Since opening slightly more than two years ago, the old bank has taken over some of the activities formerly hosted by the Bayonne Public Library and Culture Center, providing space for everything from antique shows to Irish song festivals. The Art Circle—which was once operated by a clutch of local artists—now hosts shows here under the auspices of a new cultural affairs director, while the city seeks to make even more use of a space that had lain dormant for so many years.
On June 14 from 6 to 11 p.m., some of these activities will spill out onto the streets in what is being called The First Annual Bayonne Arts and Music Festival, which will take place on Broadway between 9th and 10th streets.
An outgrowth of the idea of drawing attention to the museum as a cultural center near the Bergen Point section of the city, the event will also help promote local businesses in the area, and will feature live music inside and outside the museum.
The Bayonne High School Jazz Band will perform inside the museum, while local classic rock favorite the Ziggy Christie Band will play oldies music on the street.
These shows in some ways help bring back some of the classic events that took place uptown before the state cut Urban Enterprise Zone funding several years ago.
While city officials said the festival will not have vendors this year the way festivals do in other Hudson County towns, there will be a variety of outdoor demonstrations, and outdoor seating.
An art exhibit will open at the Bayonne Community Museum on June 14, and will continue on Saturday, June 15 from 6 to 10 p.m., and Monday through Friday, June 17 to 21, from 5. to 7 p.m.
Participating restaurants will include the 8th Street Broadway Diner and Bistro, R&B’s, Sarelli’s, and Tony’s Pizzeria.
The Ziggy Christie Band is known for classic rock-and-roll and its dual guitarists and vocalists.
The event is presented by Mayor Mark A. Smith, the City Council, and the Bayonne Arts Circle. Its organizers said this was a natural outgrowth of having arts exhibits at the museum, and some of the artists featured in previous shows will display works.
Caryn La Grecca, a prolific and talented local photographer, who has displayed photographs of Bayonne from Hudson County Park in the north to the Bayonne Bridge in the south, said she will be presenting work featuring Sunset on Panther Beach Santa Cruz California during the festival.
Animal lover Patty Mulligan, who has shown photographs of past pets in previous exhibits, is still looking over her work.
Yes, I will be participating,” she said. “I will be putting in photography again. Not sure I have a theme though, still random until I go through my albums.”
City officials said the event took about two months to plan, and that outdoor events will include a live sketch artist and other artists who will paint on board.
The music, officials said, was selected to draw a wide range of ages.
“The City of Bayonne likes to include our youth,” said City Spokesperson Joe Ryan. “That is why the Bayonne High School Jazz Band is playing at the museum. R&B’s hired the Ziggy Christie Band.”
The food will reflect the menus of the participating neighborhood businesses.
Andrew Sharp, director of the Arts Circle, has been working since the beginning of the year to bring together some of the local talent and at the same time to raise awareness of the community museum as a viable venue for public displays.
Built in 1912 as the Bayonne Community Trust, the museum has been in development for almost a decade, finally opening its doors to the public last March.
“Not only did we want to open this space up for public displays,” Sharp said earlier this year, “but we want this to become a center of the arts in Bayonne. We would like to offer a show once a month if possible.”
Along with graphic and other fine arts, he said, he would like to hold concerts, classes, and other shows in the space as well.
“It’s about promoting arts and culture,” Sharp said.
The former Bayonne Trust Company building on Broadway, near the 8th Street station of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail, and a number of bus lines, was delayed because it needed a lot of work and money to get ready.
City officials hope the museum will become one of the key pieces in the revitalization of the lower section of the city near Bergen Point.
The city took ownership from Fleet Bank in 2002 for no cost, but had to install air conditioning, new floors, a new roof, and other work in order to make it a viable place—work done through the Bayonne Community Museum, Inc., a private, nonprofit corporation. The facility has also been used for public information sessions by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the raising of the Bayonne Bridge Roadway, as well as offices for FEMA after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy late last year.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.