Among the biggest events of the year are always the municipally-sponsored art tours and festivals, which lure thousands of visitors from the tri-state area. Hoboken holds two art and music festivals per year, and both Hoboken and Jersey City draw art lovers to their autumn "Artist Studio Tours" where attendees can traipse from studio to studio watching artists at work.
This past spring, the headliner at the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival was to be Donovan Leitch. As it turned out, rains forced fans inside that day to see the '60s rocker in the confines of the Debaun Auditorium instead of outdoors. The rest of the festival was rescheduled for the following weekend - where poet laureate of punk Patty Smith (Because the Night, People Have the Power) headlined. For the fall festival, visitors grooved to the sounds of Eric Burdon of the Animals (House of the Rising Sun, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood).
In October, Hoboken and Jersey City hosted their artist studio tours. Hoboken's 22nd Artist Studio Tour expanded to two days. In the past, there had been years with two days of tours, but each day featured different studios.
"It's a different experience than going to see works just hung on the wall," said City Director of Cultural Affairs Geri Fallo. "You get to meet the artist face to face, and you get to see how their train of thought is."
Jersey City hosted its largest Artist Studio Tour yet in October, with almost 500 displayers trumping last year's 300, requiring 20 new venues. Thousands of visitors came by over the weekend.
Struggle at 111 First St.
The day was not without its problems, though. The residents of Jersey City's 111 First St., a former factory building that is now filled with artists' lofts, were not allowed to have visitors for much of the tour. The artists have been locked in a struggle with manager Lloyd Goldman over issues including rent hikes, the demolition of parts of the building, and Goldman's desire to build condos on the property. Some of the demolition has ensued, and court battles will continue into the new year. At the end of this year, the artists held a benefit art show to help their cause.
Nevertheless, there were venues that shined in Jersey City regarding the visual arts. The Hudson County office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs opened up the rotunda of the Justice William Brennan Courthouse on Newark Avenue to art exhibitions, kicking off in October with the Urban Complex, which featured 23 artists from five Hudson County towns.
"The idea was to show that art was being made professionally in our municipalities, not just Jersey City and Hoboken, which are well known for having professional arts," said Curator Meredith Lippman. "The other piece of it was to introduce the courthouse as a venue for professionally curated arts shows."
In addition, café tables are set up on the third Friday of every month for people to enjoy coffee shop-style entertainment with open mic music.
Art fans also got to enjoy a late autumn crafts fair in Hoboken. And at 720 Monroe St. in Hoboken, artists opened up their studios the first Sunday of each month for visitors.
A group of eight artists in Union City also had an exhibition, "NoHu (North Hudson) Visions 2004)," in the Salon Gallery of the Park Performing Arts Center.
Secaucus saw artists like Bobby Travieso featured in exhibits in the area and attending shows in Secaucus at the Meadowlands Convention Center.
Familiar venues like the Whiskey Bar, Willie McBride's, the Goldhawk, Maxwell's, and Shannon Lounge in Hoboken continued to feature live music, and the local scene is thriving. One change in the Hoboken music scene was the relocation of the open mic art show, Artkore. Artkore features a local original band as an anchor of an open mic night that brings musicians and poets together to check each other out. The scene moved this year from Rodeo Ristra, and after a brief stint at the Shannon Lounge is continuing Tuesdays at Rue De Jardin.
On January 21, Hoboken original acts will get together at Maxwell's for Hoboken Rocks, featuring Marc Giannotti, Crewmand Number Six, Butterspy, Motel Creeps, Karyn Kuhl, High Speed Chase, and Eugene. The show is an attempt to bring more attention to original bands and make the music more accessible.
"The music scene has really been picking up over the last few years," said Jamie Della Fave from Eugene, who organized the show. "Every time there is a show, there is a great crowd that comes out to hear original music. We want to open it up and include as many original musicians as we can."
The Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center in Weehawken completed its second season, with 17 concerts since it opened in August, 2003. Some of the shows included Paquito D'Rivera, Sergio and Odair Assad, the Persuasions, the Holmes Brothers, the Claremont Trio, The Duprees, and Ollabelle. The organization is hoping to raise funds to build an arts center on Weehawken's southern waterfront.
Local rappers from Jersey City, North Bergen and Guttenberg were in the news with new songs and new styles.
Movies, TV, and theater
The Hudson County movie industry grew in 2004, with big screen productions like Steven Speilberg's War of the Worlds starring Tom Cruise being filmed in Bayonne, and independent productions like Hellfish's Glow Ropes in Secaucus.
Skylar Entertainment came onto the Hudson County scene, teaming up with Hoboken resident Robert Capelli for his third film, Waltzing Anna, which he stared in, co-wrote, and produced.
The old guard reared its head when Budd Schulberg came to Hoboken for the 50th anniversary of On The Waterfront. On a more modern front, newcomer screenwriters Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg co-wrote Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, which featured characters living in Hoboken. There were a few seconds of street scenes filmed on location, but of course, the filmmakers had to go out of town for a shot of the protagonist finding a parking spot.
Reality TV came to the area on a number of levels. NY Giants backup quarterback and Hoboken's resident hunk, Jesse Palmer, starred as this year's The Bachelor. Jersey City resident Sharae Robinson appeared on MTV's Room Raiders, and Hoboken resident Roger Hazard came home to redesign two houses for A&E's Sell This House, where he is the resident home stager.
A number of residents were featured in this year's NYC Fringe Festival, including poet Christine Goodman's one woman show with Sleeping With Management, and Baja bartender Kerry Logston appearing in Bitches Funny Presents Cows Gone Wild, which she co-wrote, stared in, and choreographed.
And on Broadway, Hoboken residents Jay and Cindy Gutterman produced the show Brooklyn the Musical, which is still playing at the Plymouth theater.
The Park Theater in Union City was host to a number of productions such as Stories of the Tree, The Passion Play, Vegas, Vegas, Vegas, and A Christmas Carol.
Many Hudson County authors released books this year, including Irwin Chusid, James Kurt, Caroline Leavitt, Helene Stapinski, Caren Lissner, and Jim DeRogatis, whose Kill Your Idols featured pieces by Dawn Eden of Hoboken and Jim Testa of Weehawken.
Inner Swine editor and Hobokenite Jeff Somers, who is a regular contributor to the current back page, participated in a reading in Brooklyn with Lissner.
Hudson County artists, musicians, and writers are becoming bolder as the towns continue to provide venues and fans continue to watch, so 2005 promises to continue the trend.
If you would like to be the subject of a future arts article, e-mail the Reporter chain's arts and entertainment paper, The Hudson Current, at email@example.com (www.hudsoncurrent.com).