Border crossing
Mana Contemporary to exhibit internationally acclaimed artist Ray Smith’s ‘Here Now’
by E. Assata Wright
Reporter staff writer
Feb 14, 2013 | 13611 views | 0 0 comments | 207 207 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ray Smith, Guernimex III (La Olympiada), 1989-90, oil on wood. Collection of Franceso Pellizzi, New York.
Ray Smith, Guernimex III (La Olympiada), 1989-90, oil on wood. Collection of Franceso Pellizzi, New York.

When the Gowanus-based art studio of painter Ray Smith was flooded during Hurricane Sandy, a Jersey City arts center opened its doors to help him salvage decades of damaged work.

Smith is now preparing to exhibit more than 100 paintings at Mana Contemporary as part of what the center is calling his “post-Sandy revitalization.” The unusual exhibit will run throughout five floors of Mana – the first time any single show has done so – and will be part traditional exhibition, part interactive experiment.

The show, titled “Here Now,” will be a representation of Smith’s work over the course of his career, but will also try to reveal elements of his lifestyle, artistic philosophy, and themes that recur throughout his pieces.


“Here Now” will be a representation of Smith’s work over the course of his career.


Thus, a major portion of Here Now will be dedicated to a large-scale collaborative work installation on Mana’s second floor that will be continually worked on by Smith and painters from Mana’s studio space. Smith has been part of similar collaborations in parts of New York City.

Counterintuitive imagery

A native of Brownsville, Texas, Smith spent many years living in Mexico and now divides his time between living in New York City and Mexico.

His time spent living below the border has clearly influenced his style, which draws from the large murals that can be found in many parts of Mexico’s rural landscape. Smith’s aesthetic incorporates many images and themes common in Latin American art.

For “Here Now,” the first floor of Mana will be dedicated to Smith’s current works, and will be subtitled “Exquisite Corpse.” The “Exquisite Corpse” paintings are somewhat collage-based and rely on a series of small images that are pieced together to comprise a new and larger work. Meanwhile, the fifth floor of the exhibit will be devoted to some of Smith’s older, mural-sized works.

The sixth floor gallery space operated by Eileen S. Kaminski Family Foundation will showcase a few selections from Smith’s private collection, in addition to pieces by anthropologist and art critic G.T. Pellizzi. Mana’s fourth floor will exhibit “The Execution of Maximilian: Border Paintings,” a series of Smith-Pellizzi painting that Ricks said “have to do with conflict and violence along the U.S.-Mexican border.”

The paintings were partly inspired by Edouard Manet’s series “The Execution of Emperor Maximilian.”

Art, the way it was meant to be displayed

Open for nearly two years now, the 1 million-square-foot Mana Contemporary is a multi-dimensional art center that serves several functions for artists, art patrons, collectors, and the general Jersey City community. The center includes several artist studio spaces, which are open to the public each Sunday. The center includes a vast climate controlled warehouse in which art collectors are already storing valuable paintings that are not currently on display in museums or galleries. And private viewing rooms are available in which art collectors can meet privately to negotiate sales.

Mana’s staff includes art professionals skilled in the areas of repair, restoration, and appraisal. Mana co-founders Yigal Ozeri and Eugene Lemay, painters both, also lease out space to gallery owners, like the Eileen S. Kaminski Family Foundation, who wish to exhibit the collections of art investors/collectors.

“Here Now” opens at Mana on Sunday, March 3.

In addition to the upcoming Ray Smith exhibit, Mana is currently showing a rarely-seen collection of works by Keith Haring through Feb. 24.

Mana Contemporary is located at 888 Newark Ave.

E-mail E. Assata Wright at

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