Though it was a gloomy evening Sept. 11 that came with pouring rain, it did not stop over 30 artists from showcasing their craft at the annual “Celebrate Art 2009” event as part of the Nohu Cultural Center at St. Johns Episcopal Church in Union City.
The event was also part of Union City’s Art Month, held throughout September.
The church’s basement became the location where the majority of the exhibits were displayed and where wine and hors d’oeuvres made their appearance on white tables in the center of the room. Art aficionados and newcomers roamed and mingled with one another.
Over 30 artists showcased their work at the Nohu Cultural Center.
“Toni is my friend. I’m happy to be here,” said Omiros.
Toni Fukuda, a Weehawken resident, was the coordinator of the event.
“We’re very excited to present artists of high caliber in Union City,” said Fukuda, who in the past has organized “Celebrate Art” showcases in Hudson County and other artistic gallery openings in New York City. “I love the arts,” added Fukuda.
Toni’s husband, James, said that if there was a theme to this year’s show, it would be the answer to the question “Who is an American?”
“We all are,” said James who noted that a culmination of past events that dealt with issues such as national security and the economic downturn have made some people ask that question.
On the cover of the events program was a painting called “Yes, I am,” painted by artist Sarah Detweiler from Hoboken. It features a woman covered by an American Flag.
While the majority of artists presented their visual craft, a vocalist known simply as Lisa Marie from Union City demonstrated her soprano operatic tunes to those that walked in through the front doors. Her song of choice: “God Bless America.”
Wearing a black and red sparkling dress, she stood on the altar near the church’s organ and exhaled breaths accompanied by a booming voice that required no microphone to fill every crevice of the room.
“I’m so happy to be here and I’d like to thank St. John’s church,” said Marie.
The singer has come a long way to achieve her dream. At a very young age, she was told that her talent was not strong enough to carry over to a professional career, which left Marie devastated and ready to abandon the dream. A few years then passed before the singer embarked on her goal toward becoming a professional soprano singer.
Since then, Marie went on to train in Europe and throughout the country. She sings in several languages and in several genres, though opera remains her specialty.
Originally from Philadelphia, Marie came to Union City four years ago to further develop her talent due to the proximity to New York City. At the same time, she became very ill and for a while again she thought her dream was over. But through the help of the Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation (PERC) in Union City, a non-profit organization assisting those in impoverished and homeless circumstances, Marie was able to receive free groceries during the times she needed it the most.
Marie also said that through Mayor Brian Stack’s rental assistance program, she was able to obtain the initial payments required to sign the lease to her home.
“I’m very grateful to Mayor Brian Stack for his help and to PERC for their generosity,” said Marie, who added that she wanted to take the opportunity to share her story to convey the inaccuracy of the stereotypes about recipients of emergency social services.
Marie said she appreciated being a Union City resident and a part of the art month celebration.
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at email@example.com