–1891) and Paul Signac (1863–1935) with the pochoir prints and cutouts of Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Demeulenaere, who studied at the School of Beaux Arts and School of Architecture in Paris, played host to a vibrant gathering of musicians on the day of the tour. This is no surprise since drummers, guitarists, and street musicians find their way into her fresh, geometrically pleasing, and vibrant work.

Realist artist Tim Heins has lived in Hoboken since 1981 and in Neumann Leathers since 1989. He has painted a series of oil-on-canvas cityscapes since 2004, the inspiration for which is found outside one of his studio windows. Looking out his window upon the breadth of Hoboken geography, the train yards of New Jersey Transit below brought to mind Thomas McCarthy’s Independent Spirit Award-winning 2003 film “The Station Agent” in which those yards provided an important scene.

Recipient of the National Cartoonist Society’s “Reuben Award,” New Yorker Magazine cartoonist Drew Dernavich exhibited his compelling and vibrant acrylic and spray paint works on canvas. Featured in volumes one and two of the cartoon anthology “The Rejection Collection,” Dernavich is a co-originator of the New Yorker’s humor blog “The Cartoon Lounge.” His work as also graced the pages of Time, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and The Boston Globe.

Since Owen Gray visited Florida in the 1990s, he has been fascinated with the Everglades. Since then, an array of flora and fauna have found their way onto his wood panels beholding oil-on-paper works. Gray invents—through composition, light, and color—fantastical worlds inhabited by hippos, monkeys, crocodiles, ostriches, and tortoises, among many other creatures. While his artistic home is New York City’s Blue Mountain Gallery, Gray’s work has also been exhibited at The Painting Center, The Drawing Center, Ruth Siegal Gallery, and Woods Hole Gallery (Woods Hole, Massachusetts).

Laura Alexander’s dramatic and evocative oil portraits in their “enhanced” realistic style bring together impasto and deft brushwork. Her work has been shown in numerous venues, including the George Segal Gallery, Ben Shahn Gallery, Portland Institute of Art, Newark Museum, Kunstlerbund Graz (Austria), and the Art Students’ League Juried Alumni Exhibit. The mostly unseen landscape surrounding Jersey City and the Meadowlands and the urban industrial landscape of the metro New York/New Jersey area provide major inspiration to the work of Tim Daly. Daly’s “Three Weeks in September” is a series of 32 mural paintings commissioned by New Jersey Transit for the south mezzanine of the Secaucus Transfer Station—the works occupying the upper part of the two 90-foot-long east and west walls.

The work of John A. Patterson is a series of image events in which he represents the figure as an isolated entity or as one continuous with the ground—transforming his figures from a comic morphology to more stylized, classically referenced depictions. With their variance of pattern and randomness and presence and absence, Patterson strives to render shapes in their dynamic as opposed to static states. Designer of the original Comedy Central logo, Santiago Cohen’s work has appeared in Emmy and Peabody award-winning venues. Not only does he illustrate books and direct film animation, Cohen has designed two wines labels of Clyde Thomas. Cohen’s latest project is an epic painting project of 1,000 oil paintings telling his life story in ex-voto style.

Antonio Estevez enjoys working across the terrain of artistic media—including watercolors, ink, acrylics, pencil, and oils. With influences including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Henri Matisse, early Wassily Kandinsky, and Jackson Pollack, Estevez cuts across abstraction and surrealism on wood, canvas, and paper. Jason Jaskot has compellingly captured Hoboken night scenes with his artful photography. Thankfully for Hoboken, Nina Akai has been a major booster on behalf of the fortunes of the Monroe Center for the Arts—attempting to protect the valuable entity from questionable developer dealings.

Alas, this barely scratches the surface of such a wide-ranging event supported by a large swath of the Hoboken community who wish to preserve the dynamism and vibrant character of this city, due so much in part to its creative residents. In its prolific showcase of artists, this Studio Art tour has rightly become a premier cultural event for Hoboken and a perfect opportunity to explore this wonderful city a short ride away under the Hudson.

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