Jennifer Hicks, like many artists, has worn a lot of hats in her lifetime: performance artist, dance and movement teacher, installation artist and fine-arts painter. Earlier this spring she opened a performance and art installation space in which to pull all that experience together under one roof, launching “11 Jane St.” in Saugerties – named for the address where it’s located, just off Partition Street in the heart of the village.
Housed in a renovated 19th-century warehouse that Hicks owns, the new venture is designed to function as an arts incubator: a place where artists in residency can create new work in performance and installation art and exhibit the results of their endeavors. “It doesn’t have to be brand-new work,” Hicks says, “but it needs to be work developed with the space in mind. The idea is that people see the space and are inspired by it, and are influenced by being in Saugerties.” The building isn’t zoned for living in, so residency artists will be put up in nearby accommodations within walking distance. The residency artists will offer classes and lectures to support the space, and their month of work will conclude with a show.
With 11 Jane St. being so newly launched, Hicks says that she knows it will evolve over time. But having been involved with performance collectives for decades, and having run performance venues inside warehouses before, she knows the kind of atmosphere that she wants to foster. “There are a lot of galleries, but there’s something about having a space where you can create work, that you can work in. And to have the combination…”
The ground floor at 11 Jane St. is divided into a front gallery, entered into off the street, and a rear gallery with a “sprung” dancefloor that acts like a shock absorber, designed for ease on a body doing movement and performance. The rear gallery will be used for performance art and movement classes as well as art installations, and the front gallery – at least through the end of the year – has been given over to Jen Dragon’s reimagined Cross Contemporary Art gallery, which until its recent closing was housed in a space on nearby Partition Street.
The arrangement is open-ended at this point. “It might be awkward, or weird, having two galleries in the same space,” says Hicks. “I don’t know, but we’re going to give it a go until January and see how it works.” With no visible separation between the front and rear galleries, the plan is for Dragon to schedule shows for her part of the space that will complement the programming of installation and performance art that Hicks has already lined up for the rear gallery.
It’s been a little more than three years since Hicks first purchased the warehouse on Jane Street and began the renovation process. When the building initially came up for sale, she says, she thought to herself, “I know nothing about refurbishing a building, and I’m probably out of my mind to do this, but I want to learn, and I’m going to take a chance.”
Born and raised in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, Hicks earned undergrad degrees in Fine Art in Boston and then moved to Boulder, Colorado, where she received an MFA in Contemporary Performance from Naropa University. When her father became ill and retired to Cape Cod, Hicks moved back to Boston to be closer and help care for him before he passed away in 2014.
Free then to choose where she wished to live, while visiting friends in Saugerties, she realized how much she loved the area and its combination of beautiful nature, village life and culture. “It’s unusual to have all of that together. And the people here are creative thinkers, and worldly.” One of the things that Hicks particularly likes about Saugerties, she adds, “is that you can walk down the street and people say ‘Hello’ to you; which does not happen in Boston!”
The 3,000 square feet of space on the ground floor of 11 Jane St. are matched by an equal amount upstairs, which Hicks is turning into studio space for herself adjacent to a multipurpose room that can be rented out for meetings (not parties). With nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, the rooms upstairs are flooded with natural light. The meeting area has a long table that seats 12 and a stove, microwave, refrigerator and dishwasher. It will be equipped with a coffee machine, whiteboard and Wi-Fi. Another small room will be more of a lounge, furnished with couches and suitable for working on portable devices. The workspace for residency artists is in the basement.
Programming at 11 Jane St. includes video performance artist Andrew Neumann in June and a filmmaker in September who will build an installation and make a film in the space. Hicks will also do an installation in the space involving a performance that wraps around giant plastic bubbles of different sizes.
Hicks also plans to offer movement classes based on Japanese Butoh dance theater, a discipline in which she has been working for nearly 40 years. “It’s image-based movement that works from poetic imagery,” she explains. “It’s not linear, not a story; more of a meditation. First you get the image, then you embody that and move with it, then get another image, and try and match these; it’s like a Zen koan. Then you get a third image and start splicing these all together. It’s a very creative process.”
Overall, Hicks says, she has a vision for 11 Jane St., but it’s not set in stone. “I know where I would like it to go, and it’s moving in that direction. Right now, it’s beautiful: a space for people to create work. And I’m hoping that by next year, if not sooner, the residencies will be set up and the artists will have a solid month that they can create work in the space and do a dialogue between the community and their work. Involving the community is huge to me; it’s a big deal. I don’t want to be an island. I really want this to be an open space, where the artist learns something from Saugerties and Saugerties learns something from the artist, and they can maybe talk to each other.”
For more information on 11 Jane St., visit www.11janestreet.com
Colin Chase and Andrew Neumann shows open on Saturday at 11 Jane St.
11 Jane St. in Saugerties presents two simultaneous art openings on Saturday, June 8. Gallery South features the work of sculptor Colin Chase, curated by Jen Dragon. Represented by the June Kelly Gallery in New York, Chase’s work uses a variety of materials and devices to encourage contemplation. Ideas, forms and textures are synergistically juxtaposed and nestled in incongruent combinations that challenge formal spatial logic. Chase’s work has been included in one-person and group exhibitions in several galleries including the Jamaica Arts Center, Socrates Sculpture Park, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Neuberger Museum of Art.
Gallery North features the work of Andrew Neumann, curated by Jennifer Hicks. Neumann works primarily in time-based media, combing disparate elements into hybrid sculptural pieces. He is also active as an electro/acoustic improvisor, working with both analog and digital synthesis. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an LEF Foundation grant, among other awards. He has three recordings on Sublingual Records, and a new CD forthcoming. Last year he was a resident at A-I-R in Krems, Austria. In addition, he has been invited to the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, i-Park, Djerassi and the Experimental Intermedia Foundation.
Opening of Colin Chase and Andrew Neumann exhibitions, Saturday, June 8, 5-8 p.m., 11 Jane St., Saugerties, www.11janestreet.com