Olivia Monahan- Class of 2017
The arts scene in Jersey City is slowly blossoming throughout the city. Tucked away in Downtown Jersey City, a community for local artists is quickly becoming a hub for visual and performing arts.
Jersey City Theatre Center (JCTC) was founded in 2006 by Olga Levina, a theatre professional with 20 plus years of experience. JCTC found their preliminary support in a grant from Provident Bank and from other well-known artists. Gradually, artists from all around Jersey City started gravitating to the space to utilize the theatre space and art studios. One of those individuals was the curator.
“I was one of the first artists to rent space up here,” Lucy Rovetto said. “There were other places that were bigger, more well lit, and less expensive but I loved the idea of the theatre and the performing arts… everything under one roof. That’s why I decided to come here.”
Rovetto is a Jersey City native, growing up in Greenville. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from New Jersey City University (formerly known as Jersey City State College).
“When I was in college,” Rovetto said, “I did an internship for the Jersey City Museum and we worked on filling everything in the permanent collection. After I graduated, they kept me on as a freelance art handler. They hired me as a photographer for their newsletter shortly after but then I left Jersey City.”
The artist spent about 10 years, on and off, working in South Africa. Rovetto remarked that while she planned to leave the art scene entirely, she worked alongside a sculptor in South Africa. Because she didn’t have her working permits, she had to travel back and forth from South Africa to Jersey City.
When her mother became ill, she decided to move back permanently. When Rovetto settled back into Jersey City, she was drawn back into the arts in her hometown.
“I started to see what was going on in the arts scene in Jersey City and I liked it.”
The arts have gradually made an impact on Jersey City slowing reaching out to the city’s residents. It all began when the Mayor announced The Jersey City Arts Program in 2013. This program would allow for at least 35 street murals to appear within the first year of its announcement. The mayor explained that the murals are helping transform some of Jersey City’s lower class areas into walk-up museums.
“A lot of people have moved over from New York to Jersey City to live but aren’t looking in Jersey City for art,” Rovetto explained. “I don’t want to just have people’s art up here, I want to find people that love to buy art. Somehow, I fell into this curating thing and now I’m doing that.”
Rovetto started her career at JCTC as a resident artist but explained that she created an instant connection with the founders of the organization. Around 2014, Lucy became one of the art curators for the company.
“The way they do it here is they pick a topic and they explore it through visual and performing art. The art director, Olga Levina, chooses the curator. They also try to bring the community in to have talk-backs as well for that series. As the curator, I make the call for art and try to get the message out onto social media as many places as I can think of. Then I chose the art and do all of the administration stuff. At the end of the day, my goal is to sell art.”
Rovetto is curating the next JCTC show, Identity, which opens Friday, February 26th.