Friday, July 30, 2010

A "Midsummer Night" at Gallery U
Andrea Carrol, Art Advance Review
June 30, 2010

A Midsummer night marks another tremendous success for the crew at Gallery U.  The entire event involved wall to wall people, live music, fantastic food and of course the perfect selection of art.  I arrived at the Gallery just after 7:30 and was surprised by the number of people lining Glenridge ave, the event appeared to taken over the South of Church Street Area with well over 150 people in attendance.  On a typical night, it would be Church St. that would be a buzz with people, but not this night.  Gallery U holds the secret recipe for success.  Teaming up with local record company, Atlas records (Christopher Stillmank) only added to the party filled atmosphere and added a young, creative energy that has never happened in hip Montclair.  First up was "Moniker" who's electric ambient and soothing sounds brought in the element of performance seamlessly.  It was the perfect backdrop to showcase the works curated by Robert Greco, Amalia Grannis and Alex Christian.  I was told that Amalia is a recent Montclair High School grad and Alex is a recent Montclair State grad, which only added to the freshness, excitement and innovation.  Once again the combination of photography, paintings and sculpture was balanced to perfection.  Not a dull piece to be found.  The "piece de resistance" had to be the full size decorated mannequin, adorned with pearls, mirrors and everything else imaginable, not to mention angel wings; which stood in the center parlor commanding your attention. Other pieces worth mentioning were a series of masks by co-curator Alex Christian.  Two sets of three perfectly aligned, each more interesting than the other.  A striking portrait by Gerry Visco in the front window also grabbed my attention as did a multimedia digital piece front and center.  I had the privilege of meeting the artist, a disabled woman, Ellen who created the piece via Arts Access, a program through Matheny. The second band came on and filled the room with beats and vocals as more people poured in the Gallery.  I very much enjoyed seeing the new pieces by New York City Artist,  Gio Black Peter whose whimsical and colorful images truly define contemporary art in America.  
By the time the third band began, moving room was scarce, almost making it difficult to see the rest of the show (I'll need to go back during the week) to identify some of the artwork through the french doors.   The far back workshop was transformed into a swinging happening lounge where more excitement was going on, the movers and shakers, the artists and owners.  
Back in the front, the third band was wrapping it up but the crowd did not thin out.  There were two painted portraits on the brick wall by artist Inbred Hybrid Collective that really stood out, I am not sure if it was by one person or a collective, directly across the room was another collective piece by the clients of Universal Institute which was stunning. Some more photography by Robert Langdon, Robert Ordonez, Walt Cessna and a few others made the space come alive.   You do not see this kind of energy, excitement and endurance from any other galleries in NJ.  Despite the heat, which people appeared to just ignore, Gallery U continues to be the most important arts establishment this side of the Hudson.  I grabbed flyer on the way out for the next show "Haute Couture" August 26th featuring a full scale runway and fashion show with fashion inspired artwork!!!!

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