For most people, Bergenline Avenue in West New York is simply a great place to pick up everything from homemade pastries to discount baby furniture. But for Sylvan Meneses, a 24-year-old production assistant at Town & Country magazine, the celebrated strip is also the subject of a series of photographs that will be displayed at Maxwell's bar/restaurant in Hoboken throughout the month of February.
In an exhibit entitled "Reflections," Meneses' photographs focus on the area's storefronts to capture the neighborhood's unique personality.
Sylvana Meneses was born in Chile. She moved to Bloomfield, N.J. with her family when she was 3 years old and began taking photographs when she was a teenager.
"I started taking pictures in high school," she said last week from her office at Town & Country. "And I became even more involved in college."
It wasn't until she enrolled in a color photography course at William Patterson University that she realized the optic delights just waiting to be unearthed in West New York.
"I was taking a course in color photography and we needed to find a good subject for color," she said. "I had been going to West New York since I was a kid. Growing up, we always went there because it's a largely Hispanic neighborhood. It has great food and great pastries."
Specifically, Meneses was drawn to the almost dizzying array of objects found in the storefronts along Bergenline Avenue.
"I started focusing on storefront windows because they're so eclectic," she explained. "For instance, a beauty shop in West New York is so different than a CVS in Bloomfield. They put so many images in the windows - like wigs - to try and lure people in."
The surfeit of subject matter, combined with the natural sunlight, gave Meneses' photographs an almost surreal quality.
"If you look at the windows on a sunny day, the lights create dreamy images," she explained. "They almost look like double exposures."
Meneses said she is also interested in the way weather impacts the area's aesthetic.
"I've been taking pictures there for four years," she said. "And the pictures always look totally different depending on the sunlight or the mood."
While Meneses also shoots storefronts in other areas, like Manhattan's West Village, she keeps returning to West New York.
"I never get bored because the neighborhood is always changing and evolving," she said. "Every single time I go there it looks new."
Joining Meneses' photographs will be paintings featuring abstract dreamy landscapes and colorful images of nature by Danielle Dickinson, an artist from Nutley. Maxwell's is located at 1030 Washington St., Hoboken. There will be an opening reception on Monday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. For more information call (201) 653-1703.