Cool off with high culture

Local artists, performers featured in shows galore this summer

For many Hobokenites, summer means fleeing to the shore as fast as possible for sandcastles, sno-cones and suntan oil, but for those who stay in town, there are a wealth of activities to take in, many of them quite highbrow. This summer, residents can see three different Shakespeare plays on the waterfront, appraise fine art at a variety of galleries, and catch some of last year’s Academy Award darlings on a huge outdoor screen.

Fresh art from Hoboken and beyond

Hot summer Saturdays are the perfect time to visit Hoboken’s many art galleries. Several shows are opening soon or continuing into the summer.
The new show at hob’art co-operative gallery is an all-in-the-family affair. From June 12 through July 11, husband and wife Hoboken artists Frank and Alison Pariso are hosting a joint mixed media exhibition of their work entitled “Title.”
The Parisos share an interest in representing living creatures in their art, but they use very different styles to approach this subject matter.
Alison Pariso’s focus is on insects in their natural habitat, and her etchings seek to highlight the “incredible sophistication of insect communities that in many ways parallel human societies,” according to her artist’s statement.

“The world of Theseus is the Rat Pack and the young lovers are bobby soxers.”—Chris O’Connor
Frank Pariso’s paintings and drawings look like classical Old Master paintings but depict little that has ever been seen in real life (he calls his work “imaginative realism”). Snake-headed women, shark-toothed frogs and dinosaurs loom on his canvases, evoking epic tales through a single framed moment.
The hob’art gallery is in Room E208 of the Monroe Center for the Arts, located at 720 Monroe St. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and by appointment via telephone at (201) 683-6252. More information can be found at
There’s also still time to catch painter Judy Schmitt’s Hopper-esque Hoboken landscapes in the upper gallery of the Hoboken Historical Museum. Fourteen paintings depicting scenes from the city, which became a second home to Schmitt after her daughter moved here 15 years ago, will be displayed until July 5.
Though she lives on Cape Cod, Schmitt has been inspired by the “hidden beauty” of Hoboken’s industrial edges, which harken back to her childhood in blue collar Waterbury, Conn. On walks in Hoboken with her grandchildren, Schmitt spots stunning scenes of light playing on brownstones or tugboats in the Hudson and returns to begin her paintings in plein air before finishing them in her studio.
The Hoboken Historical Museum is located at 1300 Hudson St. inside the Shipyard building. The museum is open from 2 to 7 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday, from 1 to 5 p.m. on Fridays, and from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. Admission in $3 for non-member adults.
Schmitt’s exhibit is supported by a block grant from the State/County Partnership program for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.

Shakespeare meets the 1950s

They may not draw actors of the same caliber of fame as the Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare in the Park shows, but two free productions of Shakespeare on the Hoboken waterfront this summer will boast one of the world’s greatest backdrops, the Manhattan skyline, with the added bonus of not having to wait six hours in line for tickets.
In July and August, Mile Square Theatre (MST) will host 11 performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Frank Sinatra Park. In honor of Sinatra’s looming 100th birthday, MST will transport the randy teens of “Midsummer” from medieval Greece to 1950s Hoboken, the rough-and-tumble world of longshoremen and poodle skirts made famous by “On the Waterfront.” The Hobokenized version of the comedy was first performed by MST in 2007.
“We are thrilled to bring this production back this year, which marks Frank Sinatra’s 100 birthday,” says MST Artistic Director Chris O’Connor, who will direct the show. “The show is set during Sinatra’s heyday and is underscored with his music. The world of Theseus is the Rat Pack and the young lovers are bobby soxers.”
Thanks in part to $35,000 in grants from Hudson County and the city of Hoboken, MST was able to hire a full cast of Equity actors and actresses for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” including Matthew Lawler, seen on Netflix’s “House of Cards,” Lou Carbonneau from “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Law and Order,” and Dillon Heape from the American Conservatory Theatre.
The play will be performed on July 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, and August 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 9 at the amphitheatre in Frank Sinatra Park, located near Fourth Street and Sinatra Drive. All performances are free to the public, begin at 8 p.m., and run 90 minutes without intermission.
Meanwhile, the Hudson Shakespeare Company and the city of Hoboken will present three Elizabethan classics throughout the summer, also at the Sinatra Park amphitheater.
The first production, “Love’s Labor Lost,” will hold its final performance on Monday, June 22, followed by Christopher Marlowe’s “Arden of Faversham” on Monday, July 13 and 20 and “Hamlet” on Monday, Aug. 10.
The shows begin promptly at 7 p.m. Come early for the best seating possible, and bring a blanket or comfortable low-back chair. For more info and in case of rain, call (973) 449-7443.

Screenings in open air

Another sure crowd pleaser on the Hoboken waterfront this summer is Movies Under the Stars, the annual series of outdoor movie screenings organized by the city on the Great Lawn of Pier A Park. This year’s suite of favored films kicked off with “Ocean’s 11,” the classic heist film starring Sinatra and the Rat Pack, on June 10, and will include another well-known Sinatra vehicle, “The Manchurian Candidate,” on July 22.
The next film is “The Imitation Game” on June 24, followed by “Saving Mr. Banks” on July 8,
“Birdman” on July 15, “Big Hero 6” on July 29, the 2015 version of “Cinderella” on Aug. 5, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” on Aug. 12, and “Frozen” on Aug. 19.
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” will be preceded by a performance by Preschool of Rock at 7 p.m.
The movies begin at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays in June and July and around at 8:15 p.m. in August, unless otherwise noted. Schedules are subject to change. For the best seating, come early and bring a blanket or comfortable low-back chair. Visitors may bring a picnic, but alcohol consumption is not permitted. Assisted listening devices will be available upon request by calling 201-420-2207 with at least 3 weeks’ notice.

Carlo Davis may be reached at

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