Finding the Potential - The Journey of Bringing 107 Bowers Gallery & Art Space to Life
When 107 Bowers Gallery and Artspace opened on JC Fridays on September 9th the response was enormous. People came from all over to check out this beautiful new gallery in Jersey City Heights and Kristin, the owner, and her husband, Matt, knew they did something right. Even before the gallery opened there was a huge buzz around it because Jersey City and especially Jersey City Heights is a hub for artists. This space is in the heart of The Heights, just off Central Ave, and Kristin is ready to take The Gallery and its mission on a journey.
Kristin was one of the 1st people to like my Facebook page and subscribe to my newsletter. We had never met, even though we have many Jersey City Friends in common and I just thought she was a really enthusiastic local. Well she is really enthusiastic and passionate about what she does and she loves, The Heights owning her home on New York Ave, around the corner from The Gallery. She reached out to me to check out The Gallery and give me the first article on her and the gallery.
What makes 107 Bowers Gallery and Art Space so special is the amazing plans and collaborations Kristin is working on within the city. While she works a full time job, she is killing it in the idea factory. She even just became an art dealer joining the Association of Women’s Art Dealers. As you will see as your read her story, Kristin has a beautiful and vibrant passion for art and wants to cultivate and share other artists with the world.
Going back to the very beginning, Kristin was an artist from the start. Her grandmother bought her a huge color book one christmas with the 64 Crayola crayon box and she colored right through it. She would then get the same thing every year after that and lived for it. In high school, her walls were covered with portraits from Madonna to Richard Gere. At that time she would draw everything perfectly and her portrait work was amazing.
Then in high school, she was put into honors art. Her teacher Mr. Roberti who would tell every student, “It has potential.” This infuriated Kristin and she didn’t understand the meaning of it then, “I wanted him to tell me it was the worst thing he’s ever seen; to tell me to leave honors art.” She now uses this motto of pushing without criticizing with whomever she is working with because there is always something else there ready to be explored. She explains, “It is a good thing and it is up to you as the artist to figure out that potential. This is huge and I used it in my speech at The Gallery opening. Artists have so much potential and it is about opening doors for yourself.”
One artist currently showing at The Gallery, Leandro Henriquez, is a digital painter who sketches everything by hand and then renders it onto the computer. He did the beautiful peace entitled, “The Singing Bone & Boar Hunter” and it looks like it should be the cover of a science fiction/fantasy book. We highlighted his work in the 1st art contributor post by 107 Bowers Gallery and Art Space. His work is so amazing along with his teacher Jessica Ward, who is also showing at The Gallery, Kristin met them at a Mana Contemporary art event for students. Leandro is so young and Kristin sees the potential in him, “I am helping him get to the next stage by pushing him and seeing where he (and all the artists she works with) need guidance especially when they are really young. This will help strengthen them, not just as an artist, but as a people. And I love doing that so whether it is with students and children or the artists.”
Featured Artist Jerry Khan
Back to her history, she was supposed to go to college for studio art, “but I chickened out and went for art marketing.” She did continued to take studio art classes exploring acrylics and then found oil paints. (*note: “You will make a lot of greens and browns when you first start out and then you figure it out.”*) From portraiture, Kristin moved to pointillism and in college, Professor Baker changed her whole outlook from picture perfect to creative. She was working on a beautiful flower piece and he took a paint brush, put it in her hand, and dipped it in pant. “He said, ‘Ok! Now go all over with the paint!’ and I said, ‘No, I am not,’ and he said, ‘Oh, yes you are!’ And I made this swirl around on top of the flower painting. It was beautiful. This triggered something and opened the door going back to Mr. Roberti from high school.”
After college, she ended up working in traditional marketing always working with artists or designers or agencies. “So, they were always the creatives and I was in the background or as I like to say they are the rockstars and I am the roadie. You are making things happen and seeing where things are going.” With The Gallery she is still doing this but she is able to show her own work and create a vision in The Gallery that is hers.
