From a Moving Van to an Arts Complex

From a Moving Van to an Arts Complex

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Works from Ray Smith’s “Here/Now” retrospective at Mana Contemporary, an art complex in Jersey City.

Published: May 16, 2013
JERSEY CITY — MANA Contemporary might be one of the art world’s best-kept secrets. From the outside, at the moment, it looks like what its shell actually is: a cluster of warehouse and factory buildings left over from a grimy industrial age, tucked into the heart of this city.
Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

From left, Eugene Lemay, the chief executive of Mana Contemporary; Yigal Ozeri, a co-founder; and Shai Baitel, vice president for strategy.

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Michael Zansky’s show “Giants and Dwarfs,” in a 5,000-square-foot gallery at Mana Contemporary.

But if Eugene Lemay has his way — and as both a businessman and an artist, he has a combination of financial backing and single-mindedness that makes it seem possible — Mana will be an irresistible arts destination within a couple of years.
“It’s not a dream,” Mr. Lemay, Mana’s chief executive, said matter-of-factly. “It’s going to happen.”
So far one building in the complex has been mostly rebuilt to house dozens of light, high-ceilinged artists’ studios, as well as all the ancillary services an artist could want, including a supply shop and framing, packing, conservation, restoration and storage. There are also music rehearsal rooms, and a dance rehearsal space, shared by Karole Armitage’s and Shen Wei’s troupes, with a glass wall so visitors can watch dancers at work.
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