These two women have done much to build the scene in neighboring Hoboken and Jersey City, creating events that have vast appeal to the public.
Although both women do many things to promote the arts in their towns, they are perhaps best known singularly for the Arts & Music (Fallo) in Hoboken and JC Fridays (Goodman) in Jersey City.
Fallo, Goodman and other women in the arts were recently honored by the county at the Brennan Court House for their contributions.
Geri Fallo, the director of Cultural Affairs in Hoboken for 14 years, has created many events throughout her tenure as Hoboken's cultural queen.
As director, Fallo organized events that started small and grew to become large, highly anticipated events, such as the Arts & Music Festival, which is held every May and September.
Fallo's position was created during the administration of Mayor Anthony Russo, when now-Mayor David Roberts, then a member of the City Council, had a dream of creating a cultural event in town that would rival those in New Hope, Pa. That event was the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival.
"Geri's commitment to the arts in Hoboken has been extraordinary," said Roberts last week. "Along with the other women from our city who were recognized for their achievements, Geri exemplifies all that is positive about our artistic community."
Fallo remembers that the event began with only 75 artists with tables extending a few blocks. She watched as it grew to encompass all of Washington Street, from Observer Highway to Seventh Street. It now includes two stages of live music, hundreds of artists, and the "Kiddie Stage," which provides entertainment for families.
Over the years, the festival has included the musical talents of Patti Smith, Richie Havens, The New York Dolls, Joan Jett, The Bongos, The Smithereens, and others.
"It was pretty exciting. One of the best festivals was with Joan Jett. It was so crowded. It was amazing," said Fallo.
This spring's headliner is Micky Dolenz of the Monkees. The festival draws locals as well as guests from out of town and boasts crowds of 40,000 plus at each event.
In addition to the festival, Fallo organizes the outdoor summer events, which include: weekly movie screenings on Pier A ("Movies Under the Stars"), outdoor theater, yoga and fitness classes, summer concerts, art in the park for families and much more.
She was a pioneer of the film screening series, Projected Images, which included artist talks in addition to the screenings. The series began in the 1980s and included cutting-edge films, similar to what one would find at art houses in Manhattan. The series, which started at Maxwell's, then moved to Live Tonight (now the Whiskey Bar) before finding its home at the Shannon Lounge.
Projected Images is also a co-sponsor with the City of Hoboken for the "Movies Under the Stars" summer series.
"I have to say some of my best memories were with Projected Images," said Fallo. "It was the beginning for me with organizing films in Hoboken. One of the reasons I started there was because I love films. I got to meet other filmmakers like John Sayles."
She added, "But it really was a community thing. People used to tease me, because in the beginning, it was me, my shopping cart, and a projector organizing the films. Obviously, eventually more people got involved. I used to bump into people all over the place who would say, 'Look, it's the movie lady.' Now, people will say to me, 'Look, Geri's marking the curb [for the Art & Music Festival]. It must be spring.' "
But that isn't all Fallo has done for the city. She also works on the Artist Studio Tour, KiddiePalooza, the fall hayride, summer enchanted evenings, and the holiday craft fair, among others.
Fallo said a big part of making art events happen is having a passion for it. She said that in the beginning, she had to give up a lot of things in order to make Projected Images happen.
"When you are following your passion," said Fallo "Nothing else really matters because you are feeding your soul."
A key to the city
Goodman, who is the founder and director of Art House Productions, had a modest start in Jersey City with her first open mic night. Begun in the wake of Sept. 11, Goodman felt the need to reach out to the art community at large.
Her open mic series, which is just one of the events that she produces, has expanded to include large audiences and noted performers.
She believes that the art scene has grown since 2001.
"It really is alive and in full swing now," said Goodman. "There is stuff happening every day of the week. I just feel that it has totally taken off and I'm just thrilled to be a part of it."
In addition to her recent tribute in Jersey City, Goodman received a proclamation and a key to the city from Mayor Healy in December for her work with the event "JC Fridays."
"JC Fridays" is a free, all-day event which includes art, performances, music, and more that is held four times a year at the change of every season.
The event has expanded beyond just the downtown area and now has the support of the UEZ zone, which will help to get more local businesses involved. The next "Friday" is scheduled for June 6 and marks the third anniversary. The momentum is gaining for arts events like "Fridays," which draws on average over 1,000 people to each one.
Goodman said that the arts scene is expanding beyond just the downtown area.
"It is happening now," said Goodman. "There is a collaborative movement. The community is ready to travel and the residents definitely want it. There is a need."
In addition to preparing for the next "Friday," Goodman is involved in developing a multi-media play that will run the last three weekends in June at Art House.
The play is an original piece and collaborative piece that she is co-creating with Jack Halpin and other writers and artists.
Fans of Art House will remember the stunning multi-media production of Camino Real last year or the original multi-media production of The Heist Project in 2005.
Additionally, she will perform spoken word on the last Wednesday of May at the Lex Leonard Building.
Recognized for achievements
"I was thrilled," said Goodman about the county award ceremony. "It was great to see that they were presenting the award to women across the board in Hudson County, who do so much for the arts."
She added, "It was great to see and celebrate the women's success. You had dancers, bakers, women who run publications who support the arts, arts leaders from a government perspective, like Geri Fallo. It takes a village to support the arts and I think that the women who were nominated represented that. And women are awesome - they should be honored every day of the year."
Fallo also was thrilled to be included with such a noteworthy group of women.
"It was amazing. It was so nice to be honored in that way and to be honored with such an incredibly talented group of women," said Fallo. "Some of the women are women you hear about, but then to be recognized for your achievements with them - it's overwhelming. You are being honored, but it is also humbling."
Diana Schwaeble can be reached at: email@example.com.