The Keeper of Jersey City Art


By Bridget Whitfield

The New Jersey art scene is alive and well and any students looking for inspiring and jaw-dropping art don’t have to cross the Hudson River, but can walk fifteen minutes to Mana Contemporary.

The 2-million square-foot art center was filled with urban trendsetters and families eager to see the newest art exhibition. Inspired by India, Italy, Europe, and the United States, the art was able to speak to people from around the globe. With vivid paintings, sculptures, a furniture showroom, and even a room for kids to paint the walls, the audience was engaged and overjoyed on opening day.

Mana Contemporary opened its largest exhibitions to date on Sunday, September 14th in Jersey City, New Jersey. The Pellizzi Family Collections and other artists featuring George Condo, Francesco Clemente, Julio Glan, and Daniel Lezama, all contributed to the six floors of gallery space and are on view until March 13, 2015.

Eugene Lama founded Mana Contemporary in 2009, and in five years has developed 100-plus art studios, galleries, dance studios, silk screening studios, exhibition space and has had over 100 exhibitions to date. They also opened a Chicago location in 2013 and hope to add a Los Angeles location at the end of the year.

The exhibition Sunday was inspired by Francesco Pellizzi, a writer on contemporary art and co-founder of Harvard Journal on Anthropology and Aesthetics, who collected art throughout the 70’s in 80’s in New York. Primarily tribal and minimal art, Pellizzi had special connections to the five artists selected to be featured in the galleries.

In a press release, Pellizzi describes his collection:

“I could never quite understand what the word ‘collector’ really meant,” he said. “I never considered myself one.”

“At certain times of my life I have encountered the works of artists that have captivated me and has lead me into warm relationships with the artist themselves,” he said. “After that, it is hard to say if it was the friendship that lead me to acquire more works, or the works that further nourished the friendship.”

The Pellizzi Family Collection is not only connected to Francesco and his family, but also to Mana Contemporary.

Selena Ricks, the Public Relations Director for Mana explained how the Pellizzi collection was selected.

“We have a small advisory team that selects the art exhibits,” she said. “We specialize in showing contemporary art from around the world with a particular focus on collections, such as our current exhibit of the Pellizzi Family Collection.”

This expansive exhibit, which included artists from various regions and eras, took three months to put together and attracted 2,000 guests to opening day.

“Sunday’s opening of the Pellizzi Family Collection was one of our largest exhibitions, and it was the first time we had an exhibition spread out over three floors of gallery space,” she said. “It’s also a particularly remarkable collection of painting masters.”

The masters, including Francesco Clemente, an artist who divided his time between Italy, New York, and India, his work had many different inspirations and viewpoints.




George Condo was also featured, a huge contemporary artist who focuses on both European classicism to American contemporary culture. He actually was the artist who painted the image on the popular album in 2010, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, by Kanye West.




Mana Contemporary expects to continue to grow in the future, with more exhibitions, galleries and artists.

“Mana Contemporary’s mission is to be a magnet for artists, collectors, curators, students, and art enthusiasts,” Ricks says. “We will be adding educational programming in 2015, along with more artists’ studios, a sculpture garden, and more performance space.”

With the success of the Pellizzi Family Collections Exhibition, Ricks says there is more to come.

“Our next opening is on January 11, 2015. We will open Making Art Dance, a massive show of set designs and costumes from the dance company of our resident choreographer, Karole Armitage,” she says. “The exhibit will be held in our 50,000-square-foot glass gallery and will be curated by Jeffrey Deitch, former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.”


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