Local Motion: Mixed-Media Sculptures by Jennifer Place & Jodie Fink

May 18, 2014 - July 6, 2014

Bowerbirds don’t merely “feather their nests” — they create elaborate art installations to impress prospective mates, using colorful materials collected from around their environment, such as cast-off bottle caps, buttons and trinkets. Jennifer Place identifies with the impulse to collect. The artist and her friend Jodie Fink have been making sculptures from detritus that attracts their eye from their walks around Hoboken for many years. They had a joint show, “Friends and Relations,” at the Museum three years ago.

Lately, Place has been thinking a lot about the bowerbirds, since she’s had to re-feather her own nest after superstorm Sandy swept through her lower Madison Street home and washed out many of her collected supplies—mostly the larger pieces—that were stored in her garden shed. Consequently, she’s working in a smaller format these days—with lots of rusty bits of hardware and small items picked up in the environment.

Superstorm Sandy also wiped out a lot of Fink’s supplies, inundating her basement storage space with five feet of water. She now looks at the storm philosophically, learning the truth of the saying that, sometimes, “less is more.” Her work is increasingly minimalist; one piece is simply an expressive piece of driftwood with a fishing bobber affixed for an eye, making it into a fish named “Henry.” The other trend in her recent work is incorporating an element of motion, with pieces that hang or parts that move.

The two artists are teaming up again for a show they’re calling “Local Motion: Mixed Media Sculptures by Jennifer Place and Jodie Fink.” The exhibit opens in the Museum’s Upper Gallery on Sunday, May 18, with a free reception from 2 – 5 p.m., and remains on view through July 6. Each artist is exhibiting about a dozen works.

Both artists started out working in other media: Fink studied photography in college and Place is a professional graphic artist who started out in drawing and printmaking and now works primarily in jewelry and sculpture, including working with hot glass beads. Fink is now gravitating toward painting and drawing, part of her trend toward simplifying.

The two artists both say that the changes in the city’s demographics have changed the materials they use in their work. When they arrived in the early 1980s, Hoboken was an ethnically diverse town, with lots of local characters, gritty bars, pop-up art galleries and a dynamic music scene. Back in those days, they say, scrounging for “art stuff” was a constant thrill, and artists would call each other on moving days when a particularly rich pile of stuff appeared on the curb. Now, the cast-offs are likely to be less interesting, Ikea furniture and the like. However, the constant construction projects and greater access to the waterfront are supplying more interesting bits and pieces.

Half the fun of seeing a Fink-Place art installation is trying to figure out the origins of the individual parts. One of Fink’s pieces, “Ballerina,” is composed of an element from a gas stove, a pushmower handle, and a lamp bracket. Both artists have exhibited extensively at galleries around the region.

The exhibit is supported by a block grant from the State/County Partnership program for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.

Click here to see a virtual gallery of the exhibit.