After braving the long winter, Hoboken-based artists are enjoying a change of scenery in more ways than one. On Saturday, April 18, local painter and printmaker Ricardo Roig opens the first new artist-owned gallery in Hoboken since 2011, relocating his finished artworks from his Harrison Street studio to a well trafficked-storefront on First Street.
The Stevens Institute of Technology Visual Arts & Technology program senior exhibition also made a move this year, departing the hallways of the Stevens campus for one of Hoboken’s most established galleries for the first time ever. The exhibition of seven senior capstone art projects will run until April 23 at Barsky Gallery in Hoboken before migrating back to Castle Point in time for Stevens’ annual Innovation Expo on April 29.
Both new shows represent a chance at escape — for Roig, an escape from the confines of a remote studio, and for the Stevens students, an escape from the closed system that is a college campus.
Who’s on first?
For years, Ricardo Roig has dreamed of opening his own gallery in Hoboken. While he loves and continues to work at his studio in the Chambord Place complex, Roig said it is less than ideal for displaying artwork.
“I love families, and they want to bring their grandparents and grandmothers, but they can’t go up two flights of stairs,” said Roig, “I love kids but we can’t bring the strollers up and down.”
The new centrally-located ground floor space will also allow Roig to be closer to the small community of local patrons with whom he has built relationships and the larger community of residents who have never encountered his work. “A lot of my collectors live above, around the corner, across the street, and I get to see them more often,” said Roig.
When he first came to Hoboken in 2007, Roig showed his work at Barsky Gallery, which lies below his current studio. When the show was over, gallery owner Al Barksy told him, “your art needs foot traffic.”
“If you have something to share with the world, don’t keep it behind closed doors.”—Ricardo Roig
By contrast, the stretch of First Street where Roig’s storefront now stands is traveled by thousands of Southwest Hobokenites returning home from the PATH station each workday.
Roig hopes his new place in the public eye will lead to growing business, or at the very least will brighten people’s day with a snippet of art.
With just a studio, “I don’t have that window, I have walls and brick and mortar,” said Roig. “If you have something to share with the world, don’t keep it behind closed doors.”
It has been a banner week for Roig. On Wednesday, April 15, an exhibition of his work inaugurated the Gallery at Garden Street Lofts, a new artist showcase in the lobby of the Bijou Properties condo building at Fourteenth and Garden streets.
The gallery will feature a different local artist every four months, each time kicked off with an opening reception open to the local community.
Until August, the Garden Street Lofts show will feature Roig’s collection of limited-run screen prints depicting his favorites place in Hoboken, which is also featured at his own gallery.
The Mile Square series evokes the Belle Époque elegance of Hoboken’s rambles and rowhouses — if you squint, Columbus Park is almost the Jardin du Luxembourg — while Roig’s chosen medium enforces the scintillating edges and cartoonish verve of Andy Warhol and Henri Matisse.
The result is a modern and mature style that has earned Roig many fans among Hoboken’s art collectors. In just the three weeks since his gallery had its soft opening, Roig said he had sold 10 pieces and has several more buyers waiting for their chance.
Roig Gallery is open by appointment only, while Roig works as a public school art teacher in Westfield. But he hopes to establish public hours on the weekends and expand them during his summer break.
The gallery will hold its grand opening on Saturday, April 18 from 7 to 10 p.m. It is located at 252 First St.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that Stevens Institute of Technology has an art department—Barsky Gallery owner Al Barsky didn’t find out until shortly before he first met Jeff Thompson, the director of the Stevens Visual Arts & Technology program.
In fact, the program, which grants Bachelor of Arts degrees within Stevens’ College of Arts and Letters, boasts a groundbreaking commitment to combining the inventiveness inherent in both fine art and the engineering Stevens is known for. Every capstone project on display at Barsky Gallery involves the use of some form of technology, and some required intense computer programming and knowledge of circuits.
Once Barsky learned about the annual senior exhibition from Thompson, he offered to host it temporarily, allowing many of the students their first taste of a full gallery show.
“I think this is really where [the senior exhibition] should be,” said Thompson. “This is where they’ll be showing their work after they get out of school, so we’re happy to be there now.”
Each Visual Arts senior has been working on his or her capstone project for at least eight months. In addition to the final product, the students are required to write a 10-page thesis explaining their work and its historical forebears (visitors will not be required to read them).
The artworks run the gamut from a line of plush toys to a documentary film to a collection of emotional acrylic paintings. The items on display will be for sale if the artists desire.
Julian Chaves’ senior project is an immersive exhibit that begins with a beat.
The “generative music installation” is designed to respond to the unique heart rate of each person who engages with it. The observer’s pulse is recorded on a sensor, then converted into a unique musical beat and geometric flashes of light on a heart-shaped sculpture.
“Through the process of this, the reoccurring theme that kept coming back to me was this idea of self-awareness,” said Chaves. “If you walk up to this very calm, it’s going to be a much different experience then someone who is very nervous or agitated.”
“I want the viewer to change from the role of the viewer into the role of the creator of this piece,” he added.
Barsky Gallery is located at 49 Harrison St., in the first floor of the Chambord Place building, and opens from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday. The Visual Arts & Technology Senior Exhibition will run until April 23.
Carlo Davis may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.