She took the long road to get to Jersey City. After college she first moved to Boston, then Hoboken, and then down to Princeton, while still working up here, and then up to Jersey City. She was living in a really expensive place and the rent was about to go up even more and her husband, Matt, (then boyfriend said), “Why don’t you move in with me?” She told him he was crazy, as they had only been dating 3 months, but she finally said yes. She was now close to New York City and Hoboken. They lived downtown for a year and a half and then purchased their home on New York Ave.
“I loved living in Hoboken, but it is so young so it is hard as you get older. Downtown was perfect because you are so close to NYC, but we were there before the restaurant boom. I love being up here (Jersey City Heights) because I know so many people. Here, and part of it is from working at The Distillery, I know parents on my street, kids, different people, and one person leads you to the next. I am always telling people to come to The Heights because there is such a neighborhood feel.”
She was very active at The Distillery being introduced to Gabriel, who runs The Distillery, and there she learned to curate and teach. Then Joan Marie, an artist currently showing at 107 Bowers, invited her to produce her first show where she showed her work and Joan Marie curated it. “I really enjoy the process of getting the art work to the people. And that is how this has progressed and seeing the potential in sharing the art.”
Matt, her husband, is always pushing her to show her work, which is on the walls of The Gallery along with the other artists for the current show. Matt is also a frame master knowing exactly which frame is crooked and reaching over behind someone to inconspicuously fix it. They work together and make an amazing team.
This is the team that brought out 30 chairs on the street for people on JC Fridays when it was 95 degrees in The Gallery and on the street. And when it started raining went and got the pop up tent for people to stay dry underneath. And one more, when it was time for Kristin’s speech and she needed to decide where to stand, Matt said, “I knew I should have brought the microphone.” Kristin explained they are ready for anything and “we have a disco ball too.”
The best part of JC Fridays and The Gallery opening was being able to share her story with everyone that came. “Telling my story and thanking people who have helped me along this journey was really special. It was really emotional because it is the culmination of everything I worked towards but you didn't realize you work towards it.”
The second best part was actually producing the show. Having JC Fridays as the opening day, set Kristin and Matt into high gear because now they had a date and a goal. Kristin had nothing but praise for Art House Productions, the organization the runs JC Fridays and is headed by Christine Goodman, a Heights Resident as well. “They take care of everything from A to Z. People are so excited to seeing everything on JC Fridays that it is the perfect day to start.” Christine’s husband, Michael, came to the opening with their two children in tow, “It is that kind of support that means so much because they are not just putting things
together. They are supporting and participating.”
Kristin has so many ideas and plans and everyone has been open to it, “which has been amazing. The turn out at JC Fridays was amazing and people are as excited as I am. This is a process and I can not wait to give back to and work with the community!”
What does Kristin have planned?
Here are some of the highlights (and by highlights I mean a lot of them!)
Holiday Market - art based items that are “stocking stuffers” under $75.
We will be doing giveaways to people who come to the market opening of Kristin’s work.
Young Masters Art Class - a children’s art class that will take place in The Gallery. They had a test run on Sept 25th at the Riverview Farmer’s Market.
Peaceful Frogs Program - October 14th at The Gallery
Run by Susan Newman and Jaime Wilson Murray provide yoga and art classes to children. “Mindful Play Yoga and Frogs Are Green have teamed up to provide children ages 3-6 and 4-12+ with classes that include yoga, mindfulness (awareness), environmental awareness and art. Cultivating creative self expression and exercise are linked to creating lifelong learners. Studies show kids need more art and movement on a regular basis to enhance creativity. Peaceful Frogs is committed to inspiring children ages 3-6 and 4-12+ to become lifelong learners.”
Rush Foundation teaching program - Kristin is working on a proposal to teach in a public school where they have high art engagement.
Art Swapping 1 - Free event with artists helping each other by bringing unwanted/unused art supplies.
Art Swapping 2 - Swapping of actual art to grow your art collection. This could also be swapping services for art as well. This was a misinterpretation by Jerome China, the sculpture artist with his piece in the window, but Kristin loved the idea.
Artist Talks - Artists talking about themselves and sharing their journey. GJC and The Gallery will be teaming up for the March JC Fridays to do this.
Paint and Sips - Art classes for the masses with wine. Explore your creative side with direction.
The space is available for meetings and events and this allows more eyes on the art.
All art is for sale.