The New Jersey Art Fair You Didn’t Know About

Art Fair 14C returns to Jersey City for its fourth year this weekend, bringing together artists and galleries from across the Garden State as well as international and overseas creatives seeking alternatives to New York’s high entry barriers .

Located in the historic Armory building in McGinley Square and named after the Jersey City exit on the Turnpike, 14C has also become a destination for locals drawn to the prospect of community and affordability. Low-cost, subsidized booths allow emerging and low-income artists to sell alongside established commercial galleries, with a group show by New Jersey-based artists – a cat artwork fundraiser – and a stand dedicated to the work of military veterans, among other highlights.

“Wisdom” (2022) by Modupe Odusote was painted on traditional Nigerian ankara fabric.

For some recently emigrated artists, 14C is one of their first in-person events. Nigerian artist Modupe Odusote, based in Bridgewater, says she recently taught herself to paint, but she once boldly reclaimed Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (1907) for African women and swapped the canvas against traditional ankara fabric. She says the early days of the pandemic gave her the courage to do so.

“I was always afraid to try, but COVID made me a painter,” Odusote told Hyperallergic.

And for Somerset-based Indian artist Teena Soni, who has just received her US work permit, the fair is her second exhibition since arriving here. A third-generation artist, Soni transforms traditional Hindu symbolism into brilliant abstraction, working with 24-karat gold leaf and traditional pigments that she says hold on, “so they never show any signs of damage. age”.

A few stalls away, textile artist Christine Sauerteig-Pilaar focuses on the degradation of materials, turning 1960s sewing patterns into a rumination on aging. Based in Oak Ridge, Sauerteig-Pilaar says 14C provides an arts community sorely lacking in the suburbs. She points to one of her pieces showing a naked woman with guns on her body and adds that at this fair she feels free to express her political frustration without judgment.

Teena Soni and her partner Tarun Swarnkar at home Showcase stand

Art Fair 14C was founded in 2018 by gallerist Robinson Holloway while he was on the board of the Jersey City Arts Council. Since its inaugural outing in 2019, 14C has taken place at the Hyatt Regency at Exchange Place and Mana Contemporary at Journal Square, with booths costing $40 and Showcase $25 entrees. While local arts events are held across the state, 14C is the only fair of this scale and scale in all of New Jersey, and one of the few to offer residencies to selected artists for its juried exhibit. .

Several kiosks aim to preserve the legacy of recently deceased artists. Linda Street of the Pink Dragon Artist Syndicate dedicated hers to Newark artist Jerry Gant, who died in 2018. The vinyl records appear molded into expressive black faces, with the artist’s name displayed on fragments of blue milk crates . While some of Gant’s work is in the permanent collection of the Newark Museum of Art, Street claims to have only scratched the surface.

“These are just a few of the 4,000 pieces we’ve gone through,” Street told Hyperallergic. “Jerry has left us with so much amazing work, and I’m constantly coming up with new things despite working together for so long.”

Linda Street (center) with Newark-based curator Souleo and artist Beau McCall

For Jeremy Hansen, who runs the River’s Edge Gallery just south of Detroit, 14C is an opportunity to reintroduce the East Coast to late Michigan artist Jim Slack. Hansen interweaves Slack’s psychedelic paintings and sculptures with his own work. While Slack died in 2001, Hansen says his Jersey relationship deserves more attention.

“Jim’s story is quite tragic,” Hansen told Hyperallergic. “He was a disabled Vietnam veteran who came back with severe PTSD but became a peace-loving Deadhead, and he eventually died alone from an overdose. But he was from that area, so we decided that his first American show in a while should be here.

For Atlantic City-based artist Drew Griffiths, Jersey’s reputation as a producer of great artists speaks for itself. A mid-career artist working halfway between sculpture and painting, he recently relocated to the Shore after years of traveling and says 14C is an opportunity to reconnect with his roots.

“I spent years bouncing around in Spain and exhibiting in LA, but I wanted to show some love to the home state,” Griffiths told Hyperallergic. “After all, I’m a Jersey boy at heart.”

14C Art Fair at Jersey City Armory
Jim Slack’s work at the River’s Edge booth
Textile works by Christine Sauerteig-Pilaar

About Margaret L. Portillo

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