Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street
I went into this book expecting to learn about the artists who inhabited this run-down factory building in Jersey City, the type of art they created, and their influence on building an art community in a largely working-class city. Only one of those really happened–the latter. Instead, this book is more of an urban studies examination. Yes, there is a look at how this building became a magnet for artists in the New York area who could not afford the high rents of New York but still wanted to be connected by a short train ride to it. But it is also more of a look at how a city tried to turn its waterfront from decaying factory buildings to something different and new. The author spends a lot of time on government proposals for the building and its complicated ownership as it was being torn down and the artists displaced.
It is hard to view this book as an art book; little mention is made of any artists except in the aggregate and in the occasional quote from one that the author interviewed. It is an interesting history of late 20th-century industrial areas, but do not go in thinking you will learn any art history.
Fordham University Press
David J. Goodwin • D. W. Gibson, Foreword