Dear Art House Community,
Javiera Rodriguez, a beloved friend of Art House, passed away late Wednesday night from complications due to COVID-19. Javi (as her friends called her) was part of the tight-knit group of designers who volunteered for the Snow Ball gala year after year, working alongside lead designer and Art House gallery director, Andrea McKenna. Javi and Andrea were best friends and together they ran The Raven Gallery, a hub for artists in the Jersey City community on Newark Avenue from 2014-2017. Since taking over the Art House Gallery in 2018, Andrea has curated 15 art exhibitions and Javi was at every opening.
Javi was a jewelry designer who made gorgeous, sculptural, statement pieces that mixed antique and goth elements. I once said out loud to a group that Javi's work reminded me of the famous jewelry designer Alexis Bittar and I was rightly corrected that, "Alexis Bittar wishes he was half as talented as Javiera Rodriguez." I loved her work, so much so that I commissioned her to make both of my head pieces and the head pieces of the raffle volunteers for the most recent Snow Ball galas. In 2019, she made our rafflers these huge, bejeweled antlers for our "13" theme, and last year, she made these ingenious, light up headbands based on all four of the main characters from the Wizard of Oz. The picture above is from this past Snow Ball and shows Javi dressed up in a costume she designed and made herself. She came as both Emerald City and the Yellow Brick Road.
Outside of her life as an artist, Javi was a social worker in North Bergen serving as the Child Study Team case manager for 10 years in the Becton Regional High School district. In an article on Northjersey.com, superintendent Dario Sforza called Javi a "relentless advocate for special needs students" and a “dear colleague, friend, sister, and champion for students.”
Given who she was and the work she did, I once asked Javi for advice on what to say to someone who just lost a loved one. She told me, "There is nothing you can say that will make that person feel better. All you can do is give them a hug and tell them that you're there if they need you." Losing Javi is a tragic and terrible loss for her loved ones, all of us here at Art House, and for the Hudson County communities she was part of, but it feels especially cruel to not be able to hug the folks who knew and loved her right now.
Please join me in sending Andrea, her partner, her family, colleagues, and the many students she served, a huge virtual hug. Javi will be deeply missed and when the time is right, we will hug in person and celebrate the life of this compassionate, creative, and vibrant soul.
Meredith & the Art House Board & Staff
We invite you to share your favorite memories of Javi below.