January 09, 2019
A pioneering force in the New Jersey arts scene, Art House Productions is a highly active non-profit performing and visual arts organization based in JC. It aims to make art accessible to all, doing so through a robust calendar of theater, festivals, events and exhibitions. Recently, Mack-Cali engaged the organization to create two panoramic photographic murals for the new lobbies in Harborside 2 and 3. The project was overseen by Art House executive director Meredith Burns.
When Meredith and Art House Curator Andrea McKenna first met with Michael J. DeMarco, chief executive officer, and Manuel Garcia, senior vice president of architectural services, they were thrilled to hear that Mack-Cali wanted a Jersey City-based photographer to take on the project.
“One of the first artists we thought of was Joe Velez. Joe is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Jersey City. We knew he’d be able to photograph the Pulaski Skyway differently than someone who is not from this area who might not see the beauty in the structure. He was able to find a few interesting spots from which to photograph the Pulaski that a non-local would not be privy to.”
Doing so took hours of research, says Joe, along with the technical considerations that came with creating a piece that measured 8 by 80 feet.
“I had to explore areas of Jersey City that I may not have otherwise to find the most effective and dramatic vantage points. It was important for me to tie in my feelings for Jersey City in to these two images. The Pulaski Skyway is one of the peripheral backdrops to my childhood memories.”
So too is the local artistic community.
“Jersey City has always been a place filled with sincere and talented artists,” he says. “On a personal level, the city has certainly shaped the events and circumstances of my life.”
Thanks to organizations like Art House, there are ever-expanding opportunities for local artists to create and display their work. Launched in 2001 as a response to the events of September 11, 2001, Art House has provided a space for artists and community members to heal and connect through the power of creative expression.
Art House now presents a full season of multidisciplinary arts events serving diverse populations in Hudson County and northern New Jersey. In 2007, it became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and was presented with the Key to the City by Jersey City for its work in pioneering artistic programming, as well as modeling what the arts can contribute to evolving urban centers.
Art House is located in the Cast Iron Lofts directly below the David Bowie mural, and rents its space out for corporate events, holiday parties, galas, performances, showers and more. It regularly collaborates with artists like Joe Velez to create new and relevant works with local appeal. More of these installations may soon be making their way to Harborside JC.
“The photographic murals created by Joe Velez do a remarkable job of capturing a local landmark, showcasing it with crisp details and a dynamism that invite multiple viewings,” says Michael J. DeMarco, chief executive officer of Mack-Cali.