Running from May1 through 28, the exhibition "NoHu Visions 2004" will be on display in the redone Salon Gallery of the Park Performing Arts Center. Eight visual artists have been invited to participate, and include some of those most recognized prominent members of the art community.
"This will be the third show we've had at the Park Performing Arts Center," said Meriam Lobel, artistic director for the Park PAC. "More artists are coming to us an each artist we meet introduces us to a whole new group of people."
The last two exhibits consisted of individual shows by North Bergen-based artist Chris Nowlan and West New York-based artist Arturo Arboleda, and they will both be returning for this third show as part of the eight NoHu artists. It was through the networking, mainly on the part of Chris Nowlan, that the other five artists were located to be a part of this exhibit.
"I had the first show in December," said Nowlan, 39. "I grew up in South Jersey, but I've lived here ten years with my wife and I've passed the Park Theater thousands of times. I always thought it was a small theater."
Recently re-launching his painting career last year, Nowlan started to look for space to exhibit his work.
"I was excited to come across this space," said Nowlan. "I think it's very ideally located. It's quite a facility."
The gallery, however, is only open to the public by appointment, or when they have performances in the theater. Nowlan, who has now dedicated his time to the Park PAC as a guest curator and visual arts coordinator, believes that the theater could be a hub for NoHu artists, and the relationship formed between the performing arts and visual arts could benefit one another, and draw the attention of the community to the arts.
"My show was relatively successful, and maybe come December we'll have another show," said Nowlan, who hopes to arrange regular visual arts programs, and "get some exhibits established every month."
After meeting Arturo Arboleda and viewing his work, he wanted Arboleda to exhibit in the next show, which hadn't been thought up yet.
"I'm very interested in art that has some meaning to it," said Nowlan.
The Park PAC's second annual fundraiser for May was being organized, and Nowlan thought that the fundraiser could be an excellent opportunity to establish the NoHu artists and introduce them to the public in a group exhibit. Lobel agreed with the idea and the event was set in motion.
"We're trying to match the local artists with people who support the arts," said Nowlan
. Nowlan then sent out news of the exhibit through a popular yahoo account for artists.
"It's the best place to start," said Nowlan. "All the artists in the area need a place to exhibit their work."
Much to Nowlan's surprise, he received more responses from many established, seasoned artists in the area. They have scattered all over the North Hudson area, and at times don't even realize themselves that their neighbors are well-connected artists.
Afterwards Nowlan selected the seven artists that will be joining him in the exhibit, and they all vary from background to style so that the community can see the wide range of diversity between the artists in their area.
The eight artists include Nowlan; Arboleda; France Garrido of Weehawken, who is the founder and past co-director of the Collage/Assemblage Society and curator for slide exhibitions for Pro Arts in Jersey City; Ben Goldman, is an award-winning Weehawken-based artist who has exhibited in 32 U.S. cities and seven countries; Yuriko Hirose, a established Japanese artist who recently relocated to Cliffside Park; Steven Peabody, who currently works in Union City and has executed commissions for private individuals, most notably the four monumental murals that are housed in Madison Square Garden in New York City; Jesus Rivera, a West New York-based artist who has exhibited in the U.S. and internationally; and Jesus Selgas, also of West New York who has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and in Europe.
"I think the Park Theater is one of the hidden treasures of the area," said Goldman, 43, who originated the idea of labeling the area NoHu in comparison to New York's SoHo. It was part of an exhibit he pulled together of North Hudson artists for the Jersey City Museum entitled "New Jersey's Secret SoHo."
Goldman explained that the North Hudson area was like SoHo back in the '60s before it became like an art mecca, but unlike Soho, NoHu has yet to have its glory day.
"This is the area with the best visual artists in the state," he said. "I want people to realize what goes on around here. This area is really categorized as being broken up into these tiny little towns. The NoHu idea is thinking about the area as one area."
Nowlan went around to the artists and picked their strongest pieces to showcase in the exhibit.
"I use several symbols that speak about man with nature and about man with himself," said Jesus Rivera of his post-modern art. "He [Nowlan] picked the pieces he liked the most."
Rivera's reasons for participating in the show were, "Principally the union that can exist between the North Hudson artists because that can spark the interest if the public."
"It's an inspiration," said France Garrido, 54. "It's nice to connect with artists right in my backyard and expose the artistic community to their neighbors."
Garrido is exhibiting four pieces in the exhibit one large piece, acrylic on canvas, and three smaller pieces using pictorial collage. Most of her pieces deal with mediation and spirituality.
"It just came up, it was really spontaneous and I don't exhibit much," said Steven Peabody, 56. "I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Park Theater."
The pieces will be on display throughout May. There will be a reception open to the public on May 14 from 6 to 9 p.m., and the second annual Park Arts Celebration will be May 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. During this fundraiser the NoHu artists' pieces will also be up for sale, and will be additional funding for the Park Theater.
To make an appointment for "NoHu Visions 2004" or get tickets to the May 26 celebration call (201) 865-6980, ext.10.