Friday, November 01, 2013

Halloween Happening Party @ Victory Hall (Jersey City)

One of the pleasures of being back home is having opportunities to explore and participate in local activities and events. One of the local--very local, as in Jersey City--spaces I have begun to drop by regularly is Victory Hall DRAWING ROOMS, a contemporary art gallery for drawing, painting and print located in downtown Jersey City. Occupying a former convent, DRAWING ROOMS has ten rooms of artist exhibition spaces (the nuns' former monastic cells), as well as a small bookstore that publishes art books, and a tea shop.

They also hold exhibitions throughout the year, and in conjunction with their current exhibit, Raw Drawing, featuring an expansive take on the idea of drawing by area artists, they hosted a Halloween Happening Party, on Halloween night. James Pustorino, the Executive Director, and Anne Trauben, the Assistant Director, both artists in their own right, invited me to participate by coming to view the artwork and reading some poems, old and new, perhaps in collaboration with some of the artifacts on display.

Before I write about my participation, let me note that other participants during the evening included Senegalese artist Ibou N'doye, whose work was on display and who also paired with fellow artist Geraldine Gaines in African Djembe drumming; saxophonist Zach Herchen, the new artistic director of Jersey City’s chamber music group, Con Vivo (a not-for-profit organization that produces free concerts in the diverse neighborhoods of Jersey City), who played a few works, including a stunning piece for solo woodwind by French spectralist composer Gérard Grisey; and artist Margaret Weber, who hosted a Mask Making session; and Maggie Ens, who guided people through Halloween face-painting.

I was drawn to the work of a number of the artists, including Gaines and N'doye, but I especially liked Anne Trauben's wire sculpture-drawings and 2 dimensional drawings, which I immediately felt were in conversation with Chris Stackhouse's "Perpendicular Series" drawings (some of which appeared in Seismosis), and with other works of visual abstraction, so I drafted two short (haiku-like) poems in conversation with them, read a few from Seismosis that I also thought were appropriate, and then ended with one of my favorite personal art poems, "How to Draw a Bunny," invoking two artists, passed and still with us, I deeply admire. One highlight was the presence of a reporter/photographer, Alyssa Ki, from our local paper/website, The Jersey Journal/, who wrote up and took some great photos of the event. Attendees were urged to be creative in their costumes, so I came as a visual abstraction--or conceptual performance of--a pumpkin (cf. below). All in all it was a fun evening, and look forward to more projects at and I hope with DRAWING ROOMS.

Me reading, Anne Trauben
and Zach Herchen at right
 (© Alyssa Ki/The Jersey Journal)

Anne Trauben's "Wire 2: Untitled Wire"
(wire sculpture)

Wire 1: Puff 

 after Anne Trauben's sculptural drawings

entering the cloud
of wire, silently drawing
the breath of space

Drawing 2: 19 x 24, Untitled

 after Anne Trauben's sculptural drawings

figure negation:
white on black, back as foreground,
time's shadow, outline

"Wire 1: Puff" and "Drawing 2: 19 x 4, Untitled",
Copyright © John Keene, 2013. All rights reserved.

Anne Trauben's "Drawing 2: 19 x 24" Untitled
(ink on acrylic gesso) 
Me, before the reading
(Alyssa Ki/The Jersey Journal)
Some of the revelers, with Geraldine Gaines
and Ibou N'doye at center

Geraldine Gaines playing
the African Djembe drum

Zach Herchen playing the
piece by Gérard Grisey
Drawings by Greg Brickey

Artists making and trying on masks
Ibou N'doye

Revelers taking in the drawings

In the hallway (someone
is channeling René Magritte,
I think)
Mixed-media works by Jill Scipione
A drawing by Elizabeth Onorato
Drawings by Nguyen E. Smith

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