Since I started blogging, I’ve become more and more enamored with the arts culture in Jersey City by covering JC Fridays, art openings, shows and events. Art House Productions is a non profit organization that is behind many Jersey City cultural events like the Snowball happening this Saturday night!! They’ve brought the community together on so many occasions. Art House is the home away from home for many artists here in Jersey City.

I recently took Mia (mini chicpea) to check out Rockasorri, a local band that plays super fun live music for children… this concert geared towards toddlers and their parents happens once a month during the winter. I highly recommend it! Mia was dancing up a storm and I was rocking to the beat, they even played a Bob Marley song!!

This weekend is the Snowball, which since I came out to the scene (I know, I know, out of nowhere) people told me that this is THE event of the year. I wanted to find out more so I hit up “boss woman” of Art House Productions, mom of Mia’s future hubby, and amazingly talented human being Christine Goodman, to give me a tour of their new space and give me the inside scoop on Art House and the Snowball.

What should I wear though?!!?! #fashionista problems.
Let’s start from the beginning. What do you do? I am the Founder and Executive Director of Art House.

How did you found Art House? I was an actress auditioning and trying to find my way living in Downtown Jersey City when 9/11 happened… I looked around and realized that even though I knew there were a lot of artists that lived in Jersey City there wasn’t any sort of ongoing event scene to bring people together. There was no way of connecting with like-minded people. I felt really isolated and really wanted to meet my neighbors, so I knocked on doors and tried to convince people “Hey, I’m not crazy, I just want to have a poetry reading…” I looked around until I found a space that let us do poetry readings. That first event was at the end of September 2001, and after that we started ongoing events in 2002. Those were pretty much open mics for a long time. It moved from there to Victory Hall in Paulus Hook where we were for many years and we started producing theatre, and then we started doing JC Fridays.

How did JC Fridays start? JC Fridays was founded by a group of artists and arts friendly businesses… the idea came out of JC Fridays and we took the reigns. In 2006 we moved to a space in Hamilton Park and it was our own space. That is when our programming really took off and we started doing a lot more in terms of education and got more serious about developing original plays…. everything else followed.
JC Fridays is so fun! How do you go about organizing that? People submit their events and we do the overall promotion. My focus is about getting the word out that it is happening… the other cool thing about JC Fridays, it introduces people to places they might not have known about… our hope is that you walk into a place, you buy art or you have dinner next door…

I love JC Fridays. The next one is March 6th!

Can you tell me more about the events you have here? the different programs? We are multi-arts, so we have the art gallery in the front of our space. The back we have a black box theatre… the theatre produces a range of events. At the heart of it, we are a theatre, we work on professional, original plays. We also have a youth program where our young actors work for an entire semester and produce a full-scale musical. Those musicals are usually the standard classics.

We have a modern dance festival called “Your Move”…. we do film screenings…. we have a comedy series with major headliners that happens every month which is called “The Laugh Tour”. We have acting and dance classes…

And you manage this all by yourself? Well we have a team of volunteers, I am the only full-time staff member and I am really looking to move forward in terms of how we exist… looking to move forward as an organization and being able to sustain our programming internally and that is a growth process for us. Certainly being here now in this large space, it’s very active, we really depend on volunteers. We have a great team! In addition to volunteers, Lance Michel, he is our Technical Director and Lighting Designer and Shimeon Nandlal is our Theatre Manager. The two of them along with our team of volunteers keeps this place going.

It’s great that you have such a great team. How do you manage everything? Being a mom and running Art House? That’s the million dollar question! My husband is an amazing partner and father so it really is a team effort. My son feels really at home here at Art House… he was with me full-time for the first 10 months of his life. When he comes here he knows where his toy cars are, and he will rope anyone in to play with him. We are always thinking, and looking to move forward in terms of how we exist….looking to move forward as an organization and being able to bring on more staff.
What are your future plans for Art House? I would like us to produce more theatre now that we have this lovely space. It’s full of opportunities to bring in guest companies… really building some new and exciting collaborations and the developing of new theatre. Hoping to do more festivals as well.

Can you give me a tour? Sure!
This is our gallery. We have rotating exhibitions… about every two months we have a new show…. We have a fabulous new curatorial team: Raymond Mingst and Arthur Bruso, they are the talented duo behind the Curious Matter Gallery. They are longtime friends.

