It's All American: Inaugural Exhibition
New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art
By: NJ MoCA - Oct 28, 2010
It's All American
The New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art
Curated by Alex Gartenfeld and Haley Mellin
October 24 - November 15, 2010
Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall Mezzanine
1300 Ocean Avenue
Asbury Park, New Jersey 07712
ASBURY PARK, NJ—The New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art (NJ MoCA) launched its programming on October 23, 2010 with a benefit gala and preview of the inaugural exhibition, “It’s All American”, at the historic Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall Mezzanine in Asbury Park, New Jersey. This celebrates NJ MoCA's entrance onto the cultural world stage and establish New Jersey's first museum of contemporary art. “It’s All American” brings together 37 local and international artists whose practices explore the artistic and folk traditions that characterize Americana, curated Alex Gartenfeld and Haley Mellin.
The exhibition will be on view from October 24 – November 15, 2010, featuring artists: Peter Coffin, Rob Pruitt, Jessica Houston, Monica Bonvicini, Davis Rhodes, Polly Apfelbaum, Martin Creed, Matt Sheridan Smith, Robert Melee, Grayson Revoir, John Giorno, Mathew Cerletty, David Adamo, Jeremy Deller, James Fils-Aime, Ryan Kitson, Martin Soto Climent, Philippe Decrauzat, Uri Aran, Josephine Meckseper, Jason Loebs, Les Rogers, Joe Bradley, New Jerseyy, Daniel Turner, Sterling Ruby, Ryan McGinley, Rita Ackermann, Keltie Ferris, Francesca DiMattio, Brendan Fowler, Michael St. John, Michele Abeles, Aurel Schmidt, Heather Rowe, Zak Prekop and Van Hanos.
The artists in “It's All American” use various strategies and media to address the promise of progress and prestige offered by the "Made in America" brand and the designation as "all-American." This inaugural exhibition is supported by its location in New Jersey, a media-saturated state characterized by its economic, social, and ritual co-dependency with urban centers. The exhibition reflects an evolving approach to Americana and what it means to be American. The work tests sentiments of endurance, optimism and reconstruction, depth, individual perspective and wisdom; the maturation of America figures largely into this show as the artists here engage the ability of the activity of art to respond to recent political and economic events. Fittingly, this New Jersey-based exhibition takes place in the state that informed Philip Roth's 1997 novel, American Pastoral, about a crisis of individual experience brought to bear by larger contemporary events. Many of the artists here engage handmade monumentality and series in order to unpack the resilience of these strategies amidst a confusion and saturation of images. The show exhibits a maturation of America and its construction of contemporary perspectives.
Many of the works specifically re-use American iconography. Rob Pruitt’s series of denim sculptures, filled with construction material and installed in hammy anthropomorphic configurations, find a new context in Asbury Park, the home to Bruce Springsteen. Artists like Grayson Revoir and Jessica Houston remobilize the signatures of urban, suburban, and ex-urban living, remaking and revitalizing them in order to desperately update. Peter Coffin’s series of silhouette sculptures flatten canonical works of sculpture to fold many modes of storytelling into a seemingly two-dimensional structure. Ryan McGinley’s ebullient imagery is a documentary-style record of contemporary life and lifestyle, open to personal re-interpretation. Artists like Monica Bonvicini and Martin Creed draw critically from the fascination and speed with which dreams are made and changed in the contemporary context; Michael St. John installs these images, in all their infamy, to create honest and often confrontational hubs.
About the curators
Alex Gartenfeld is co-curator of the inaugural exhibition at NJ MoCA. He is Online Editor for Art in America and Interview Magazines. He has written in catalogue essays about Joseph Beuys and Chris Burden, among others. He keeps columns about contemporary art in the New York Observer and Fantom, and runs an independent space called West Street Gallery.
Haley Mellin is co-curator of the inaugural exhibition at NJ MoCA. She is an artist living and working in New York. Her recent exhibitions include the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; RENTAL GALLERY, New York; Berkeley Art Museum; Yale University, Connecticut; and Sculpture Center, New York, among others. A graduate of the Whitney ISP, Mellin is completing a Doctorate in Visual Culture and Education.
About NJ MOCA
The New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art (NJ MoCA), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the first dedicated to exhibiting international and emerging artists in the state of New Jersey. As a non-collecting kunsthalle-style institution, NJ MoCA’s mission is to facilitate the artist as the centre-point in community building and economic development, cultivating unique platforms for artists who are producing the most inspiring and thought-provoking art of our time. NJ MoCA seeks to unite these mutually reinforcing aspects in the advancement of the arts to transform the state of New Jersey into a vibrant cultural anchor for contemporary art.
NJ MoCA’s programming utilizes a range of spaces across the state of New Jersey – from billboards and empty storefronts, to abandoned warehouses and corporate structures. NJ MoCA activates a vital sense of participation while supporting artists and curators in realizing projects beyond the capacity of its yet to be realized museum walls. In doing so, it engages the surrounding host community to develop curatorial projects and educational programming, creating an exciting new dialogue.
With “It’s All American”, NJ MoCA will commence the museum’s programming. This inaugural exhibition will take place in Asbury Park’s 16,000-square-foot historic Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall Mezzanine. Built at the tail end of the Depression by Warren and Wetmore, the architects of Grand Central Station, the building is an index of the state and region’s synthesis of historical influences, and continuous transformations.
For more information about the museum, please visit www.njmoca.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org/ 908-818-8288.