June 2, 2021

ArtYard Opens New Art Center in Frenchtown

NEW ART CENTER: ArtYard has opened its new 21,000-square-foot facility in Frenchtown, which features two floors of exhibition space and a 162-seat state-of-the-art theater.

ArtYard, a nonprofit contemporary art center and residency, has opened its newly completed 21,000-square-foot home with two floors of exhibition space, and a 162-seat state-of-the-art theater. This interdisciplinary art center is located at 13 Front Street in Frenchtown.

With its new art center, ArtYard aims to create a welcoming communal resource and deploy the power of art to unsettle, engage, bridge divides, and occasion moments of arresting beauty.

Three major exhibitions per year anchor a program of related offerings in theater, poetry, dance, music, and film, as well as idiosyncratic communal celebrations such as ArtYard’s Hatch, a New Orleans-inspired parade of giant birds. An artists residency program is also in development and will launch in 2022 with an inaugural collaboration with the Baryshnikov Art Center in New York.

Architects Ed Robinson and William Welch collaborated on the design of the new building, embedding a sophisticated modern art center within a structure that respects the architectural idioms of a once industrial town, at the site of the former egg hatchery, Kerr’s Chickeries. ArtYard’s Managing Director Kandy Ferree, with assistance from architectural advisor Bob Hsu, managed the project with builders William S. Cumby.

“The opening of ArtYard’s new space will be the most significant economic catalyst Frenchtown has seen in decades,” said Mayor Brad Myhre. “It will serve as a treasured arts and cultural resource for our community, Hunterdon County, and New Jersey, attracting both visitors and permanent residents that will in turn benefit local businesses, restaurants and the overall vitality of Frenchtown,”

ArtYard originally launched in 2016, announcing its presence by hatching a flock of giant bird puppets out of a 14-foot-tall welded steel egg at the then derelict former egg hatchery. Since this inaugural Hatch parade, ArtYard has operated out of a nearby warehouse in Frenchtown at 62A Trenton Avenue, offering programs ranging from a locally composed chamber opera to an exhibition of works by neurodiverse artists from progressive art studios across the country, a solo show by the Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes featuring a site-specific cloud made of wishes gathered from communities in Frenchtown and Peru, and poetry events that pair local poets with nationally recognized poets including Toi Derricotte, Ross Gay, Patrick Rosal, and Aracelis Girmay.

“We named ourselves ArtYard. We wanted to be an ordinary public place, a yard in lieu of a museum, where art is invented, ideas exchanged, relationships forged. We wanted to demystify art, to invite different communities to collaborate, and we committed ourselves to the notion that creative collaboration is a critical component of civic life,” said Executive Director Jill Kearney, describing Kearney and ArtYard Artistic Director Elsa Mora’s vision for ArtYard at its founding.

ArtYard’s inaugural year in the new space will feature two major art exhibitions: “Girl You Want,” on view through August 1, a meditation on the gendering and racialization of girlhood curated by Bennington College professor and art historian J. Vanessa Lyon, and “Going to the Meadow,” a collaborative installation curated by Ulla Warchol and Robin Hill, in which teams of artists working with the same original materials will reinvent the exhibition repeatedly over a three-month span. The coming year will also feature an outdoor installation of sculptures by South African artist Ledelle Moe, and a program of artists talks, performances, workshops, and films predicated on the theme of “A Year of Mending.”

For more information, visit artyard.org.