Today was the second day of JCAST – the JC Artists’ Studio Tour. Several places in McGinley Square participated. Here’s a quick roundup of the ones I went to. Note that some of the shows continue on past the weekend, through the end of the month.
St. Paul’s Church: Loving Arms: Artists Explore Gun Culture (Sept 30 – Oct 26; more info stpaulsjc.org)
This is a sprawling group show in one of the small buildings of St. Pauls on Duncan Ave. It’s a mix of painting, drawing, and mixed media works, with a few large installation/sculptures. One of the latter sculptures is pictured here, called Where have all the tissues gone? Homicides in Hudson County by Beth Bently, which wall text described as a “three-dimensional bar graph to memorialize those who were victims of homicide in Hudson County from 2015 to the present” with each tissue box on the totem representing a victim.
The show is a mix, with not all pieces necessarily being “anti-gun” or “activist art.” Painter Caroline Parks had a triptych of gouache on wood paintings of children’s toy guns that I especially liked (but was unable to get a good pic of).
I was impressed by the level of ambition that the curators had in this show. With well over a dozen artists and upcoming related performances in the mix, pulling this off and making it look as good as they did was no small feat. The space at St. Paul’s is not, by any means, a polished gallery space – it’s a multi-use, funky church space, after all (I’ve never been in this space before, but the entire feel of it reminded me a bit of Judson Church in the West Village, which has served as an incubator to the arts since the 1960s). But there was something very touching about this exhibition that felt very authentic to the environment and the surrounding community. I really hope they continue to put on more shows.
CremaJC: Lorenzo Irico (corner of Duncan and Bergen)
The space that used to be Harry Street Coffee and is slated to open as ice cream parlor CremaJC has a show of Lorenzo Irico‘s work. This is a pop-up, temporary space and I’m not sure how long the show will remain up – information about the show was scarce. The work was very pop-surrealist influenced, and well painted.
It was a really nice use of the space and it was good to see a solo show professionally displayed. I enjoyed the strangely ornate frames around some of the pieces in particular. There was an unfinished piece on display that I assume the artist was working on when he was there, and it was helpful to see his work in process.
Clara Arts: Sisao Nabru: Tranquility in Retrograde; Patrick Eugene, Julian Rapp, Josana Blue; 709 Bergen Ave. (Sept 16 – Oct 21; open weekends 12-6 and weekdays by appointment)
McGinley Square has its own fully-dedicated, storefront art gallery now. The architecture of McGinley Square makes Clara Arts look more like an old-school Upper East Side gallery than anything in Chelsea (which in my book is a really good thing) – modest-sized and with a low ceiling, nicely lit. This three person show was all painting; mostly expressionistic abstractions, with influences ranging from Antoni Tapies to Matisse to Guston at mid-career.
The press release poses the question, Facing the demands of modern day hyper-productivity, what does the urban oasis look like now that we’re more likely to stumble upon a fully packed subway car than an idyllic hillside? I’m not sure the exhibition quite answers that, but the it does highlight the work of these three painters and their well-executed paintings which are immersed in a dialogue of historical abstraction.