Making a statement
Curators Garth Kobal and Meredith Lippman put together the first "What Have You Got To Say?" exhibit in 2004 as a way to get the artists share their opinions about the political climate during the presidential election. After the success of the first show, they decided to do another exhibit with the same name to allow more artists to be heard.
This exhibit features the art on the walls and the DVD portion of the show, which has almost an equal amount of art featured in it. Joining Kobal and Lippman as curators for this year's show are Ev Stone and Stephanie Wright. According to Kobal, there are a lot of new artists in this show.
"We have artists from deeper parts of the country," said Kobal. "[The show] has gotten attention by word of mouth. We are looking at this as a grass roots movement." The curators want the show to grow and move to other parts of the country. Since opening, there is a gallery in New York City that has expressed an interest in moving the exhibit to Manhattan. According to Kobal, some of the artists are working with mediums that are new to them or they expressed themselves differently for this idea.
"The issue that seems to come up in every show is censorship," said Kobal. "People are scared of things. They are afraid to say things now. More so than 10 years ago."
According to Stone, the work in this show ranges from the narrative to the figurative. It speaks about bad relationships, language barriers, torture, prejudice, and government. "There is some really interesting work," said Stone. "Very riveting work. There is a lot of great work here outside of just straight Bush bashing."
Stone said that they wanted work that was talking about something more than "puppy dogs and flowers." Both Kobal and Stone said that they have received strong reactions from the show.
"The show attracts both artists and guests that are from the liberal end of the spectrum," said Kobal. "But then again, artists tend to be liberal. It would be unusual to find an artist that is conservative."
At the opening weekend, on Sept. 8, video statements were filmed from members of the audience and the artistic community, who wanted to stand on the soap box and share their opinion. The video was edited down to an hour segment and will be shown in a continuous loop this weekend during the studio tour on Saturday and Sunday.
"The soap box represented the hope," said Kobal. "In the media installation there is the hope. The physical exhibit shows all the pain and the anger, but the performance art is hopeful."
Many of the artists created work that is somewhat disturbing, while some opted for a more humorous approach - yet all of it is designed to make one think.
Ernest Shukara Walker painted an image of a black man blind folded and smoking titled "Hoodwinked."
Joseph Blaine Whisenhunt featured a photograph of a person wearing a full face mask called "Wearable Life-Support System."
Artist Michael Kabbash has three pieces in the show, two are glossy posters that look like they could be company ads, but are actually on government security. The other is a game called "The Patriot Act." His work is clever and mordantly funny, when you read the print.
Tina Krause created dresses for her manikins, one is called "Blood Money" and is a dress fashioned out of a plastic garbage bag and $20 dollar bills.
Other artists include: Beth Achenbach, Ade, Aileen Bassis, Bent, Beth Bentley, Gianluca Biachino, Robin Buehler, Doris Cacoilo, Rosetta Carpenter, Josh Coburn, Leigha Cohen, William Coronado, Deborah Crowell, Mark Davis, Darin Defield, Frank de las Mercedes, John Donovan, David, Dziemian, Thomas Egan, Rebecca Feranec, Eileen Ferara, Norm Francoeur, Erinn Frayer, Tina Garcia, Joel Gertler, Jasmine Graf, Zach Green, Cheryl Gross, Kayt Hester-Lent, Carmen Kolodzey, Robert Kosinski, Hiroshi Kumagai, Tina Krause, Dave Lancet, Ira Landgarten, Wendy Lewis, Laurel Lueders, Angela Mark, Andrew McConnell, Kathleen McDonald, Nikolai Melnikov, Jesus Eusse Moreno, Kelly Murphy, Ibou Ndoye, Katrin Paul, Bob Perrault, Alexander Petti, Luisa Pinzon, James Prez, K. Shingavi Rambert, Jason Rivera, Rock Soup artists, John Ruddy, Shannon Russell, Michael Shores, Steven Singer, Nyugen Smith, William Stamos, Viva Stowell, Greg Strid, Sandra Swieder, Trish Szymanski, Amanda Thackray, KimSu Theiler, Jeramy Turner, Donald Waller, Carol Westfall, Olivia Wilber, Michael Wiley, Tom Wilson, Jonathon Wolf, Jesse Wright, Aaron Zimmerman, Masha Zolotarsky.
"What Have You Got To Say? 2006" is part of the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour. Mana Fine Arts is located at 227 Coles St. in Jersey City. The exhibit can be viewed Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call: (800) 330-9659.