Action 21 presents Exhibit by Professional and Developing Artists
Non-Profit provides Resources & Workshops
By By Sally Deering
Above a string of small shops along Central Avenue in Jersey City a dedicated group of volunteers who teach ESL and arts workshops, and advocate for people needing social services, prepares for its first art exhibition featuring works by local artists.
Running through April 30th, Action 21 of Jersey City presents an exhibition of paintings and folk art created by professional and amateur artists curated by art therapist and teacher Roxana Marroquion, a five-year Action 21 volunteer and Jersey City resident. The art exhibit’s recent opening reception held at the Community & Love in Action community center on Central Avenue featured music, dance, poetry, and a lively community gathering.
Artists displaying their works Ray Arcadio, Sidney Acosta, Ricardo Osmondo Francis, Maria Camila Gomez, Eric Cure, Rosa Huitzitzilin, Julia Lomba, Roxanna Marroquin, Angelica Kitty Martinez, Lilly Mojica Perez, Fermin Mendoza, Miquel Peralta, Herbert Valenzuela, The Dominican Folk Art of Los Andulleros de Santiago, and Michele Montanez a budding artist who recently discovered her painting talents as a student at New Jersey City University.
“I took a course in oil painting,” Montanez says of her painting ‘Power’ which pays homage to ‘Rosie, the Riveter’ an image from WWII when women went to work in munitions factories while men fought the war. “My family is from Puerto Rico and I was born and raised here. You look a certain way, you go through a lot of issues.”
Dealing with issues of social injustice was—and is– Action 21’s mission. Founded in 2002 by Narciso Castillo of Jersey City, the group continues to advocate for people in need of resources for housing, U.S. citizenship, domestic violence, and issues pertaining to social injustice. Its volunteers provide art classes for children; and ESL and wellness workshops for parents. Action 21 Director Monica Aguilar also taps the volunteers’ talents who, in turn, teach dance, fitness, nutrition, meditation, and coach sports like soccer.
“This is about our love for our community,” Aguilar says at the art show’s opening reception, where she introduced the performers and volunteers. “Art is a way to educate and inform our community. The art classes we offer children are a way for them to express themselves.”
Artist Sidney Acosta, who has two paintings in the show moved to Jersey City from the Dominican Republic more than 10 years and now works toward a degree in art therapy at New Jersey City University. One painting in the show is of a face semi-submerged in water.
“A lot of my inspiration has to do with things happening to our environment,” Acosta says. “This piece is about islands that are drowning and the people who live on those islands.”
Visiting the States for two weeks to study dance, Isa Cordoba of Colombia is a professional Salsa dancer in her native country and also a social activist who runs the organization, “My Body is My Story,” which helps children who have lived through sexual violence express themselves through dance. Cordoba performed a Salsa for the audience and spoke about her non-profit organization.
“Our bodies are the memories of all the experiences we live,” Cordoba told the audience. “We work with children and teens who have had sexual violence, so they can express their stories in a healthy way. In Colombia there are many problems and much joy.”
Action 21 advocates for people’s rights through art, education and peaceful marches like the annual march to stop violence against women held in Jersey City in November. This year marks the 5th year of the march, Aguilar told the crowd.
Whether marching against domestic violence or teaching meditation, Action 21 aims to serve the community’s needs through education and arts programs.
“We are here to serve everyone,” Aguilar says.
If you go
Through April 30th
Action 21 Art Exhibit
Community & Love in Action community center
345 Central Ave, JC
(Offices) 130 Central Ave, JC