Home LifestyleCareer elevator: Jersey City Art Studios for Local Creatives

elevator: Jersey City Art Studios for Local Creatives

by Ada Rene
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As the most diverse city in the country, Jersey City is known for its ever-growing art community. Ranging from galleries to exhibitions, residents and visitors have a variety of options to choose from when seeking local art. And elevator, a grouping of studios located in downtown Jersey City, provides artists with an opportunity to display their work and help expand the flourishing creative space in our city. The Hoboken Girl spoke with Shamona Stokes, Director of elevator, about the concept behind the studios, the art community in Jersey City, and how readers who would like to showcase their work can reach out. Read on to learn more about elevator, located at 135 Erie Street in Jersey, to see why you should give the spaces a visit.

elevator jersey city

(Photo credit: @elevatorjc, Credit of Carly Silverman)

The Hoboken Girl: For readers new to elevator, can you share background on the workspace?

Shamona Stokes: The studios at 135 Erie Street, Jersey City, are now “elevator” because we help to elevate the creativity of our creatives. elevator occupies three floors of the former dormitories of St. Francis School of Nursing. I was hired almost a year ago by SILVERMAN to help move the space in a new direction.

Read More: This Local Artist Captures Hoboken + Jersey City Throughout the Years

HG: How did you cultivate the idea for elevator?

SS: Our tagline is “Studios for Creative of All Kinds,” and we try to foster the all-inclusive ethos that embraces creativity in all its forms. Our spaces are not just for fine artists; we welcome a wide spectrum of makers including designers, musicians, craftspeople, photographers, jewelry makers, and small business owners. As the Director of elevator and an artist myself, I feel that creativity comes in all shapes and sizes (and not just in the traditional artist package). For example, we have a number of small business owners in the building who have left their full-time jobs to pursue their passion projects. How they approach their business decisions is very imaginative, and it’s inspiring to observe the aesthetic choices they make to brand a line of chocolates or layout the interior design of a storefront.

elevator studios

(Photo credit: @elevatorjc)

HG: elevator is open to artists, musicians, + businesses. Does the workspace focus on local talent? Are artists from other regions encouraged to display their work?

SS: We do have a very local community-based feel, but that came about organically. It’s convenient to be able to walk or take the PATH train to your studio, so many of our members are Jersey City residents. However, we also have a number of artists who commute in from Brooklyn or Manhattan because they love the environment here. Our studios are bright and cozy, the members are friendly, and there is a warmth and quirkiness to the building that can sometimes be lacking elsewhere.


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A post shared by elevator (@elevatorjc)

HG: 2020 was an unexpected year for local businesses. How has the pandemic impacted managing a creative space?

SS: The need for human connection was greatly highlighted when it was taken away from us during the pandemic. When I started working here last November, it was right after the height of COVID-19, and many people were understandably hesitant to go to group events like open studios.

During my first week, I went door to door and introduced myself to everyone. I wanted to get to know each person and build a small level of trust and then, bit by bit, members began going to the monthly open studios that I was organizing. More quickly than expected, people started getting to know their neighbors, and as the months went on, they began collaborating on projects together and creating connections with neighbors and local businesses outside the studio. As the phrase “no man is an island” illustrates, you are more successful together than alone.

HG: How has the community in Jersey City made an impact in the creative space at elevator?

SS: The local community has been wonderful. Our neighbors within Hamilton Park and all around Jersey City have been very supportive of our open studios. Without them and their engagement, the halls would feel empty. We rely on local residents to come to our events and support creatives like Love the Clutter, who opened up a pop-up home decor shop just around the corner, or Makers Meals who creates small events that explore the relationship between food and community. Many of our members are not working in a bubble, but rather rely on dialogue, exchange, and collaboration. But equally, if an artist wants to hunker down in their studio and remain focused on their work in solitude, that is also valued.

elevator outdoor

(Photo credit: @elevatorjc)

HG: How does elevator participate in local art events + crawls?

SS: We host monthly open studios typically on Thursdays and participate in community events like JC Fridays and JCAST. We also have a wonderful print room, “JC Print Room,” run by printmaker Bruno Nadalin, that hosts bi-monthly “Drink and Draw” figure drawing sessions on Wednesdays along with printmaking workshops and classes that are open to the public.


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A post shared by elevator (@elevatorjc)

We also recently worked with the art studios at 150 Bay and Director of Art Fair 14c, Robinson Holloway, to create our first Art Crawl. This inaugural event was very popular! Visitors were encouraged to visit both studios, elevator and 150 Bay, and check out local businesses along the walking route to receive discounts on cocktails and food offerings. We’ll be participating in our second round of Art Crawl on November 17th, so please come visit our studios for a fun night out.

HG: For readers interested in visiting or displaying their work, how can they reach out to elevator?

SS: We are always happy to meet new creatives that are interested in joining our studios. You can email me at shamona@silvermanbuilding.com to arrange a tour of the space or you can DM us on our Instagram account: @elevatorjc. We also occasionally create calls for artwork for group shows. The best way to submit work for those is to follow our Instagram where we post all the local events and happenings. Our new website is also in the works so stay tuned for that.

elevator kitchen

(Photo credit: @elevatorjc)

See More: Grounds For Sculpture: A Must-See Outdoor Art Museum

HG: What is your personal favorite piece of art that you have created?

SS: I recently joined forces with another artist in the building, Rebecca Johnson, and local gallery DEEP SPACE (Keith VanPelt and Jenna Geiger) along with a few other non-Jersey city artists to create an art installation room for the SPRING/BREAK Art Show in the city. We worked on this collaboratively all summer long in our studios at elevator. There were many components to the project which included ceramics, painting, lighting, and interior design — it was a lot! We ended up being very proud of the room we created, which was a multi-layered, multi-sensory experience, highlighting the joy and beauty of collaboration.

elevator studios are located at 135 Erie Street in Jersey City. You can keep up with upcoming events, artist features and highlights, and updates on elevator’s Instagram. Stay tuned for elevator’s website launch as well.

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