During the height of the lockdown period, it was sometimes hard to find a human being on the Jersey City streets. There weren’t too many in works of art, either. Many of the impressive shows held in the wake of the pandemic portrayed radically depopulated places: empty corners, abandoned buildings, rock clubs minus the rockers, modern architecture as desolate as Grecian ruins. One of last year’s best shows starred an ancient feature of the built environment that has, slowly but surely, been returning to a prelapsarian state. Even good-natured exhibitions had a post-apocalyptic aura. Our local artists worried that the human race was run.
No longer. People began to creep back into the frames in late 2022, and they’ve lingered about ever since. Tonight’s Jersey City Fridays event is practically a hopping party — on canvases, anyway. After a tortured period of exile, the human figure has re-emerged from its hiding place. At the Art House Gallery (345 Marin Boulevard), Andrea McKenna is staging her latest confrontation with grief, beauty, and the impermanence of life in a show curated by the hallucinatory portraitist Lucy Rovetto. A few blocks to the east, a group of Jersey luminaries has hung a series of “slow selfies” — i.e., old-fashioned self-portraits — on the walls of the Novado Gallery (110 Morgan Street). Even Guillermo Bublik’s brilliant colored ink shapes have lately taken on an anthropomorphic vibe. He’s set them dancing at “Las Callecitas de Buenos Aires” at 157A 1st St.