Sunday, March 8, 2009

JC Fridays is not about art

I try to make it out to just about every JC Friday (spirit of community!), and though I love the idea of people going to local establishments to see or listen to the work of resident artists, I just have to say--JC Fridays is not about art.

Restaurants and bars open up their spaces to artists not because they're feeling altruistic, but because special events are a great way to pack a room on an otherwise normal night. They're out to make a buck, and hey, I don't think anything's wrong with that. But what I do take issue with is the uneven display and treatment artists' work gets from venue to venue because of apparent disinterest. I could barely even see the paintings on display at Hard Grove: they were squashed across from the bar, hung over a curtain, and stuck so high up that I kept running into people trying to get a good look (I never really did). Other venues are often guilty of the same transgression, which just isn't respectful to the artists showing work in the space, nor to the people who have come to see them. It is a trade after all, and these businesses wouldn't have been advertised citywide (and in that handy JC Fridays brochure!) had they not had artwork to show.

So if you're an artist who's interested in bringing work out for JC Fridays, take some control over how your art is hung and where you can put your statement; and if you're a participating business, don't forget that without these artists and their work you wouldn't have sold all that extra booze.

Props to the Stockinette and LITM for consistent, courteous display of artworks and artist info, and to 58, Arthouse, and the JC museum (via some condos because they don't have the money to keep the museum open at night??) for representing the more artistic side of these Fridays.


Charles Kessler said...

Right on! An artist cannot always control how their work is shown but to the extent they can it's important to do so. One of the great lessons of Duchamp is the context of the work effects the meaning.

Anonymous said...

i hear you.

Anonymous said...

I think you make an important statement here:

"if you're an artist who's interested in bringing work out for JC Fridays, take some control over how your art is hung and where you can put your statement."

And yes, businesses participate in JC Fridays for promotion -- and so do artists and arts organizations. JC Fridays is a way of getting the community out into these places, to increase artists’ visibility, as well as arts venues and businesses. It's a sampling of all the arts that Jersey City has to offer. So I'm not sure why "JC Fridays is not about art" -- I'd love to discuss this with you in greater detail, as Art House is committed to improving JC Fridays to make it a good experience for everyone. We are a volunteer-run organization and we work hard to promote the arts in Jersey City because we're passionate about doing so -- and we do the best we can with the resources we have.

That said, we cannot supervise the hanging of artwork at every venue, which is why educating artists and businesses becomes a priority.

I commend the businesses that want to support the arts. It's a big learning curve for them, which is why this kind of feedback is so important. They have walls that could display local artwork and want to get involved. So let's work together to improve the way the work is shown.

I'd also like to add that all feedback I stumble across, or is forwarded to me, from the various blogs and message boards gets taken into consideration. I appreciate the feedback and welcome your thoughts. If you would like to share your ideas about JC Fridays, please email and consider getting involved as a volunteer. Only by working together can we make a positive impact on the arts scene in Jersey City and help it grow.

Irene Borngraeber said...

Hey ArtHouse! Thanks so much for posting. I don't think that you or arthouse can or should take responsibility for the way work is displayed during JC Fridays. It is a huge undertaking that involves working with businesses at many different levels, and yes, there is definitely a learning curve for those involved (I was a bit harsh on business-owners). I really think it is ultimately the artist's responsibility to insure that their work is properly displayed and to take ownership of what is presented during JC Fridays, but so often this part of a show gets pawned off on the managers of a venue who may or may not have the knowledge they need to present art well. In this respect, artists need to step up. To be a truer title, this post should have been called "JC Fridays is sometimes about art". Sometimes the art really is the main attraction, but sometimes it seems to take a back-burner to dinner specials.

Manuel Macarrulla said...

I'm so glad to see this lively debate going on here. I hear Ms. or Mr. Art House listening, and being constructive -- hopefully the two sides can give and take, and achieve together. When I'm at a restaurant it does add something to my restaurant experience when I feel the art (or the decorations) have some intelligence and integrity, even if it's not a place that purports to showcase the arts. So, in the most positive light, what J. C. Fridays tries to do is quite important. I wish more restaurants tried to show good work.

jeffrey villanueva said...

hey there, well it was upsetting to see the hard grove's name in this blog because im this friday's (tomorrow) show lol. i even if the venue is not the best suited i hope you guys can still come to my showing, my name is jeffrey v and the show is "funny the way it is"