Yes! I’ve met them, one of them has a really amazing mustache. Yes! Great style. They’ve been longtime friends, they curated the first exhibit in this space for the Jersey City Artist Studio Tour and it went well… Our visions meshed so well, we decided to make it a more long-term thing… They will be bringing a show in here in April. In February, we are going to have the Brazilian/Jersey City artist Duda Penteado who will be bringing this space to life with a show called “Constructive Interference” It’s essentially a show with large format pieces where he partnered up with a photographer to create paintings inside of photographs. It’s about adding another layer, how we see the world around us and how we can see it through a different lens once art is incorporated.

Right now our walls our blank because this is going to be the silent auction area and press area for the Snowball.

Tell me a little bit more about Snow Ball…. This is our 9th Annual Snow Ball. It’s our big Gala and the most important fundraiser we do all year. It helps us raise money for the important stuff like keeping the lights on and doors open. We started the Snow Ball when we were creating a play many years ago and decided we needed to fundraise for the play. Over the years it became more and more important as an overall fundraiser.

The Snow Ball is a really fun night where people get dressed up. It’s black tie creative, and everyone comes out to celebrate the arts. What is really remarkable about this event is how colorful and fun and light it is and it draws so many different people in one room all around the cause of supporting our organization. That’s a beautiful thing to see. The Mayor usually gives a speech on the importance of the arts in Jersey City… it’s great to see artists in full-on costumes. It’s great to connect with long time supporters and people who don’t know who we are at all and just hear about us being a fun party. That’s a nice introduction into Art House as well.

For our ticket we have food and open bar. Our restaurant supporters and major sponsors are City Diner, they are platinum sponsors… there will be food provided from our other sponsors LITM, Porto, GP’s and The Hamilton Inn.
Wow that’s a lot of food! Our major beer sponsor is NJ Beer Co and Cool Vines is our major wine donors. We have desert from Cholita’s and Jaes Cakez.

In addition we have a silent auction where we are going to have art, gift certificates to the great restaurants in the area, we have a 5 day getaway to a beautiful condo in Virginia with a beautiful lake…
The Rebeca Vallejo Trio will be performing live music through the night and DJ George Soul will kick off the dance party!
Of course we have our best dressed contest where everyone will be able to work it, and we will have anonymous judges. Then the passing of the torch. Vincent Minervini who won last year, he will be passing off his award to the next person.

I don’t know what to wear!! Can I just wear a fabulous dress? Absolutely.

So basically don’t wear jeans… unless they are decked out with rhinestone… Exactly. We have people who wear vintage, their old wedding dresses… I’ve even seen a gorilla wear angel wings. Steve Fulop, our mayor hasn’t worn a costume yet but maybe this will his year.

I can’t wait to see, haha.

What was this space before? It was a Verizon building. Before that it was Bell Atlantic… The KRE Group who are developing the Journal Squared (J2) development in Journal Square, they’ve opened their doors here… that is why we are honoring them here at the Snow Ball, they made it possible for us. We re-imagined the building and turned it into an arts facility.

Here is our costume closet.

OMG yes…. I love it!!

This was organized by one of our volunteers. Everyone works so hard here to keep this going. We have a fantastic volunteer Pat Christodulidis, who came and organized all this.

Do you have a favorite Jersey City hangout spot? My house!

Eat, Drink or hangout, other than your house? There are so many places that I love, and so many places that have done so much for us over the years. One of the cool things about running JC Fridays is we get to meet a lot of the new business’s that are coming in and understand and get that this is a place that is excited about art so they want to get involved with JC Fridays…

Anything else you want people to know about you or art house? I would love for people to come to the Snowball on Jan 24th. If people are looking for a place to volunteer, we have a lot of different opportunities here..

How do you feel about the artist community in Jersey City and it’s growth? It’s very exciting, it’s great to see how far we’ve come. Art House is now in its 14th season, we’ve seen a lot of change over the years and it’s really nice to see people digging in roots. For a long time there was a transient nature to this city, people passing through on their way to their next spots. So to have these institutions around us that are making a commitment for the long-term, they are doing serious professional work that’s astounding and inspiring… that makes me want to come to work every day. I love being a part of it, and love seeing what’s happening now and I can’t wait to see what’s coming out next.

www.arthouseproductions.org

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