March 4, 2022 by Tris McCall
Could the grip of the pandemic finally be slackening? Or are we just nestled in a comfortable trough between towering waves? Here in Jersey City, where we’ve gotten smacked around by an invisible foe for the better part of the past two years, guards are cautiously coming down: we see fewer masks on the street, fewer precautions, fewer hunched shoulders and held breaths. It’s premature, perhaps, to say we’re ready to party — chances are, we’re going to have PTSD for the foreseeable future. But the first Jersey City Fridays of the year feels very much like an event on the cusp of something, and a harbinger of turned fortunes. The art is less wary, less indicative of cataclysm, a bit more playful, more whimsical, maybe even cautiously hopeful.
The show at Firmament Gallery (329 Warren St., at Nimbus Arts Center) centers the body, fragments it, and reassembles it, and does it all (mostly) in the spirit of fun. “The Exquisite Corpse Show” is also a kind of game — or maybe a puzzle. Curator Tina Maneca has solicited paintings of female faces, torsos, and legs, shuffled them, stacked them, and presented them as amalgams of competing but complementary visions. She didn’t tell any of the artists who they’d be matched with; she’s simply built her women from the parts she’d gathered according to her own notion of what might goes with what. Maneca
enlisted many of Hudson County’s most prominent female artists to play along with her, including Eileen Ferara, Cheryl Gross, Caridad Kennedy, Beth Achenbach, Alex Gulino, Theda Sandiford, and Art House Productions curator Andrea McKenna, who contributes one of her ghostly, distressed heads, hung from a wooden branch.