WHEN: opens July 27, 5:00pm – 8:00pm and runs through September 10. The gallery is open on Tuesday nights, 4:00pm to 6:00pm, Sunday afternoons from noon to 3pm, and by appointment. For more information please visit jerseycityartscouncil.org. Light refreshments will be served and attendees will have a chance to meet the artist.
WHERE: JCAC Gallery at ShuaSpace, 340 Summit Avenue, Jersey City
Structural Landscapes is a gallery show of two firsts.
It is the first solo slow by Gregg Rosen, a Jersey City-based artist and art educator.
Structural Landscapes is also the first gallery show to be presented by the Jersey City Arts Council (JCAC)—a nonprofit arts organization whose mission is to be an advocate and ambassador for the arts and artists in Jersey City—at its new headquarters and art gallery.
Structural Landscapes showcases a body of work Rosen started in 2003 with Structural Landscape #1, when he first seriously combined abstract motifs with realism. “I wanted the composition of the painting to be organic, to invite the viewer into the art as opposed to telling the viewer what to think or feel,” he said.
Rosen, who grew up in Long Island, earned a BFA for the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1992. He mainly worked in figurative formats after graduation, but also embarked on an intensive, decade-long study of modern art movements and artists, including reading hundreds texts, including art histories, critical analysis and artist biographies as well as frequent museum and gallery visitations. Gradually, geometric images and visual abstractions appeared in his work and he finally created Structural Landscape #1. Through the years, completed 46 Structural Landscape paintings, working with oil on canvas or wood. Last year, both an end and a new beginning was apparent when he completed Post-Structural Landscape #1, using what he describes as a more “gestural and tactile brushwork,” pushing the shapes and colors to their more natural conclusion, resulting in imagery that is less geometric, but more spontaneous.
“I’m glad viewers will have the opportunity to see this phase of my work as one collection,” said Rosen. “What my work shows is how abstraction and realism are not opposites in art, in fact they are both actually necessary and compatible. They are not separate, but coexist and feed off each other.”
On view at the JCAC Gallery at ShuaSpace are 22 pieces—nearly half—of the entire Structural Landscapes series – the exhibition is bookended by the Structural Landscape #1 and Post-Structural Landscape #1. This thematic cluster of paintings has a cumulative effect of revealing the unique dichotomy of Rosen’s vision, whose process often requires using multiple layers of paint – and even masking tape – to create an emotional dialogue between curves and lines, juxtaposing naturalistic images with geometric shapes. Rosen’s playful approach to form draws viewers in, shifting shadow and light within his distinctive palette, an effect he achieves by layering multiple color tones. “For some of the paintings I’ve done as many as 30 layers of painting to get the color I was looking for,” he said.
Several Structural Landscapes pieces have already been sold and are part of both national and international private collections. Rosen’s work has also been featured in numerous group shows, including Metro31 Redux City Without Walls, Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) Borderless Art Show; SMI 17th Annual Open Exhibition (juried by Sue Scott) at Aljira Center for Contemporary Art; July 2013 Earth Show (curated by Jill Connor) 440 Gallery, Brooklyn; Abstract Expressionism in a Postmodern Times/ S.H.E. gallery, Boonton, N.J.; 32nd Annual NYU Small Works Exhibition.
Rosen also works as an Arts Instructor, teaching adult art classes for the Jersey City Department of Recreation and adult & children’s classes at the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center, Jersey City.
ShuaSpace, founded in 2012 by Shua Dance Group, is located in the Journal Square neighborhood, and also serves as the new home for the JCAC. While it’s certainly fitting for an arts advocacy organization to be headquartered in a building owned by a leading arts group, it was obvious to the JCAC board of trustees that the walls – and museum-quality track lighting – should not be under-utilized.
“We are advocates for the arts and for artists in the community, and we realized that one way to further that mission, as well as fully use this remarkable space, is to also show artists here,” said Alvin Pettit, JCAC Board Member, Jersey City-based artist & sculptor, and director of the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center. “The primary objective was to have a home where the community could come and connect with the council, but if we can use the walls and double-up as a gallery, that all is for the better. We’re proud to have Gregg Rosen, a long-time Jersey City resident and well-respected artist to inaugurate our gallery space. We will be looking at other solo shows and group shows to showcase the amazing work of Jersey City artists in the near future.”
Photo by Thom Leavy