It wasn’t supposed to be a very big event last Sunday. Boston transplant Jennifer Hicks, a performance artist and dancer of some renown, had closed in October on her purchase of a large old industrial building at 11 Jane Street in the village center, just off Partition. Demolition of the structure’s interior was to begin this coming Saturday, February 18. She’d invited 19 artists from around the region to “have fun with the blank walls” before they disappeared.
The February 12 “opening reception” was supposed to have drawn maybe about 40. Despite a steady blanketing of snow, however, over a hundred people showed up, although Hicks was quick to note that they did so in waves so the place never felt overcrowded.
That was the opening. The closing will be this Saturday.
“I’ve always lived and worked in warehouse-like places,” Hicks explained before the open-to-the-public closing event this weekend. “I was ready to move from Massachusetts and knew a lot of artists here in the area. I have been visiting Saugerties since I was growing up in New Jersey …. It took a year researching what I could and could not do with the building before I finally bought it.”
Hicks will expects to unveil what she wants after the demolition. Her local architect, Scott Dutton, will shepherd the project through the local planning and permitting process. Suffice it to say that Hicks’ scheme has to do with the arts. She’s been working with Jen Dragon of Cross Contemporary, a short walk away, on the recent “Tear Down Pop Up Art” event, which included film screenings and live performance as well as some two-dimensional and installation work.
“It’s such a rare opportunity to have space on a wall to do whatever you want with,” Hicks said. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this myself.’
Artists who worked in 11 Jane Street or will be showing pieces this Friday include Lucinda Abra, Gabriel Adams, Christina Alicino, Kelly Bickman, Andrea Cook, Tasha Depp, Richard Edelman, Joseph Conrad Ferm, Deborah Freedman, Norm Magnusson, Michael Pope, Draga Susanj, Nurya Channa, Kate Christiansen, Steve Clorfeine, Jennie Portney and the graffiti artist Zalv. Media include film, video, dance and performance.
One person has papered a kitchen with The New York Times. Others have created full-room paintings.
“We had one heating pipe in the entire building. It was really cold,” Hicks reported. “There was no water since the pipes have been cut, but we did have electricity.” The wintry weather made last weekend’s “opening reception” not without its difficulties.
The snow outside, the new Sawyer artist added, was easy to deal with. “I have an itty-bitty sidewalk,” she said.
Does she expect community blowback on her plans? She says there’ll be no loud music, no events other than the occasional opening. The idea is to work with local artists and give back to the community.
11 Jane has no website yet, but Cross Contemporary has some information on its Facebook page, as does https://www.facebook.com/11janestreet/.
That closing party is set to run from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday, February 17 at 11 Jane Street in Saugerties.