Monmouth Arts Student blogger and intern Mary Nielsen is a senior at Communications High School in Wall. Mary sat down for an interview with Doug Ferrari about his work at the Shore Institute of the Contemporary Arts (SICA)
As one of the arts partners of the Monmouth County Arts Council, the Shore Institute of the Contemporary Arts (SICA) is a gallery at 610 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park. I recently met with Doug Ferrari, the Executive Director at SICA, to learn more about what goes on there.
When I arrived at SICA Doug was talking with two Rutgers students who are setting up a show with their class. It was interesting to see him in action, especially when one of the students attempted to walk on the gangway in a pair of heels for an act she is planning. It just goes to show what will happen when art is involved.
We sat down in the café for our interview, where there is still just a bit left of construction going on for the finalization of the quaint seating area. While it still smells of fresh paint, there is the soothing scent of wood gloss fighting to permeate the air. He informed me that when they finish installing the sink in the café that they will resume their open-mic nights, which were popular when they were housed in Long Branch. Doug is particularly excited about using the court yard in the near future when the summer months prevail and bring with them pleasant weather.
He talked about SICA’s history, from their start up in 2000 official opening in 2004 in Long Branch. He chose Monmouth County because of the dearth of contemporary art galleries in New Jersey. Doug studied contemporary art; it is what he enjoys, so he has made it his life to keep SICA vital. Because of today’s quick-paced culture, there is always something new to present, and never a dull moment at the gallery. The constant interaction with the arts and artists keeps things fun.
The typical day at SICA is usually busy. On the day Doug and I talked he had already looked into permits for the café area, and talked with artists about weekly events. During my time there two separate groups of people had come in to talk with him about upcoming events they were planning at SICA.
After moving to Asbury the sale of artwork has become more prevalent at SICA, and the gallery even receives a share of the profit. The move to Asbury was a good one. Not only is there more purchase of art, but there is more interaction with the community. The town is aware that art is an integral part of their commerce, and the foot traffic helps bring in more money. People love to get out and look at their surroundings.
Most shows at SICA are curated and artists are scouted for a year or two in advance. This is because the curated shows are all specific in their focus and it takes time to search for those with such similar interests. Open juried shows are held yearly that anyone can enter, along with shows specifically held for local High School artists. Doug has enjoyed watching how all yearly shows change from year to year.
I asked Doug if he had any specific tips out there for artists who had yet to burst into the art scene or be noticed. He simply advised “Keep getting your work out there. Shows are good. You never know when someone is going to see your work and get interested, and jurors and curators always talk to each other.” He further added that when sending photos of your work to places that artists should keep in mind the quality of their photos, if the quality isn’t high enough it will only look bad when it is distributed.
My final question of the afternoon was what Doug would classify as art. I’ll admit, my curiosity got the best of me on this one. How would someone who ran a gallery define art as? His response was pleasing. “I wouldn’t! Let the critics fight about it. It’s more about defining what is good art and what’s not… Good art is extraordinary,”