Dear Editor,

Jersey City stands at a pivotal moment—a chance to blossom into a global hub of artistic excellence. Tris McCall's recent article, “Here’s What a Jersey City Alternative to the Costly ‘Pompidou X’ Might Look Like Inside,” vividly reflects his passion for local artists, and his eloquent reviews are undeniably among our city's finest cultural assets. 

While I won't dissect his whimsical curatorial Valentine of an imagined museum tour, I couldn't help but notice that the artists he references already find exhibition opportunities throughout our city. Instead, let's explore the profound potential of the proposed Centre Pompidou x Jersey City not merely as a showcase, but as a beacon of excellence in museum practices and audience experience.

A museum is more than an art-filled space; it embodies a mission, vision, values, and philosophy. Transparent leadership and a robust organizational structure are essential for public trust and accountability. The Centre Pompidou, with its stellar reputation, presents an opportunity to address these crucial aspects, filling a significant need in Jersey City.

The legacy of Jersey City arts at its best is revealed in what artists have created for themselves. We must acknowledge 111 First Street electric and beloved until fallen by seductive real estate values. Props to the music and art filled hive of activity that was 58 Gallery. We’ve seen other venues come and go, but each possessed their own unique, vibrant energy.

Where Jersey City has fallen down is in attempts at more institutional responses to artist’s needs, the community at large, and the potential for a broader audience. Some local arts enthusiasts have spearheaded commendable events and organizations in an attempt to harness the independent energy of the arts in Jersey City. The art fair 14C, the studio spaces at 150 Bay Street, and the Jersey City Arts Council among them. While their earnest efforts are commendable, these initiatives have grappled with challenges such as a lack of clear vision, direction, expert planning, and transparency. The merging of 14C and the Jersey City Art and Studio tour remains a complex matter to untangle. 150 Bay Street faced shocking rent hikes to artists, lack of clarity of leadership and proper advocacy for the artist residents, while the Jersey City Arts Council still remains an enigmatic organization seemingly ever trying to right itself. Jersey City has the opportunity to extract foundational lessons in arts leadership, development, and execution from the Centre Pompidou. 

A museum should be a dynamic hub for lifelong learning, with engaging programs and interpretive exhibits contributing to a rich cultural experience. While we may currently lack details about the Centre Pompidou's financial plan (the dubious numbers that have been reported seem designed to shock and distress rather than illuminate), its renowned commitment to excellence and sustainability hints at a promising future.

The relentless, creeping provincialism which focuses on the last exit before we reach Manhattan can only stymy possibilities. By embracing the transformative potential of the Centre Pompidou x Jersey City collaboration, we have a unique opportunity not only to create an impeccably crafted museum but also to elevate our city's cultural identity, foster international dialogue, and set a benchmark for excellence. Let's seize this moment to shape a vibrant and enduring cultural legacy for Jersey City that resonates globally.

Interdisciplinary Artist; Co-founder, Curious Matter; NJ State Council of the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship Recipient, Member American Alliance of Museums