Almost a year ago while plugging away at The Warehouse, one of the baristas pointed out Charles Kessler and asked me if I knew him. At the time I was embarrassed to say that I did not. The barista shook his head and said, “If you are going to blog about art, you should know Charles.” Right after Charles got his coffee he approached me and introduced himself and said that he enjoyed my blog and that he himself was a blogger. He gave me his card and off he went. As soon as he walked out the door I went on his site and spent the next hour catching up on some of his art posts. Charles is an incredibly talented art writer, and for him to say that he enjoyed reading ChicpeaJC was really flattering. I knew it would be only a matter of time before we crossed paths again.
Two weeks ago, I received an email from lady boss/owner of the Village West Gallery, Robinson Holloway inviting me to a reception showcasing Charles Kessler’s work; 30 years of painting benefitting Art House Productions. In fact 100% of the proceeds are going to this amazing organizations!! ChicpeaJC loves Art House.
I emailed Robinson back and asked her to set up an interview with Charles so I could see his work and get his story before the opening reception happening tonight. I’ve been to the Village West Gallery during the Studio Art Tour and I absolutely love this gallery. It is the perfect location for Charles’s work. I had a blast getting to know him! And to all of you who make fun of my writing, both him and Robinson said they think I am authentic and they love it. If that is not a stamp of approval I don’t know what is. Thanks guys :)
What is your name? Charles Kessler
What do you do? Right now I’m blogging about art, the blog is called the Left Bank Art Blog.
Why left bank? Because Jersey City is sort of the left bank, it has its own connotations.
But you’re also an artist? I haven’t made art for last seven to eight years… ever since the 111 first Street came down actually….
I heard about 111 first Street it was an artist community right? Yeah at its peak it was over 250 artists, that was 10 years ago.
So you stopped painting since then? Yeah I was really depressed that I lost my community, but I was wrong about that, there are still artists in Jersey City, and I isolated myself at that time. I started blogging as a critic, and then I made art for 45 years straight without writing… I did not consciously quit but when I started blogging I really loved it… I got involved with Buschwick, which is really a collegial supportive community so the two sort of went together. I felt part of a community again. Now I am feeling again the love of Jersey City and the sense of community… probably because of Art House. Mainly because of Art house….
111 was such a center, such a community, I loved the artists… Artists through the ages have always been a part of communities even in the Middle Ages. The monks that hung out in the monasteries and there were people who traveled monastery to monastery. When I thought I lost my community I felt isolated and that’s when I started my blog about 6 years ago.
What do you like about blogging? Well, in contrast to painting which is really lonely… Now I get to go out and talk to people and that’s kind of neat. I always had a lot of ideas about art and talking about it to people. Now I get to write it down and clarify my ideas and I am also able to take photos easily… which is really fun.
It’s a combination of being creative and also writing and meeting people and being friendly. In writing there’s a lot of problem solving with writing, I used to write for Art America and it was like work for me, now it’s fun and relaxing.
Can you tell me about this exhibit? Yeah, this is the oldest work, this was made in 1979, it was a part of a larger piece… it was shown in Los Angeles at one time and people were doing minimal abstraction and other cool works, so this caused quite a stir because it was the beginning of new imagery. Then I started doing similar work but over time, it became more focused and abstract . I got exactly what I wanted to do… I’ve always been interested in work that is experienced over time and started off by making very complicated things that you can’t take it all at once you got to look at it more the one time or else it will be chaos, and I also like the physicality of the object…
How do you feel about this being 30 years of your work? After not painting for a while, I forgot about my work kind of seeing it up it really feels good.
Up until now where were all of the pieces? They were in my basement.
When did you decide that you finally wanted it this out? I’ve always been conflicted with selling them, so I traded, gave some away, people will buy them from dealers but I had trouble selling it… not that I didn’t think it was worth it honestly it was the opposite. I think it was worth more than what people wanted to pay for it.
Do you want to start painting again? I don’t think so, I’m going to stick to blogging… what the solution was having a show and I’m donating all of the commissions to Art house.
Wow. No commision.
I love Art House. Christine is an Angel. She really is, she lights up a room.
How long have you been in Jersey City? Since 82 so that’s about 33 years.
Do you have a favorite Jersey City hangout spot? I like La Conguita. I spend $15 on dinner and the food and people are great. I also like Dullboy.
How do you feel things have changed in the past couple of years? Generally I like the change…when we first moved here and I always feel comfortable I always felt safe…. all these new restaurants are great, we were happy when McDonalds moved in (laughs).
100% of every sale goes to Art House Productions.