We set out to make a list of the best places to create or see art in Hoboken and Jersey City. And here’s why: New Jersey has a long history of great art. In Hoboken, Hudson River School artists of the 19th century would paint scenes of the countryside. The city gave us the abstract landscapes of John Marin and later, the “action painting” of Willem de Kooning. In more recent times, murals have transformed parts of Jersey City into a canvas. For example, starting in 2015, the American street artist Shepherd Fairey, widely known for creating the 2008 Obama campaign “HOPE” poster, made two murals in the city. With a reputation of being home to incredible art, these cities have a lot to offer artists and art enthusiasts. Here’s our guide to the best places to create or see art in Hoboken and Jersey City right now.
Virtual and Studio Communities for Artists
If You Want to Network and Sell Your Art (So every artist, read this.)
Mana Contemporary, Jersey City
Yes, Andy Warhol had the factory. But Mana Contemporary is in an actual factory. It once produced tobacco and now houses a cohort of those most likely to smoke in their 20s and 30s: artists (An unverified statistic deeply informed by this writer’s dating life). The offerings to artists include studio residencies, visual arts residencies and performance residencies.
However, the Mana campus isn’t just a place to create and show your work, it can also help your career get the break you’ve wanted. As their site puts it, “Artists-in-residence receive strategic introductions to curators, collectors and other art world professionals who regularly visit the organization.”
Mana artists to know include Jean-Antione Norbert, a painter; Cydney Williams, a painter, muralist and sculptor, to name an abbreviated list of her mediums; and Bill T. Jones with the Arnie Zane Company, a singular and notable duo in dance theater.
If you’d like to visit Mana, currently in a studio residency, you can view Anne Muntges’s work. It’s an installation of multiple pieces called “The Glowing Desert”—every line is hand-drawn, merging the distinction between 2D and 3D.
If You Want to Better Your Technique
The Field Colony, Hoboken
The Field Colony, like Mana, is a few different things in one. Mainly, it is an art gallery and offers classes in painting and design. Right now, their classes are virtual and range from $29-$99. Uniquely, they offer classes on Suminagashi (sue-me-NAH-gah-she). A Japanese painting tradition where colored inks are placed in a watery suspension and then coaxed into elegant, spontaneous patterns.
They also offer private or small-group instruction with their resident artist that can be either one to two hours, costing $89 or $159, respectively.
If You Work or Want to Work in the Performing Arts
The Artist Co-op, Virtual
The Artist Co-op, called TAC, offers a large, supportive community and curated programming. Started initially as a physical meeting space, the group has now moved online permanently. Pre-COVID, it was serving 175 artist members.
A couple of things makes this organization unique. First, it brings together artists of many disciplines: actors, directors, dancers, playwrights, musicians and more. Plus, it is designed for community building through classes and skill-share sessions. For example, you can enter a digital workspace for “co-working sprints” and be online with other playwrights writing for a half-hour. Or, you can join one of their “Signature Series” discussions that cover a range of topics, including creating virtual theater. Membership costs $40 per month.
The Top New or Upcoming Art Shows for Art Enthusiasts in Hoboken and Jersey City
If You’re Looking to Explore Contemporary Art
Deep Space, Jersey City
With monthly exhibitions, this gallery keeps the Jersey City art scene fresh and exciting. Their next show, opening Friday, Oct. 2, is called “Distort.” It’s named after the celebrated Jersey City artist who will be featuring his work. He’s known for his referential street art and creating one of the largest murals in the area. It’s cast across the Mecca Trucking Company building. The show at Deep Space will include paintings and sculptures that incorporate classicism and themes of the present.
If You Want an Immersive Gallery Experience
Issyra Gallery, Hoboken
Issa Sow founded and curates this gallery. He sources traditional and contemporary work from Central and Western Africa. The pieces he sources not only adorn the walls but create a unique, visceral space. His aim, as it says on the gallery’s website, is to “promote African ‘living art’ and artists.”
There is also a workshop being offered every Thursday evening until the end of the year, titled “Inspiration Trap.” Its Eventbrite page notes: “This unique workshop… is ideal for people working in the creative arts as well as students, entrepreneurs, team managers, corporate leaders and anyone looking to implement their creative vision.”
If You’re Looking To Get Inspired
Jonathan Levine Projects, Jersey City
This gallery is focused on innovative art that isn’t afraid to articulate both high and low-brow themes, sometimes in the same work. The current exhibit, showing through Oct. 24, is by the Harlem-born Kip Omolade. The tile is “Masks: Portraits of Time Square and Luxury Graffiti.”
Kip began as a graffiti artist while interning at Marvel Comics and The Center for African Art, and then he went on to study visual art at The Art Students League of New York. To see all the pieces included in the show and hear Kip discuss each, watch the video below.
If You Want to Go to Art Oz
Jersey City Art and Studio Tour
Last on our list is JCAST. A cultural event that started in the 1990s and has brought artists and art lovers together for three decades. It consists of a four-day itinerary full of exhibitions, panels and art show tours. Similarly, this year the event runs from October 1-4. While it’s going to be virtual, the offerings aren’t any less exciting. On the weekend, the schedule includes morning and evening programming. You definitely won’t want to miss the following.
FRIDAY (In Order of Timing)
- Irene Rousseau / We Live in a World of Patterns
- Lawrence Ciarallo / The Art of Lawrence Ciarallo
- Beatrice M Mady / Mady and Cummings Studio Tour
- Panel – Pro Arts 30 Years of JCAST Q&A / JCAST at 30: a brief history
- Santiago Cohen / Santiago Cohen Studio
- NJCU Lemmerman Gallery & Visual Arts Gallery / Common Language: Dahlia Elsayed & Boundless Light: Sunil Garg
- Dvora Pop-Up Gallery / David W. Cummings and Beatrice M. Mady: Paintings. A Tour with Beatrice
Add to our list of the best places to create or see art in Hoboken and Jersey City in the comments below!