For one night only
City Hall hosted its third annual art show
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Apr 28, 2013 | 4473 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A FULL HOUSE – Town Hall was filled with people and artwork.
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Everybody has a story. Some tell it by writing while others use visual talents. In Secaucus’s Third Annual Resident Art Show and Reception, art lovers got a mixture of both and much more.

Strangely enough, the Secaucus Municipal Center – with its unique open center that allows the upper floors to look down on the lobby -- had the look of the Guggenheim Art Museum as all walls were decorated with the works of local artists.

While most of the artists weren’t professionals, all were generally professionals in other fields. There were curious exceptions such as Jess Newman, who with a career as special effects person for movies such as “Armageddon,” would seem to have dream job.

“But I really want to make my living doing this,” he said, referring to photographic modifications that transform original photos into amazing fantasy artwork.

He describes his art as “hyper-real,” although there is an aspect of surrealism and even something mystical in many of the pieces he put on display. Residents were anxious to talk to him about how he transformed ordinary images into something magical. Newman’s work has been previously been exhibited in the 2012 International Art Expo in New York City and Art Basel Week in Miami. He said he is planning something big for next year.


“We tried to tie this to National Poetry Month.” – Lee Penna


The one-night show featured about 41 artists, whose works were selected for display by a jury, attesting to surprisingly high quality of work – from the first floor of the lobby to the works displayed on the walls of the three upper floors.

The show drew hundreds of people who were not only treated to a variety art in every shape and size, but also a variety of refreshments.

For the first time, the April 17 event featured a literary segment that included students from the Secaucus schools reading classic poems, and a local poet reading original work.

Poetry too

Featured poet Philibert Kongtcheu, who is an inventor, author and entrepreneur, read original work. He recounted his journey from his native Cameroon, Africa to his current home on County Avenue in Secaucus, managing to overcome the ill effects of polio to get his education. He won a scholarship to study Mathematics in France, and later made his living in software development and other aspects of mathematical calculation in marketing.

Kongtcheu, author of a collection called Yearnings for Life, read several selections.

Lee Penna, community outreach coordinator for the Secaucus Public Library, helped connected the literary and visual arts components.

“We tried to tie this to National Poetry Month,” she said.

Visual artists displayed photography, sculpture, glass blowing, water color, and oil and acrylic paint.

Diana Albert, who creates work under the name of Saha, said had several paintings on display, all of which depicted local scenes such as one of the Hackensack River near Mill Creek Point.

“I work from photographs,” she said. “I’ve been painting for 25 years.”

“I own some of her paintings,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who went from floor to floor and artist to artist apparently as thrilled by the show as any of the residents of the town who came to see it.

The juried art show will include new work from local favorites Charlie Churchill, Doug DePice, Melissa Dargan, and Michael Cohen, in addition to some newer faces, including Jesse Michael Newman, Rachel Wilkins, and Edwin Montalvo.

Gonnelli said the gallery-type show which included people walking around with trays of hor’derves, and two bars set up helped reshape the usual governmental space into something special.

Glass-blower Craig Ellison, who studied his craft at Brooklyn’s Urban Glass and the Corning Museum of Glass in New York, had his computer on hand to show some of the work he had displayed previously at the Secaucus Public Library, and said he currently works out of facilities in Newark.

“It’s primarily a hobby for me,” he said.

He noted that he got his start when he went to another show years ago, and got hooked on the idea that he could create similar works.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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