The Art Center on First is a mammoth industrial complex that once was the Old Gold Cigarette factory in Jersey City, NJ. Today, and for a decade or so, it houses an ever-growing artist community that, in typical fashion, has worked to bring life to this dilapidated section of an otherwise burgeoning metropolis. Along those lines, Regurgitation is the latest in a new movement to try and blend many forms of creative expression in to one user-friendly event.
Up the rickety stairs to the fourth floor and down the long hallway I followed the signs to the Expo. At the end of the walk was the Hipnosis Magazine information table, which by the second day, was bursting with flyers, tapes, CDs and other useful items. Off in the corner was a mannequin of some sort with a television for a head. On the screen was a video of a man being slapped … a lot. These compelling images captured everyone’s attention as they moved towards the entrance of the main room. Though a tunnel made of cloth on which was projected an ever-changing display colors and photographs combined with the silhouettes of those already inside.
From the obvious to the abstract to the surreal to the bizarre, all forms of expression were represented inside this 3000 square foot cavern of a gallery. The sheer volume of creative talent that is bursting out of this region never ceases to amaze me. I give the folks at Regurgitation high scores for pulling off an event of this magnitude. The expo spread out past the boundaries of the main gallery to smaller rooms on the third floor where they oversaw countless simultaneous performances. I was most impressed by their inviting attitude toward everyone. They have an obvious love for art and a clear desire to propel the ideals of a united creative community to a new plateau.
My one main beef would be the mood of Friday’s attendees. It was my intention to infiltrate their mindset, to learn what brought them here and what ultimately made them tick creatively, spiritually, logically. This is after all, what I do. Unfortunately as I maneuvered through the room, I found cold people huddled in tight cliques, shrouded in fashionably dark shells behind walls of apparent boredom. It was as if they were waiting for something to happen. Yet the organizers did an extraordinary job of making sure that there was multiple stimuli swirling right there in front of them and next to them and above them at all times.
Then there were those who decided that an art exhibit was the perfect arena for a game of Hacky-Sack. They were blatantly uncoordinated and looked stupid trying to kick this obnoxious pink testicle around. I was about to tell them to stop when one clown fell into a painting and put his fist through the glass of the frame. To add insult to injury, they all simply walked away.
I got to the event early the next evening. It was nice to be able to walk around, calmly, quietly and gaze at the art at a normal pace. It gave me a chance to actually meet with some of the artists and patrons. Later, the free flowing music offered a feeling of an underground rave. I drifted freely through various parts of the Expo and was able to actually stop and have long, meaningful conversations with warm, talented people. The tone of this night was more relaxed than the previous and the true potential of an event such as this had begun to shine through. The smiles, the open interaction and the genuine respect were what had been missing up to this point. Not to mention the bungee ballet.
New candidates in the asshole category did manage to make an appearance that night, despite all of the good vibes. They were a team that decided to spray-paint the walls of the complex and the doors of private studios. It wasn’t even an artistic statement as far as anyone could tell. It appeared to be nothing more than pathetic attempt to say “We Were Here” displaying only moronic disrespect.
All in all, Regurgitation offered an open environment for a vast array of creative types to meet, greet and grow. It is true that much work still needs to be done to get an overly apathetic public to understand what this is for. Of course that should not be a problem if we can get events such as this to take place on a more regular basis. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest to show support for organizations such as Regurgitation.