111 First Street:
From Paris to Jersey City, They Showed No Love
A film by Ironbound filmmaker and photojournalist Raul “Branko” Romero
October 18, 2014 Film Screening and artist’s talk. Two hours and 13 minutes.
“The drama surrounding the rise and literal fall of 111 First St. is a well-documented chapter in recent Jersey City history.” “A large and sprawling warehouse building blocks from the waterfront, 111 First St. provided about 130 studio and living space to dozens of Jersey City artists beginning in the 1980s when the city was decidedly less trendy than it is today, and when real estate was cheap. As developers began mining the waterfront in search of a Gold Coast, Lloyd Goldman, who owns the 111 site and another property at 110 First St., realized he was sitting on two of Jersey City’s most lucrative properties.”
“I wanted to film something about 111 First St. that would be a historical document. I wanted to record what it meant for the artists to be living there, working there together,” said Branko. “I wanted to make a connection between living in that building, having so many artists concentrated there, and the affect it had on their work. [W]hat it meant to have all these geniuses in one place.”
“Over the course of two years, from 2003 to 2004, he filmed interviews with several 111 artists in their studios and captured footage of them at work. There is even some footage of the Annual Artists’ Studio Tours, which grew out of the nexus of artists at 111 First St. The lest of the artists were finally forced out in 2005.”
E. Assata Wright, Hudson Reporter
“The 111 First Street building, was located at the Powerhouse Arts District, Jersey City or WALDO neighborhood zone. You could say that landlords and politicians had created this Art Zone, to fill the empty abandoned warehouses, with working artists. They couldn’t rent the spaces as apartments, and companies did not want to rent as warehouse or work space. When this land became valuable, the politicians and landlords, unceremoniously declared the artists persona non-grata. They removed the Art Zone and historic building designations and passed new ones to allow new upper class, residential construction.
First remove the artists, then the low income group, then the middle class, you get the idea. At the 111 First Street building, there were painters, sculptors, photographers, music studios, music bands, art galleries, printers, filmmakers, writers, poets, cabinet makers, etc.; some Americans and others from various countries. The building was demolished in 2007.
This movie is a historical document of a substantial concentration of artists in the same location-building, in the US.
In the history of mankind, this location compares to a few places, where so much artistic talent has been housed at the same place and time.”