Formed in 2002, hob’art is a co-operative gallery in the Monroe Center (720 Monroe Street) that works with member artists to provide support for them to create, promote, market, exhibit, and sell their work.
“The biggest obstacle [to creativity in Hoboken] is getting people to feel included in the art scene here in Hoboken. Since the majority of people living in Hoboken are not artists, art galleries and the like might be intimidating for some,” says hob’art’s Alison Pariso. “As a co-operative gallery, we can work towards helping others feel included and to feel free to express their creativity.”
hob’art conducts workshops, critiques, exhibitions, film nights, artists talks, and slide evenings at the gallery and various locations throughout Hoboken, aiming to exhibit contemporary art of the highest standard. As a collective gallery, hob’art welcomes a wide range of art work and media: fiber, printmaking, digital, photography, sculpture/3D, painting, drawing and mixed media.
“Hoboken offers many advantages for creative people because there is not as much competition as there is in New York,” says Pariso. “Since we are only a mile square city, there is a greater sense of community—and community is an important factor in fostering a creative environment. I see so much creative potential here.”Robert Policastro
A member of Hoboken’s creative community for over 15 years, artist Robert Policastro has persevered by making the most of what he has here in town.
“The Waterfront is a free for all in terms of artistic opportunity,” says Policastro. It’s a great place to concentrate.”
He prefers a traditional approach, seeking to create his images from real life and imagination. “There’s too much dependence upon photography,” he says. “I like to just go out and draw. It’s challenging—subjects move, people move and block the subjects—it requires a bit of skill.”
Policastro credits his survival as an artist here in Hoboken to his ability to adjust. “You need to redefine yourself to fit the market,” he says. “Meanwhile you supplement your income by giving art lessons or teaching drawing.”
The Realities of Hoboken
Hoboken continues to evolve, and seemingly evolution entails ever-increasing cost of living.
“High rent prices prohibit creativity—when it gets too expensive for artists to live and work in your community, creativity is stifled,” says Barsky. “Yet, Hoboken still has this Bohemian style, which drives the art community.”
But Bohemian optimism is sometimes just isn’t enough. “To be honest, pursuing a career in the arts is not an easy task. Motivation and endurance are key factors in making a living as an artist,” says hob’art’s Pariso. “Artists must have the motivation to evolve with the times and to be creative with how they sell their art.”
The artistic mind and the business mind are not always seeing eye-to-eye. “Unfortunately, without the business know-how or the help of professional galleries, most artists can’t make a living purely off artwork sales,” says Barsky, echoing Policastro’s conclusions. “It’s useful to rely on multiple sources of income, such as gallery showings, teaching positions, web sales, commission projects and grants. Of course as a gallery owner, my view is that artists should put their time and effort into refining their voice on the canvas, and leave the business side to us.”
For Roig, things are currently going better than even he had expected. “Hoboken is valuing my art with their purchases and support—it really is so exciting; it’s hard to sleep,” he says. “All of the hard work has paid off, and that’s the energy I feel on First Street from other business owners, they are all driven. There is an energy here and the community is real.”
For Policastro, he obviously sees the renewed spotlight on Hoboken art as being good for the creative community in general. “You grow, and you watch others grow along with you.” He feels support, empathy and desire for success from so many facets of the community—and that’s what keeps him here, doing art in Hoboken.
“It’s hard to leave once you’ve made so many friends.”