You’ve heard the talk. Maybe you’ve seen the big banner on Newark Avenue. We’re only days from the kickoff of the first Jersey City Art Week — an unprecedented attempt to hold the annual Studio Tour and Art Fair 14C at the same time. The Fair opens its doors at the Central Railroad Terminal at Liberty State Park on Thursday, October 12 and keeps the party going until Sunday; JCAST, not superstitious at all, launches on Friday the 13th. While all that is going on, MANA Contemporary will host an open house on Sunday the 15th, and the International Sculpture Center will hold its conference in Jersey City. It’s a local event of impressive scale and ambition, and we intend to cover all of it.
But you’d be forgiven for thinking that Art Week had already begun. There’s already excellent work on view all over Jersey City: some shows opening, some shows closing, curators and creators getting ready for the biggest month of the year. Before we turn our attention to the citywide extravaganza that’s about to unfold, let’s pause for a second and acknowledge what we’ve currently got — including the reopening of a gorgeous installation that blew my mind last year.
Disintegration @ Art House Productions
Much like “Disaster Place,” the art of Andrea McKenna feels like an expression of the pandemic mood: that combination of bewilderment, resignation, and hope that Jersey City people learned all too well. McKenna’s paints characters in transition, drifting out of existence or occluded by circumstance, losing their grips in the midst of the the storm. In “Disintegration,” she paints directly onto porous burlap, including sheets that are torn, burned, and adorned by melted metal. The bodies of her subjects are often faded, distant, and hard to make out, but the eyes are always fiercely present. Her color palette — institution greens, rust reds, pale whites, and the brown of rich topsoil — isn’t merely meant to be ghostly. It’s also an allusion to the Garden State post-industrial landscape, and our shared remembrance of life as it once was. “Disintegration” closes this weekend just as “Disaster Place” opens. One way or another, we’ll keep this difficult conversation going. (Art House Gallery, 345 Marin Blvd.; Sep 29-30, 1-4 p.m.; IG: @arthouseproductions, visit www.arthouseproductions.com.)