A View of the Artist who Creates Watercolors and Sculptures around & about Hudson
By Sally Deering
Steve Singer’s watercolor paintings are soft impressions of Jersey City’s architecture and streets, like watery snapshots of urban landscapes and passing moments.
Singer’s work will be part of the new show BORDERLESS, a month-long series of art, plays and dance that address the effects of Globalization, presented by Jersey City Theater Center and Gallery. BORDERLESS opened Fri, Feb 3, from 6-10, with an evening of performances along with the gallery exhibition curated by Lucy Rovetto.
As a painter, Singer sets up his easel and paints in neighborhoods throughout Jersey City He’s painted the tearing down of St. Joseph’s School of the Blind near Journal Square; a yellow house with a telephone pole sprouting wires on Tuers Street; and, a Cherry Blossom tree blooming on an urban street in The Heights. His painting “Late Bloomers” depicts what seems to be a homeless man catching some shuteye on a bench framed by Van Vorst Park foliage.
“I had to work quick,” Singer says. “I did about 15 minutes, then the man woke up and looked at me. He came over to my painting, made some sounds and walked off. You don’t necessarily get a long time to do the figure when you’re out there. You only get an hour to an hour-and-15 minutes of light; then it changes. I go straight in with the brush; the sketch becomes the painting.”
If you walk along downtown Jersey City, you might encounter one of Singer’s metal sculptures. His piece, “Longshoreman” stands at 2nd & Hudson Street in Jersey City — an image of metal and curves like a 1950s robot. It has humor and poignancy, especially since back in the 1950s and decades before that, the downtown waterfront was where longshoremen worked the piers.
“Metal sculpture was the heart of my career from the 1970s to about 2001; the fall of the Towers (World Trade Center) changed everything,” Singer says.”
These days, Singer works mostly in watercolors, and this will be the first time he will be exhibiting at JCTC’s art gallery. His work “Late Bloomers” fits the BORDERLESS theme, he says, because in this age of technology, a lot of people are left behind.
“Globalization has been really great for the kids who have technical abilities,” Singer says, “but there are a lot of species of human. People who are privileged enough to afford technology have an edge over those who don’t. A lot of people are being left behind in several ways. The homeless person is an extreme version of when you let yourself fall behind, and there are so many homeless people. It’s been a topic for me since the late 80s.”
Singer’s watercolors and metal sculptures seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. He says his visual depth of field changed after undergoing an eye operation. Before, Singer had limited peripheral vision, which saw him looking at the world through a narrow slit. After the surgery, his world opened up, he says, and now he sees and experiences things he never did before.
“I have a full field of vision,” Singer says “It has affected my work. I’m going to a different place. It’s a completely new vision. I’ve had to create new art based on a new vision, a new way of seeing the world. It’s pretty daunting to have this vision open up. It’s exhilarating.”
There’s another benefit, he says.
“I love to drive,” Singer laughs, “driving is my favorite thing.”
If you go
Fri, Feb. 3 through Thurs, March 23
BORDERLESS, a series of art, drama, dance
JERSEY CITY THEATER CENTER
339 Newark Ave, JC.