Thursday, January 24, 2013

Firehouse Gallery Comes Alive with Art by Jennifer Levine

Posted on January 24, 2013 by Ally Blumenfeld

Earlier this month, ValleyArts Connect blogger Brandon Monokian chatted with artist Jennifer Levine as she prepared to open her new exhibition at the ValleyArts Firehouse Gallery. Check it out here

On Thursday, January 17th, Jennifer Levine: Painting the Neighborhood was welcomed into the ValleyArts neighborhood with an upbeat and delightful opening reception hosted by Richard Bryant and Gayle Mahoney of ValleyArts Inc. The artist herself and collaborator Scott Massarsky were both present at the reception, giving gallery-goers the unique chance to ask questions and chat about the art before them. And there was certainly a lot to chat about! From the large, textured, almost collage-like paintings on wood panels to the small and colorful repurposed wine bottles, every piece in the gallery could hold the viewer captive, intriguing and nearly begging him or her to learn the story that each piece contained. 

With upwards of forty pieces within the main gallery space and the adjoining hallway, there were many stories to be told. In the art of Painting the Neighborhood Levine has created entire worlds for the viewer to explore. Even more exciting, however, was the world into which Levine allowed viewers a special sneak-peek: hers.  “Painting a Song” – a fifteen-minute film created by Levine and Massarsky – was shown about halfway into the night, a choice which added tremendously to the gallery experience. 

Christine Bennett (right) and Nicole Boscarino (Left)
at the opening of Jennifer Levine: Painting the Neighborhood
During the video, musician Massarsky plays his guitar while Levine uses his music to generate images and feelings which she almost effortlessly conveys on her canvas. Christine Bennett and Nicole Boscarino, two Montclair State University students present at the opening, remarked that watching “Painting a Song” allowed them to better understand Levine's art and encouraged them to look at the work in a new light. Indeed, curious eyes wandered back to the paintings and tableaus after the film was over, re-engaging themselves after seeing the histories behind the stories.

It was an inspiring night at the Firehouse Gallery, which itself served as a perfect backdrop to Levine's colorful and thoughtful work. Her art appears to exist at the intersection of purposelessness and purpose, as seemingly haphazard brush strokes form a narrative. Amongst all this is then the idea of repurposing, as Levine repurposes defunct side tables and French doors just as well as she repurposes music to create visually stunning and complex art. For more, keep up with Jennifer Levine at For more on “Painting a Song” click here, and to see the actual short film click here.

Jennifer Levine: Painting the Neighborhood runs now until February 24th at the Firehouse Gallery, located at 580 Forest Street, Orange NJ (free admission). Gallery hours are from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays, 12:30pm to 4pm on Sundays, and by appointment.  

Ally Blumenfeld is a working writer, dramaturg, and photographer based in Montclair, NJ. Two of her original one-act plays have been produced Off-Off-Broadway. She is currently the Gallery Coordinator for the ValleyArts Firehouse Gallery. Follow her on Twitter at @allyblume.

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