The Jersey City Museum held its annual “Artrageous on the Green” benefit fundraiser on Wednesday in downtown Jersey City – an event that carried more importance this year than in previous years.
The museum is open only on Saturdays for five hours, a big change from its four-day-a-week operating schedule that was slashed on April 1 due to state and private funding cuts.
The museum is the city’s major repository of art. It hosts exhibits such as the ongoing “Hair Tactics” that explores hair as subject matter and medium.
“A good art scene, the city thrives.” – Eric Silverman
They were also treated to wine, iced tea, music, and other amusements in a temporary park outdoors.
Mini-golf still open to public
The mini-golf course will also be open to the public through Sept. 6 for a fee of $5 per round, with proceeds going to the museum.
Eric Silverman said he was not sure what the $100,000 will be used for by the museum, but said he and his brother wanted to do something to help the facility.
“The arts are vital to any urban community,” Silverman said. “A good art scene, the city thrives.”
James Kobak, an attorney and Jersey City resident who serves on the museum’s board of trustees, declined to offer any specific information on how the money will benefit the museum or any future plans for the museum.
Management issues, funding cuts
The Jersey City Museum, which has been located on the corner of Montgomery and Monmouth streets since 2001, should be making headlines for its exhibits and other programs. But instead, unflattering information has hit the press about how its behind-the-scenes management may have contributed to the financial difficulties it’s facing.
Among the revelations: The museum’s previous executive director, Laurene Buckley, was fired in March after six months on the job, and some say it was because she didn’t raise enough money to run the museum. Also, the facility has lacked a full-time curator for over a year.
The museum, which operates on a $1 million-plus budget, saw a $125,000 decrease in the city’s allotment in the current city budget. It also suffered $300,000 in funding cuts from the federal government, corporations, and foundations.
But Wednesday became fun day. A temporary park near the Hamilton Square condo building on Pavonia Avenue was turned into an upscale amusement park.
Hundreds of area residents and officials – many paying a $75 ticket – showed up for the cause.
Mayor Jerramiah Healy came with his wife and some members of his administration.
“I am grateful for every one coming down here, and the Silvermans for their efforts in generating enough to keep the museum going,” said Healy in an interview.
Mattias Gustafsson, owner of the downtown Jersey City restaurant Madame Claude’s Café, manned a table, serving up wine and gourmet cheese. Gustafsson has attended the museum in the past, and thinks it should hold all types of events by local artists.
“I think they should use their beautiful auditorium for music and theater, because it is well-built,” Gustafsson said. “[The museum] could do wonderful things there.”
Younger attendees were eager to take up the challenge of the uniquely-designed mini-golf holes with such monikers as “The Long, Narrow Way to Heaven.”
Eight-year-old Isabella Levin was getting in her shots around the course, especially at her favorite hole, number 8, The Glass Ceiling, designed by local artist Nyugen Smith.
“I like it,” she explained, “because it’s cool and you put the ball in a thingy, you pull it up and then it goes somewhere else.”
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com.