St. John’s Episcopal Church in Union City hosted its third annual Celebrate Art fundraising event from Sept. 12 to 14, in partnership with a group of families called the Family Alliance Network of North Hudson.
A portion of the proceeds were donated to a local after-school program and to a scholarship fund for the summer arts program Camp Unity for local kids.
“It is an outreach to the community here in north Hudson County, for children of families in need,” said Toni Fukuda, who was instrumental in organizing the event with her husband James. “It is a way of connecting the artists in the community with the children. That kind of mentoring is very important.”
James Fukuda said, “We try to bring a New York City-quality show to North Hudson.”
According to the Celebrate Art pamphlet, this year’s theme, “the universal language of art,” was chosen because “today, we face the dilemma of finding a common ground to establish a dialogue with our enemies” and “art helps us express thoughts and feelings that cross generational and cultural divides.”
At the opening gala reception Friday night, visitors admired paintings, drawings, sculptures, and jewelry by local artists, as well as artwork by children who participated in the summer arts program.
“I never thought I’d come into this church and see it transformed into an art gallery,” said Pauline Luton, who has been a Union City resident and church member for 85 years.
Great opportunity More than 30 artists had their work on display, and many were present to speak to guests.
“The best is that they give an opportunity for artists,” said West New York painter Demetrio Alfonso.
Also in attendance was Amado Mora, who was one of the first artists to exhibit work at the Union City Art Gallery in the municipal building on Palisade Avenue.
“We are working to support the arts,” he said.
Union City Commissioner Lucio Fernandez spoke about his pastel piece “Torment,” which depicts a demon-like character whose face expresses pain.
“Men are so obsessed with a woman’s outer beauty, so they are tormented by never finding love,” he said.
Fernandez also said that his work is not meant to be dark, but instead, to provoke thought about what really is important in life.
“I think we have a lot to be thankful for,” he said. “I want people to stop and smell the roses. I don’t want art or thought to be fast food.”
He also said that he was glad to be a part of Celebrate Art.
“I believe in what they are doing,” he said.
New York-quality Toni Fukuda said that she realized it was possible to have such a high-quality show when she discovered that more and more professional artists are living in Hudson County.
“There are so many artists and creative types moving into the area,” said her husband James.
In addition, artists from outside the community who believe in the cause participated in the weekend events.
New York City-based artist Michael Colavito works with celebrities to create art that he will sell to help support charities for individuals with multiple sclerosis or cancer. He had a variety of pieces on display, one of which he said belongs to Bill Clinton.
On Saturday, the NoHu Short Film Festival was a new addition among the Celebrate Art events, due to the growing number of local filmmakers.
On Sunday, local actors performed live theater.