Artist Mike Longo at Hoboken Museum
Local artist entertains visually and audibly
In “Industrial Strength,” Artist Michael Longo Admires Grace, Workmanship in Bridges, Piers, Smokestacks of Hudson County
Artist and his brother will spin vinyl from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s at the opening reception for “Industrial Strength,” Saturday, Sept. 19, from 2 – 5 p.m.
“When painter Michael Longo was studying at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art, his professor and mentor James McGinley sent him and his fellow students out into the Newark environs to paint whatever inspired them. Longo felt drawn again and again to the massive industrial structures crisscrossing the landscape around the city, over the Hackensack River and around the Meadowlands swamp.
Several large paintings of these enduring fixtures in the Hudson County landscape will be on display in his new show, “Industrial Strength: Paintings and Drawings by Michael Longo,” which will open on Saturday, Sept. 19, in the Upper Gallery of the Hoboken Historical Museum, with a reception from 2 – 5 p.m. The show will last through Sunday, Nov. 1.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the bridges,” Longo says. “They’re like a giant erector set. As a kid, I was always taking stuff apart and putting it back together: cars, toys, anything my dad would let me.” He admires their classic, hand-crafted solidity, and says, “You can see that things from this era (the early 20th century) were made with pride. New bridges are soulless.” His painting style captures the bridges’ solid and simultaneously airy nature, often showing them rising isolated from the barren landscape, silhouetted against the sky. He adds that a friend of his put it best: “‘They’re like big churches for a forgotten landscape.’”
Longo, who grew up in Lake Hiawatha, N.J., has lived in Hoboken since 1996 and has been visiting the Mile Square City since the 1980s. He likes the city’s industrial roots and arts community, and he works out of a studio in the former Neumann Leathers factory complex. Other favorite subjects include cranes along the waterfront, views of older buildings, often from an oblique angle through a window, and occasionally people. A recent line of work has been executed on bourbon bottle labels, which he preps with gesso, like a canvas, and paints right on the bottles.
When he’s not painting, Longo tends bar at some of the watering holes around town that continue to attract some of the old-timers and denizens of Hoboken’s ’70s and ’80s arts and music scene, and spins records at bars and parties. Longo and his brother Pat will deejay the opening reception for Industrial Strength on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 2 – 5 p.m. His music collection favors the classics as well, with more than 5,000 78s, 45s and LPs from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. The reception is free.
Longo’s work has been displayed in several shows in Hudson County and New York City, including Chelsea Market and Art on the Street in New York City, in 1998 and 1999; at Pro Arts in Jersey City; several Artists Studio Tours in Hoboken; and solo shows at Bama Gallery and Maxwell’s in Hoboken. Last year, his works were included in the 31st Small Works Show at Washington Square’s East Galleries NYC.”