Northern New Jersey: The Trendy New Hot Spot For Innovative Contemporary Art?

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Matt Ross, owner of One River Gallery in Englewood, New Jersey, seeks to introduce important artists to Garden State enthusiasts and collectors.

"From a location perspective, opening up a gallery in northern New Jersey makes total sense, and we plan on showing some incredible work from talented visionaries who are distinguishing themselves in the international art world.”

Contemporary artists who want to share their creations with New York-area aficionados and buyers have a new venue in Englewood, New Jersey that’s eager to promote, present, and support their work.

Yes, you read it right. Art in Englewood. In Bergen County. In New Jersey.

“When you think of northern New Jersey, the first images that come to mind aren’t exactly art galleries,” says One River Gallery owner Matt Ross. “They’re usually caricatures of the state from ‘The Sopranos’ or ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ or ‘Jersey Shore’. But Bergen County is home to over one million people, it has the same income demographics as Beverly Hills, and it’s minutes away from Manhattan. From a location perspective, opening up a gallery here makes total sense, and we plan on showing some incredible work from talented visionaries who are distinguishing themselves in the international art world.”

One River Gallery opened in September on North Dean Street, a bustling yet quaint boulevard that’s populated by upscale shops, boutiques, and eateries. It’s 8 minutes from the George Washington Bridge and 7 minutes down the road from the world headquarters of CNBC and the American headquarters of Unilever, LG, Ferrari, and Maserati. The town of Englewood is also home to the prestigious Dwight-Englewood School, a private preparatory academy that boasts such notable alumni as Mira Sorvino, Brooke Shields, Anthony Bourdain, and Daphne Oz.

One River’s inaugural exhibition debuted in September 2012 and was entitled “Two River”. The show celebrated the work of artists who live and work in Brooklyn, NY.

“Brooklyn is arguably the art-making capital of the world today, and we thought that if we’re going to connect New Jersey to what’s current and important, lets jump ‘two rivers’ away to where it’s all happening,” says Ross. The show featured important mid-career artists such as Dawn Clements (featured in the 2010 Whitney Biennial) and Deborah Brown, along with a grouping of emerging artists.

“Englewood’s response to ‘Two River’, and to the gallery itself, has been a combination of joy and disbelief,” explains Ross. “Residents and visitors to the area love the fact that a gallery with such impressive offerings in a New York-style space is so accessible, but at the same time, they can’t quite believe that a gallery with such impressive offerings in a New York-style space is so accessible! We’re definitely building curiosity and buzz, and generating excitement.”

The development of One River Gallery - along with its associated One River School of Art and Design - has been a two-year project for Ross, who has a diverse history as a proven tastemaker and an arts educator. He’s been a senior media executive and has built successful radio station brands in major markets across the country. He was also the founding CEO of School of Rock, a chain of performance-based music education programs, which is currently in 100 locations worldwide and is the #1 branded leader in music education for kids ages 7 to 17 in the United States.

“I’ve developed a personal interest in contemporary art over the last 10 years, and I’ve become a collector and serious student over the past few years,” says Ross. "I thought about opening a gallery in New York, but I realized two things: New York doesn't need another gallery today and there’s a huge cultural void on this side of the river. These conclusions stimulated the idea for creating One River Gallery."

The Gallery’s upcoming group exhibition is entitled “Love”, which opens November 11th and runs through December 21st. “Love” features abstract paintings by eleven artists, and is presented by Art Blog Art Blog and curated by Stephen Truax.

“We’re thrilled to have Art Blog Art Blog involved with One River Gallery,” says Ross. “It’s my vision to break barriers and build an authentic art space by presenting the works of innovators like Chris Martin and Mark Handelman, who will be featured in ‘Love’, and we’re clearly on our way to achieving that goal.”

In his quest to present the most inventive and unique contemporary art exhibits west of New York City, Ross will bring the work of both mid-career artists as well as emerging artists to One River Gallery. Given the gallery’s New Jersey address, would he consider showing the works of “Jersey Shore” star Jenni “JWOWW” Farley, who was an art major at New York Institute of Technology and received a “not half bad” review from Manhattan gossip site Gawker?

“I’m not sure if her oeuvre – though diverse and interesting – is a proper fit with the essence of what we’re doing, but her effort is commendable,” says Ross.

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Matt Ross
One River Gallery
(201) 266-5244
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