Like a lot of artists, Ricardo Roig found his way to Hoboken through a circuitous route. He’s a Jamaica, Queens, native whose family moved to Westfield, N.J. After high school, he attended the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), followed by Kean University, which landed him back in New Jersey.
His wife, Michelle, teaches Spanish in Westfield.
He needed to work in order to pay for his teaching degree at Kean, so a buddy got him a job waiting tables at Hoboken’s Elysian Café. He moved to Hoboken in 2007 and taught art in Westfield from 2011 to 2018.
“Hoboken is the Greenwich Village of New Jersey,” he says. “But I didn’t want to be in New York City because I’d get washed out. Hoboken has a nice art scene, it’s close to New York, there’s a lot of inspiration, a lot of energy.”
In 2010, he exhibited his art for the first time at Hoboken Arts & Music Festival and had his first solo show at IMAGO. In 2012, the Hoboken Historical Museum bought 10 Roig pieces for its permanent collection.
Shaping and Reshaping
A random elective course in screen printing determined the trajectory of his art career. His work, he says, is a “mix between abstract and representational. He lives in flux, on the threshold of ebb and flow, push and pull, abstract and representation. My art is grounded in our mind’s ability to see shapes come together and break apart.”
OK, that was a bit of art-speak, but you get the picture. Studying painting, he says, helped him “learn how to see as a painter.” He also does collage.
His original gallery was at 252 First St. Now he has a gallery in the W Hotel, and the First Street space has been taken over by his framer, Red Lion.
The W gallery had its grand opening on May 19. He exhibits only his own work and has a 30-foot window for display. “I get a nice mix of people: collectors, locals, new people, and people walking by on River Street,” he says. Not to mention tourists staying in the swanky W Hotel, and the some 40 residents who live there full-time.
Local interior designer Jenny Madden furnished the W showroom. Her main office is in the Hoboken Business Center.
Roig says he’s shipped pieces to Michigan and Florida, and he’s driving a piece to his old haunt, MICA, in Baltimore. He’s also been talking to folks at Atlantic Records in Los Angeles. He’s been commissioned by the Shake Shack in New York City and the head of alumni marketing at New York University.
“I’m meeting people who I would never meet otherwise,” he says. “The W has tons of events, where I’ve sold a lot of art. A bride who is having a wedding in October bought a piece for her mother as a gift.” He continued, “My art goes with collectors to new places like Sweden, California, Australia, France, and London.”
Most people come to their knowledge of screen printing through Andy Warhol, though today, much of it is computer-generated. Roig’s method merges Japanese woodblock printing and French Impressionism.
“My process is unique and innovative,” Roig says. “Each stencil is cut by hand and each layer of paint applied by hand as opposed to being computer-generated. I am the computer in my mind.” He went on, “I want more artists to create this way and start a movement, and that’s why I’m trying to pioneer and innovate this new contemporary art process.”
He also likes capturing local scenes. “Hoboken changes so rapidly, it’s nice to have a piece of the nostalgic Hoboken you remember.”
Says Roig, “I want my art to bring a sense of enchantment back into our lives, and to see something as if for the first time again and again.”—Kate Rounds