Sunday, April 29, 2018

An Abundant Life - Painting A Story

The first time I met Keith Kimmel (known as the art of kEith), I was at a studio event at the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation which is also known as ESKFF. It was the first time that I met Eileen Kaminsky, and when I told her that I wrote a blog that included posts about artists and designers, she took the time to introduce me to the artists who were there. The event was a celebration for the work of one of the artists who had been involved with the collaborative projects that Eileen coordinates with Gary Lichtenstein through her Foundation and Gary Lichtenstein Editions, and Eileen knew Keith through the work that he had done in a residency he had previously had with Gary. Keith invited me to an open studio event he was having in a few weeks, and as at the time I was arranging a time to meet with Jean-Antoine Norbert in his studio at Mana, I planned to meet both of them on the same day. When I arrived at Jean-Antoine's and told him I was planning to go to visit Keith in his open studio afterward, when we were finished talking Jean-Antoine walked me over to say hello because they were in the same area. It was a quiet night at Mana, not one of the larger open studio days, and so we had a chance to talk before more people arrived. I suggested to Keith that we meet again at another time for a blog post when he could tell me more of his story, and he looked at me with the very frank and honest look that is an integral part of him and said as he gestured to the paintings in the room, "This is the story." I am a story teller, and I love to tell stories and to listen to the stories of others, and so it took me a moment to fully take in that for Keith, the story was all around him, in his work, in his space and in his visionary art. Many times even the visual artists I write about have stories to tell and we can spend hours talking, but in the case of Keith Kimmel, though we did share some time together and talked about a good amount of different things, the story really is in his extraordinary work.

If I were to try to analyze what it is that makes his work so vital and unique, I might be able to come up with a story to tell, but as Keith said himself, the story is really in the work itself, and as with anything worth listening to, if we just look and listen to it, we can learn a great deal. I do know from our discussion that evening and at other times that he has written a novel and he is also a musician, and when I was following up with him about this piece he told me that he had written two novels. He also told me that he is no longer at Mana, and that he is in the process of creating a new space in another location. Though I am very happy for him that he is discovering a new space and place in his creative life, I also know that with this move if we had not met when when we did, we might not have met at all. In reading through his website, I found out that he had shown his work for a number of years in Fort Collins, Colorado, a very fun fact for me because I think Fort Collins is one of the best places in the world. I had visited many times with a friend, and it was only just as Keith began to show his work in coffee houses there that my own life changed and so our paths did not cross. But there is a perfect time and place for everything to happen, and somehow, for some perfect reason, our meeting was set to be at Mana, first in the ESKFF studio space and then a few weeks later in his own former studio space, a place where when I walked into it, I found myself in another world.

Keith Kimmel (known as the art of kEith)
In His Former Studio
At Mana Contemporary
888 Newark Street
Jersey City, New Jersey


Jannie Susan

Sunday, April 22, 2018

An Abundant Life - Fresh From The Neighborhood

I first heard about Hooked JC from a longtime neighborhood resident who asked if I had been there yet. When I told him I hadn't, he said in no uncertain terms, "You should." As I've written in these pages before, I don't listen to hype, and it's only when certain people make recommendations that I decide to follow up. If I just hear about something in the media or because there's some kind of buzz, I might keep my ears open for what people I know are saying, but I'll definitely wait before going. But because of who told me I should go, and the way that he described it, I knew it was a place that I'd like, and one that I'd felt was missing from my life in the City. You see, Hooked JC has the feel of a seaside fish restaurant, more Gloucester or Pawtucket than Jersey City, and although once upon a time I'm sure there were places like it nestled near the harbor, I haven't seen anything like it since I moved to the area. There are a few restaurants that have that seafood shanty style in outer boroughs of New York City, but they are far off the beaten track and difficult to get to, needing a long travel time on buses and trains and walking unless you have the luxury of a car which I do not. So to find Hooked was a dream come true, and to find it in a neighborhood I like to visit and take a pleasant walk to once in a while was even better.

Hooked was started by two long time friends who wanted to bring that same ocean and harborside feel and flavor to a restaurant nearer to home. Long time chef and restaurateur Tory Aunspach and Natalie Miniard found the spot and lovingly renovated and excavated, discovering different treasures hidden in the basement and under wraps that they added to the decor as they designed and planned the vintage look and feel. The result is a space that welcomes people of all walks of life, and that serves seafood simply and deliciously as fresh off the boat as possible. Customers can order from the daily menu, choosing from cooking methods of Blackened, Fried or Grilled and from styles of preparation of Po Boy, Platter or Over Salad, from a list of fairly regular offerings with a few wild card catches of the day as they are available. Healthy fresh fruit infused water is available, or you can byob. And if you're planning a party or gathering, catering is another service provided.

About a week after I had heard about Hooked, I was at a community gallery opening on my side of the neighborhood across town, and Cheryl Gross, who I posted about last week and whose work was in the show, introduced me to Natalie, one of the co-owners, who was at the reception. I said that I'd just heard about Hooked and had been wanting to try it, and as it turned out that  not only did Cheryl know the owners and the restaurant and liked them, but Natalie was so friendly and welcoming that was the only additional recommendation I needed. Cheryl and I planned a trip there together on a chilly fall evening, and the food and place were everything I could have hoped for. I had sword fish, a long time favorite that I rarely find fresh and delicious enough unless I'm in Rhode Island, and Cheryl and I shared some fried oysters, another favorite that not many people I know do well. They were wonderful and the space delightful - in a way I'm glad they are across town because if they were closer I'd be eating there much more often. I like my own kitchen and my own cooking, but now that I know about Hooked JC, whenever the craving for seafood served in a seaside shanty comes over me, I'll know where I have to go.

Hooked JC
467 Communipaw Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey
(201) 946-4177

Co-Owner and Chef Tory Aunspach
Cleaning Deliciously Fresh Shrimp

Fresh Fruit Infused Water
Always Available

Comfortable And Lovely Vintage And Seaside Decor

Fun And Inventive Tabletop Containers
And Rolls Of Paper-towel To Encourage Full Enjoyment

Local Artist Cheryl Gross In Conversation
With Chef and Co-Owner Tory Aunspach

Rich And Light
Flavorful Fried Oysters

Fresh Grilled Swordfish
Served With Jalepeno-Honey Hushpuppies
And Jicama-Green Apple Coleslaw

Or If You Prefer
A Catch Of The Day Over Fresh Green Salad


Jannie Susan