There are a few surprises in life like finding a gem in your own backyard. This would be MANA Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ. You say – What? There’s ART outside of Manhattan! Yes, there is. In a recent statistical survey on a national scale, Jersey City ranked #10 as one of the Top Cities in the U.S. with the most artist population. I may work and cover the art scene in New York City but I take great pride knowing that art is quite established in my neighborhood.
Last March, Arte Fuse attended the press reception and covered it. Most of the events are done on a leisurely Sunday for this groundbreaking art center and a model venture of an integrated art enterprise. It brings together a very diverse but high caliber bunch of working artists, collectors, galleries, dealers and institutions. This centralization ensures a very well organized program of high quality and production. Luxurious space is the first thing to come to mind when visitors initially walking in are left speechless by the white cube aesthetic amped up times a hundred.
On my visit with a friend I invited from NY, we journeyed on a very bright Sunday afternoon last July 15. We came to the opening of “The Originals” on the 6th floor, the latest exhibition from the artists housed at MANA and curated by collector Eileen Kaminsky who shared that is was quite an exciting endeavor to pick one great piece from each artist. Then the challenge comes in when you put them all together to make a very well staged group exhibition. Also on view was the avian themed collective where art takes flight, “Conference of the Birds” by Cynthia Reeves Project. All the art on display was definitely high quality and museum grade. To walk through the large rooms and make your way all over the high-ceiling space was quite a treat. But the best part was the full access to visit the artist’s studios on the 4th floor where you get to interact with them and see works in progress. The café on the same floor of course provided a great break area to decompress from the overwhelming amount of art surrounding you. By talking with some of the artists, it yielded a positive consensus that MANA is very nurturing as a nucleus for creation, invaluable for interaction amongst industry peers and the luxury of having the expansive space to grow.
MANA to me is the sleeping tiger of the Art World on the East Coast. It is just biding its time but continuously building and strategizing to be solid in producing nothing but the best there is. When it’s ready to break out and roar, then ART outside of Manhattan is no longer a speculation. It will just be a cold hard fact. This amenity is not too shabby for a nice leisurely Sunday in Chill Town JC.
MANA Contemporary Art. 888 Newark Avenue. Jersey City, NJ 07306
Schedule: Monday to Friday (9 am – 5 pm) / Call: 800 – 330 – 9659
Visit their site at: http://www.manafinearts.com/
article and photos by: Oscar A. Laluyan
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Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Leila Heller Gallery, September 2014
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