Friday, January 29, 2010

I start hearing about Gallery U in all the right circles.  The soon to be contemporary art space in the upscale neighborhood of Montclair NJ was first mentioned to me at Art Basel, I heard it about it again during a recent show on the lower east side, my third time was at a fundraiser in Far Hills. 
Montclair has a long history as a creative artist’s community. It was once the playground for legends Gloria Swanson, Helen Hayes, Bette Davis, Ed Asner and Telly Savalas. It is repeatedly referred to by the New York Times as the "Upper West Side" of the suburbs.Many of the residents work at the New York Times or Wall Street. Montclair's expensive homes and amazing diversity has been home to Olympia Dukakis (who ran the local community theater) , Make-up Mogul Bobbi Brown (who graces the town with her studio) , Yogi Berra (has his own museum at MSU) , Christina Ricci, Stephen Colbert, Roscoe Orman, Joe Morton, Kal Penn (think Harold and Kumar), Kim Zimmer, and more.
Montclair also boasts many of New Jersey’s best Restaurants with celebrity chefs including Ariane Duarte and Michael Carrino as well as some high end boutiques and the newly remodeled Wellmont Theater.  The Claridge Cinema still boasts the same art house and independent showings as the Angelica. Montclair also boasts the beautiful Montclair Art Museum, established in 1914 it showcases one of the largest collections of American Art and American Native Art.  The permanent collection includes Willem de Kooning, Warhol, Pearlstein, Pollock, Whistler, Segal, Nevelson, Man Ray, Hopper, Stella and Calder to name a few.
It is no surprise that Gallery U chose this colorful community to set up shop and deliver the most impressive contemporary collection. 
When I walked in i was immediately taken by the open airy space, with its rustic wood floors, white walls and exposed brick.  The artwork seems to magically appear as each piece is carefully displayed and perfectly curated.  It is a combination of international emerging artists in every medium.  I arrived in time to see the setup of Suburbia-land, a self examination of Suburban life and each artists own interpretation of the concept.  I was struck by a collaborative, all white piece made from found objects presented in a large white shadow box followed by a very urban stencil sprayed piece by local artist Joe Iruto of a man scaling a building in vibrant blues and rich blacks.  A wall sculpture by Robert Greco (who I learned is the Gallery Director and show curator) combined vintage wooden weights, found brass objects and a torn up Hermes bag / vintage Matsuda suspenders, tres chic.  The pieces that really drew me in, were New York Artist, Photographer and Journalist Geraldine Visco whose Urban Life research led he to the historic society of Levittown NY.  Geraldine then photographed herself and some other colorful characters in the Levittown museum - (think club kids meet Cindy Sherman).  One piece after the other seemed to pop out and present with such vigor, the kind of excitement and energy that hasn't bee seen in New York since the start of the recession.  Gallery U is destined for great success.  Judging from the turnout of New Jersey’s most interesting people on a cold January night, and watching Robert Greco maneuver around the room discreetly placing those red dots, i can assure you that Gallery U has begun to make a very important contribution to the next wave of emerging art.

Alex Anderson,
American and European Contemporary Art

1 comment:

  1. I was there !