Recap: 3rd Annual Art Fair 14C at Mana Contemporary
The third-annual Art Fair 14C, produced by Art House Productions, was held on November 12-14, 2021 inside Mana Contemporary’s 40,000-square-foot Glass Gallery. Over 120 artists and galleries set up shop in 60 exhibition booths and Juried Show stalls to showcase and sell their work over three days. Exhibitors represented international artists and galleries, though a majority were from the New Jersey/New York area. For many, this past weekend marked the first time they were exhibiting their work in over 18 months, with some citing their last big fair was the last 14C in February 2020 and others even longer.
Getting Back Into The Groove
“I did the 14C Art Fair at the hotel, but I’m really excited for this year coming back strong in the Glass Gallery and Mana,” said exhibiting artist Serena Bocchino.
The Gallery lived up to its name with its high ceilings and windowed walls providing so much light that the stark white inside positively glowed around the art pieces, which spanned from every corner of the art world from paintings to photography to clay sculptures to metalwork to found objects to blown glass to LED lights and so, so much more. To say there was something for every art lover is an understatement. The works felt exciting, experimental, and emotional, and overall gave off an aura of relief and happiness to be out again in the world.
“This is the first fair we’ve done since the pandemic,” said exhibitor MK Semos, co-owner of Decorazon Gallery in NYC. “It’s been awhile, and we’re really excited to finally be here, especially in Jersey City with 14C.”
Artists were given free range to use their allotted spaces as uniquely as they created their art. Some chose a minimal approach, spreading out their pieces with lots of white space in between to breathe. Others chose to add small, practical elements like a table, chair, and area rug or painted sections of the walls to further frame and highlight their paintings and sculptures. Still others used every inch to create their own space through painting the whole stall, hanging tapestries, or adding interactive elements to really draw in the public. One example was artist Scott Boone Small, who brought the party into his booth with a large couch, live music, and light shows that all spoke to and enhanced the vibrant work being shown.
There were also giant freestanding cement cubes that gave a handful of artists the ability to create a more immersive experience, like Frank Ippolito’s voyeuristic back-lit photographs framed to look like windows being peered into from a black curtained room, or showcase some larger-than-life pieces, like Margaret Roleke’s strands of thousands of multicolor spent shotgun shells that were dramatically draped and hanging from the ceiling.
One element of the Fair that made it special was its specific celebration of local artists. Among the booths, white crisscrossing stalls lined one side of the window-filled wall of the gallery showcasing only local talent as part of the Juried Show. The 40 artists selected by the directors of the event for this show-within-a-show qualified only if they were residents of or had their studio in New Jersey. As part of being chosen, these select artists received lifetime attendance passes to Art Fair 14C for themselves and a guest, as well as exhibition and residency opportunities during the rest of the year. About half of the artists (18) represented Jersey City, while others came from as close as Hoboken, Weehawken, and Bayonne and as far out as Trenton, Flemington, and Asbury Park.
The inclusion of representation for local artists spoke to the Fair’s mission to uplift the surrounding arts community, which even the name is a play-off on the old joke of, “Oh, you’re from Jersey? What exit?” “We take our Jersey-centric mission seriously,” states the Fair’s website. “We work to strengthen and support artists and arts organizations and businesses, particularly in our home state.”
And despite being an international show with artists from countries like Spain, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, and many more represented by galleries and art collectives, the diversity of the people showing their work and the visual representations of their cultures felt right at home in New Jersey, especially in the country’s most diverse city.
“I had an art teacher in graduate school who once said, ‘Pieces of art are at their best where they come together because that’s where the tension and drama is and that’s where things fall apart or meld together,’” said exhibiting artist Moss Freedman. “I think one of the great things about being an artist in New Jersey is that it’s literally where the rest of the country comes together with New York City and creates that exciting feeling of drama and tension, and I think that’s really cool.”
The Arts Community of Jersey City
Art House merged with 14C in 2018, and although the annual art fair is their centerpiece, the Art House’s mission is to support arts and artists year-round through increasing opportunities for artists and small art galleries/businesses and expanding public access to fine art in order to enhance New Jersey and Jersey City’s reputations as leading arts destinations. For more information about Art House Productions, visit www.arthouseproductions.org.
For a full list of exhibitors and links to their websites to view their work, visit the 14C website here.
Check out our Instagram @everythingjerseycity for pictures from Art Fair 14C, and let us know some of your local favorites, too!