Gallery gala Artists gear up for studio tour

Though it’s still a few weeks away, Jersey City is preparing for the annual studio tour that will highlight some of the hundreds of artists who do their work in this city. The tour is co-sponsored by the Hudson Reporter newspapers.

Nearly 200 potters, painters, photographers, sculptors and found object artists, among others, will be showing the fruits of their labor on Oct. 21 and 22. Jersey City will be transformed into an art showcase, as places like the Barrow Mansion on Wayne Street, the Grace Church Van Vorst on Erie Street, and St. Lucy’s Shelter on Grove and 15th streets will be opening their doors to gallery gazers.

Some art, however, will be stranger than others.

“Pus-Knot” will be on display at Matt Schwede’s 111 First St. space. A nine foot high by 14 feet wide protein-like twist of foam and nylon made from couches he found, it’s a departure from his recent work.

“Normally I work mostly from the body,” said Schwede, whose “100 Lungs” show ran last fall in the Walden Gallery in Manhattan. He’s exhibited his work in Belgium, Germany, Tel Aviv, Poland and the Jersey City Museum.

“People think I’m trying to be a doctor,” he explained, “but it’s not really about medicine.” He said the piece is not intended to be cryptic or symbolic, though he admitted it does look like intestine.

A colossal heart is also in the works, and Schwede, 37, a crew chief at the Guggenheim, hopes to have it done in time for the tour.

A little off the beaten path, in the Lafayette section of town, Frank Bosco will be firing pottery outside his studio and art school space. He decided fairly early his vocation in life.

“It was either a fireman, a priest, or an artist,” said Bosco, who said his first grade teacher spurred his love of art. Using a 16th Century Japanese technique that results in stunning “crackled pottery,” Bosco will be holding an all-day Saturday “Raku Workshop.”

“We’re going to be doing this in the yard” of his 279 Pine St. carriage house, said Bosco. “It’s going to be very dramatic. The students will be handling their work in a way they’ve never done before.” The pottery will be fired at about 1850 degrees Fahrenheit, then will be placed in galvanized cans filled with sawdust. The burning from the pottery on the sawdust creates bright, lustrous, metallic colors ranging from blue to copper. Then, the pottery will be doused with a hose and cooled in the air. The end result is a dramatic shattered glass look.

Bosco and his students from the New York/New Jersey Academy of Ceramic Art will be displaying their work in the 100-year old space. Bosco’s work has appeared in the Phoenix Gallery in Manhattan and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

For Sara Simboli, a painter at the 111 First St. building, her work uses “the vision and craft of painters from the Renaissance period but in a modern context.”

That doesn’t mean she paints computers, per se. But she tends to paint whatever is around her.

One of her pieces, “Solitude,” an oil-on-canvas work, is the depiction of a Chinese Buddhist statue. For her, it was the mystery of the object itself that drew her to paint it. The statue, a gift from a friend, contains ancient prayer scrolls. To get to them, a person would have to break the statue open, an act of blasphemy.

The daughter of Italian immigrant artists, Simboli, is looking to paint more “visionary” work in the future.

She’ll be exhibiting her work in her space along with Keith Gunderson. Gunderson’s work is currently on display in the Rotunda Gallery in City Hall.

Then there’s Anrzej Lech, a Polish-born photographer who has chronicled the remarkable changes in Jersey City over the last decade. His work will be at the “On the Way Gallery” at 111 First St.

“Ten years ago, around the water, it was absolute empty spaces,” Lech said. “A few times a week, I’m going around my neighborhood, documenting that change.”

Lech uses a 40-year-old wisner Camera and a pinhole camera to create “mystery and an aura of nostalgia,” reminiscent of turn-of-the century European and American photography. The new cameras, he says, don’t have what he’s looking for.

The brown, sepia-colored and black and white images are remarkable with an ancient but timeless quality. It’s all part of a tour that promises to hold more surprises than ever for visitors.

The Jersey City Art Tour 2000 will be held Oct. 21 and 22 at various locations throughout the city, from 12 to 6 p.m. each day. For more information, call 610-1280, or visit


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