Neumann Leather Building (graphic by the author based on Google Maps)

November 3 marks day one of the Hoboken Artists’ Studio Tour. Back in 1981, when the current tour began, about 10 artists participated. Today, the tour features more than 200 artists. Events include open studios, makeshift exhibitions, site-specific installations, and music. Though the citywide tour features several locations, Neumann Leather industrial complex is the main site.

The complex has been part of Hoboken since the American Civil War. Once home to a leather factory, the sprawling brick shithouse sits at the foot of Willow Avenue between Newark Street and Observer Highway.

For more than twenty years, the building has operated as a haven for artists, musicians, designers and artisanal craftsman. Although many types of artists inhabit its studios, most tend to be representational painters devoted to the figure and landscape. It functions as an old world bastion for artists devoted to the craft, skill and discipline of painting.

It is easy to see why the building lures these artists.

Neumann Leather is 250,000 square feet, with high ceilings, large windows, abundant natural light and freight elevators. To go to New York, artists walk seven minutes to the PATH station.

Hoboken is located in New Jersey. It’s one of the major symbols of gentrification in the United States. And the Cake Boss reality tv series is filmed here. Do not let this reality deter you. Door to door, just 40 minutes separate Neumann Leather building from Brooklyn, via mass transit.

If you need another boost to push you across the river, Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel is performing at Maxwell’s on Sunday night.

Here is my list of recommendations of things you should see and do over the next few days.

Tim Daly, “Police Activity, Venice, CA” (2008-2010), acrylic on canvas, 50 x 96 inches

Tim Daly at Neumann Leather (site)

Daly was born and raised in a working class section of Jersey City in the late 1950s. By his early twenties, he was an art school dropout, hitchhiking through the Hackensack Meadowlands. He remembers the marshland as a place where discarded pharmaceuticals were as likely to pop up as a great blue heron. This clash between mass industrialization and the natural world has been the basis of much of Daly’s paintings and drawings for the past three decades. For the tour, Daly will be showing a new series of drawings. November 5, 12–6 pm, November 6, 12–6 pm.

Tim Heins, “Making Sure” (1996), oil on canvas, 36 x 24 inches

Tim Heins at Neumann Leather (site)

Painter Tim Heins deals with recognizable subjects, but they do not set out to provoke; on the contrary, his work offers aesthetic delight. For the tour, he is showing a body of nudes in painting, drawing, and works on paper. In “Making Sure” (1996), a young, beautiful woman dips her toe in a backyard pool as a man floats face down in the water. A green terrycloth bathrobe, which is held together by the woman’s right hand, covers her breasts and shoulders. To this pictorial invention and others, he brings a commanding mix of realism and abstraction. November 5, 12–5 pm, November 6, 12–5 pm.

Sofia Bachvarova, “Last Time She Saw Him He Told Her It Will Be Forever” (2010), oil and leaf on canvas, 68 x 74 inches

Sofia Bachvarova at Neumann Leather (site)

When I look at Bachvarova’s work, words like “ornate,” “demented” and “decadent” come to mind. In Venus, a Rubenesque nude figure stands in a garden overflowing with colorful flowers and tiny woodland beasts. In front of the figure’s face hovers a black apparition like a raven flapping its wings. To make out the identity of the person is impossible. In her painting and sculpture, Bachvarova seamlessly alternates between fantasy and reality. November 5, 12–5 pm, November 6, 12–5 pm.

Jennifer Krause Chapeau, “Billboard” (nd), oil on canvas, 28 x 54 inches

Jennifer Krause Chapeau at Neumann Leather

Chapeau paints the landscape. The subject is not groundbreaking but her approach is worthy of note. As Chapeau drives from one part of the country to another, she photographs anonymous fields and vistas as they whoosh past the passenger side window. These photographs serve as the launching pad for her work. November 5, 12–5 pm, November 6, 12–5 pm.

Deborah Pohl, “Cave USA 2” (2010) catalogues and duct tape

Deborah Pohl at Neumann Leather (site)

I am not sure if Pohl is a folk artist or a conceptual artist from New Jersey. In a new series of self-portraits, Pohl’s mug does not make an appearance. Often, orange and green blobs replace her nose, ears, mouth and eyes. To me, the defining characteristics in the series are the hairdos, which operate like a psychedelic power source. Sunday, November 6, 12–5 pm.

Ann Marshall, “I Used to be a Southern Belle” (2011), pastel and collage on paper, 39 x 55 inches

Ann Marshall at Neumann Leather (site)

If you like to look at drawings of beautiful young women, Marshall is the artist for you. Most of her porcelain-skinned women are alone. Often, they sit in a chair or couch in some gaudy setting. All of them appear still, posed, as if daring you to make eye contact. November 5–6, 12–5 pm.

Michelle Doll, “Acoustic Shadow” (2011), oil on mylar, 21.5 x 29 inches

Michelle Doll at Neumann Leather (site)

Doll’s paintings have the ability to quicken the heart rate. In the past, she often depicted herself in domestic settings, attending to various grooming and beauty rituals. We saw her in the bath, bedroom and vanity, in various states of undress. Frequently, the sole light source was a tableside lamp or tiny window. In her newer work, the domestic setting is not as apparent as before, and in some cases, it’s nonexistent. We see little indication of a life outside the picture. November 5, 12–5 pm, November 6, 12–5 pm.

Glenn Garver,”Untitled #007″ (nd) oil on canvas, 32 x 42 inches

Back in Black at Neumann Leather

Artist J. Krause Chapeau is organizing a group exhibition of artists based in the facility. A few of the contributors deviate from representational painting. Glenn Garver works paint around the canvas with the animal intensity of a prizefighter. Beneath the virtuoso brushwork and explosions of color is cool aplomb. If you couple Jasper John’s target paintings with the crude drawings often found in men’s public restrooms, you can picture the work of John A. Patterson. Mauro Altamura contributes four pinhole photographs on 4×5″ chrome film. The exposures were made overnight and range from 5 to 9 hrs long. The vibe is bootleg surveillance. Exhibition includes 13 other artists. November 5, 12–5 pm, November 6, 12–5 pm.

Kara Rooney, “Untitled (Monuments of Language)” (nd), installation detail, mixed media with audio, 165 x 85 x 15

Empty Spaces at Hoboken Business Center

The work on display is a sampling of a larger exhibition currently being held at the newly renovated gallery at STUDIO III VII I in Jersey City. If you love the written word or printed matter, check out artist Kara Rooney text-based works. In one sculpture, a stack of cast-resin newspapers juts into the air like a smokestack. At its peak, sits a coil of rope. (I’ll have three scoops of ice cream, with a cherry on top.) In another sculpture, she inscribed letters and words (both recognizable and unfamiliar) onto wooden modules like a child’s alphabet block set. Stephanie Panepinto and James Salzano round out exhibition. November 5, 12–6 pm, November 6, 12–6 pm.

Directions (site)

The route from Hyperallergic HQ to the Neumann Leather Building, 300 Observer Hwy, Hoboken, NJ 07030

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