Jersey City Calendar by Artists Helps Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

Jersey City’s latest calendar boys and girls aren’t necessarily buff, shirtless men or sexy pinup women, but they have visuals even more stunning to offer.

When Sandy hit, recent JC transplant Ingrid Spangler knew she had to do something to help the community.

“The first weekend after the storm, I walked up to Pathmark from my house to try to get some food and was very surprised because it was one thing to see pictures on the web or on television, but another to walk down a block where people have furniture and rugs and boxes of papers and possessions out on the sidewalk,” says Spangler, who lives Downtown and is a photographer and collage artist. “I started thinking, this is my new home and I want to do something to help.”

With help from her friend, masking tape artist Kayt Hester, Spangler got several local artists together to create a calendar that will benefit hurricane relief efforts. “We thought a calendar would be a great idea because it would involve 12 people that we knew would have great images and who would help sell calendars,” she says.

The calendar includes work by Spangler and Hester as well as Dylan Egon (whose work is pictured below), Robert Piersanti, Matt Cap (also known as Matthew Caputo), Instigatorzine founder Narciso Espiritu Jr. (whose work is pictured above), Christine DaCruz, Beth Achenbach, _gaia collective founder Doris Cacoilo, Norm Kirby (whose work is the homepage preview image for this article) and Agnieszka Wszolkowska.

Most of the contributors are Jersey City residents, but August’s artist, Joe Velez, lives in Hoboken. He did, however, grow up in the Jersey City Heights and is still involved with the JC arts scene. During the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour, he curated a show at the Tenmarc building, “The Artist at Work.” He has also shown in multiple local exhibits and runs figure drawing sessions at the Jersey City Art School.

“I’m proud to see how we’re helping Jersey City recover from the storm and being part of this calendar gives me a way to join the effort,” Velez says.

Espiritu, who lives in the Heights, agrees and says he considered the calendar an “urgent” project that called for his best and most recent work. While he’s best known as the founder of Jersey City’s only literary and art magazine, Espiritu is also a talented illustrator who can often be seen lost in his pocket sketchbook at local events when he isn’t busy being an art “Instigator.”

Recently, he has been one of many artists in the community donating work to local causes. For example, he donated the same piece he submitted for the calendar to _gaia’s tenth anniversary silent auction fundraiser at City Hall, where it raised $80. He donated another piece to Art House Productions’ Sandy benefit JC ReBuild earlier this month. Espiritu says there are many ways artists can help out.

“Aside from participating in events like art auctions, artists can simply volunteer with various organizations like Jersey City Sandy Recovery and other national agencies that are doing everything they can to help communities devastated by Sandy,” he says. “We know how to build things, just like we know how to make things.”

Overall, Spangler calls the lineup a “lovely cross-section” of what Jersey City has to offer.

“There are many great artists in Jersey City — much more than just twelve!” says Hester. “It was very difficult choosing, but we knew we wanted six women and six men. We chose Jersey City veterans and some exciting new names as well.”

Some of Hester’s favorite images is Egon’s image, which starts things off in January, as well as Kirby’s (which is the calendar’s cover), and Piersanti’s. Spangler, on the other hand, couldn’t even pick a favorite.

“Every month looks amazing and every artist involved really knocked it out of the ballpark with this project,” says Hester. “This calendar is a great way to have a small collection of some of your favorite local artists all in one package.”

Spangler agreed. “They really stepped up and sent their best stuff,” she says, adding that she hopes the calendar will show the community’s ability to bond together and more. “This is really a testament to the spirit of community here as well as the diversity of the art scene.”

The calendar is just one of many artistic projects that have been organized in response to Hurricane Sandy, with many cultural events already having raised thousands for local relief organizations.

For example, local artist Cara Christopher and Mike McNamara of 4th Street Arts changed gears while planning their City Hall art show “Sacred Geometry,” which is slated for December.

“We were very inspired by the generosity, compassion, and spirit of friendship that was shown by the Jersey City community in the days and weeks following Sandy,” Christopher told JCI earlier this month. “We felt very grateful to not only have made it through that with our livelihood intact, but also very fortunate to be part of such an inspiring community. It was the least we could do to show our support and compassion for the people in our community who may not have been so fortunate.”

She added that the art community has power that can be channeled to help the entire city get back on its feet. “Artists are a very important force in building and uplifting a community. When we as artists come together to help one another and help those less fortunate, we are a very strong and vital force in strengthening our community.”

The Jersey City Artists Calendar is $22 can be bought online here. Customers can choose their starting month, but Hester recommend buying calendars that begin in January since those starting in December may not arrive until much of the month has already passed. Sales will go to the North Jersey Red Cross.

Photos courtesy of Ingrid Spangler

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.