Jenn Hampton, Curator and Co-owner of Parlor Gallery on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park believes “Art is more an experience than a business.” 

That vision is the guiding principle of Jenn’s work. “We wanted to open a gallery for locals to experience art,” she said “I grew up in a town that had no culture and so I wanted to curate exhibits that many locals may not have access to outside of a large urban environment.”

Jenn Hampton – Curator & Co-owner of Parlor Gallery

Jenn and Artist/Co-Owner Jill Ricci opened Parlor Gallery in 2009. Prior to that, Jenn was an event planner for The Asbury Lanes and owner/curator of Crybaby Gallery on Cookman. 

“I’m inspired by art. Art makes the world go round. For me, it’s my inspiration, because art can be created from positive or negative places.”

The current exhibit, Ladies to the Front, is on view from June 17 until August 1 and features work by local and international female artists of all ages and experiences. The exhibition features original and unique works of art in a variety of media, including: painting, sculpture, photography, installation art, digital art, and mixed media. 

Jenn explains how she and Jill conceived of the show during the pandemic. 

“Throughout that time, we talked a lot about women’s rights. There were — and still are — many disturbing things happening. We wanted to showcase the unique and diverse perspectives that women bring to the world.”

Throughout that time, we talked a lot about women’s rights. There were — and still are — many disturbing things happening. We wanted to showcase the unique and diverse perspectives that women bring to the world.

Jenn Hampton

Jill has four mosaic and mixed media pieces in the show inspired by her many trips to Morocco. Jill describes her art as exploring “the places between high art and popular culture, text and image, figuration, and abstraction, past and present, and two and three-dimensional.” 

I Should Know Better (Mosaic/Mixed Media) Credit: Jill Ricci

Caroline DeFelice, a twenty-six-year year old ceramist from Central New Jersey, is one of the youngest contributors to the show. Caroline describes her current ceramic and sculptural work to be a discussion of female roles: as figures of controversy and embodiments of divinity, recipients of awe and aberration, and objects of abuse and altars of adornment.

Ceramic by Caroline De Felice Credit: Brenda Hamlet

Caroline says that this show and the many others curated by Jenn Hampton are extremely important for local artists. “Growing up in a quasi-metropolitan area, myself and other local artists have hungered for opportunities to show work, to paint on walls and, ultimately, to keep our practices alive. Jenn has solidified Asbury Park as a new capital for the arts.”

Lifelong artist Carol Magnatta agrees. “Jenn is a champion. Her energy is moving Art forward in Asbury and moving the culture of South Jersey forward. Highlighting Ladies to a place of integrity is inspiring.”

Carol has five pieces in the show, including oil on canvas, oil on paper and pastels of female figures. Carol has been practicing life drawing for thirty-years. 

Jenn says her main aims for the show and gallery are “to provide a venue for both established local artists and new emerging artists who’ve never exhibited, including younger international talents.”

The places between high art and popular culture, text and image, figuration, and abstraction, past and present, and two and three-dimensional.

Jill Ricci, describing her art
Trouble in Paradise Credit: Erica Rose Levine

The diversity of perspectives on view is particularly evident in MyLoan Dinh’s two monoprints both titled, “Give a Phúc.” MyLoan was born in Saigon, Vietnam. MyLoan’s artistic statement describes her work as drawing from “the shuffling, cross-cultural entanglements that comprise my experiences as a woman of color and former war refugee.” 

Give a Phúc (Monoprint) Credit: MyLoan Dinh

Equally as interesting is the acrylic and oil painting on paper titled, “Trouble in Paradise” by Erica Rose Levine. Erica was born in NYC, attending the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and the School of Visual Arts. Erica describes her art to be inspired by “women’s use of decoration and beauty as power.” 

Lucinda Grange, an extreme adventure photographer, takes herself and her models to the highest heights, “challenging the viewer to reconsider the environment they find themselves in.” Lucinda has three photographs in the show. “Dancing with the Stars” is of particular interest as the model, a lead dancer for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, projects strength and power whilst balanced on a ladder atop a NYC rooftop. 

To see additional work curated by Jenn Hampton, visit Monmouth Museum (June 25-September 3) to view ‘Out of The Park’ showcasing the work of the artists, gallerists/entrepreneurs who help define the cultural renaissance of Asbury Park. The exhibit includes work by Jill Ricci, Porkchop, Patrick Schiavino, Brittany James, Tom & Lois White, Bradley Hoffer, and Jason Stumpf.

In the last few years, Jenn has begun to curate other venues, such as the Wooden Walls Public Art Project (in collaboration with Madison Marquette) for the Asbury Park Boardwalk, pop-up exhibits, and has participated in art fairs such as SCOPE Miami and NYC. Jenn is also responsible for opening the Carousel as a space for showing work and running workshops for people of all ages.

“Peace in Recline” (Oil on Paper) Credit: Carol Magnatta

“I’m inspired by the Asbury underdog spirit, the rebelliousness that lies beneath the surface. I see myself as more of a philanthropist offering an inspirational experience to everyone.”

Jenn says, “When we first started out, I never thought that two women owning a gallery was unusual. I mean, everything in Asbury is unusual. However, when we went to other shows, we quickly found that there were not many female gallery owners.”

Brenda Hamlet is a journalist covering trends in the media and arts. Brenda lives in Asbury Park and teaches writing at Kean University. Her contributions will focus on the state of the Arts in Asbury Park.

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