Montclair: A World of Art

Art captures moments, tells us stories, lifts the soul.  Montclair is brimming with it.

In the words of Lora Urbanelli, Montclair Art Museum Director Emerita, “Art is everywhere, as much in nature and industrial design as at the tip of a painter’s brush.  It enriches our lives.”  In Montclair, this is not only true in a poetic sense. It is explicit and factual. The Montclair Master Plan, which guides decisions about growth and conservation, requires art to be included in all new development.  This could be anything from public art, indoor or outdoor, to art space. In the walkable city of Montclair, visitors and residents alike encounter art in public places – in the landscape of their daily lives.

The indoor experience of art is also in great abundance, beginning with the world-renowned Montclair Art Museum.  Current Executive Director Ira Wagner notes that the museum was among the first to collect American Art. Founded in 1914, it is home to more than 12,000 objects, including the works of Montclair artist George Inness who lived in the town in the 1880’s; the museum has his landscapes on permanent display. It is one example of how the museum looks across time that it houses ancient Native American artifacts as well as the work of contemporary Native American artists.  Visitors are invited to schedule museum tours. “The museum is here to spark creativity,” says Executive Director Wagner.  “We believe art is for everyone who wants to pursue it. The museum’s Yard School of Art conducts classes for people of all ages, beginning with children as young as six years old.  The museum is a community center – centered around art.”

Directly across the street from the museum you will find The Gallery at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, one of many galleries in town. Curator Lynne Oliver puts on six shows every year. “Our pleasure is in creating a space where we can show members of the community stunning work by their neighbors. Just as we want people to imagine themselves in beautiful homes, we want them to experience the beauty art can put on the walls of those homes.”

Hidden Treasures

Discover Gold. Gold Montclair is a hidden away gallery off Valley Road in Upper Montclair that shares an alleyway with outdoor restaurant seating and a clothing store. It has just celebrated its fifth year. In those five years it has hosted 38 shows which displayed the work of 59 artists, placing paintings, sculpture and works on paper with collectors in Manhattan, London, Miami, San Francisco, France, and of course, Montclair.


“Art Is Who We Are”

This quote from Phoebe Pollinger, President of Studio Montclair, which now has three gallery locations, expresses the spirt of art in Montclair. With over 500 members from New Jersey and across the country, the Studio Montclair origin story reveals the ongoing significance of art in Montclair. In 1997, twenty-five artists were promoted to the public as the “Montclair Art Colony, Past and Present.” Knowing that there were so many more, five artists joined forces to present “The Rest of the Colony,” showcasing another 45 artists. An art walk attracted more than 1,000 residents, causing street closures. Out of the movement on that day, grew Studio Montclair. Speaking generally about the arts, Phoebe Pollinger states with confidence, “In Montclair, we probably have the greatest number, per capita, of residents involved in creative industries.”

Hidden Treasures

There are four Montclair galleries in office buildings that make up the Bravitas Group. Each one displays art during weekday business hours. Academy Square is an incubator program for Studio Montclair; Brassworks Gallery; Gallery491; and Hillside Square Gallery.

Something New

GB Art Community is a new gallery on Bloomfield Avenue. Gary Bars and his wife Ebru concentrate on bringing foreign artists into the mix with local Montclair painters of their acquaintance. The gallery’s current exhibition shows the work of more than a dozen Turkish artists in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. Large, colorful canvases grace its walls. GB Art Community allows prospective purchasers to try the work for seven days in their home environments.

Montclair has a long history of supporting the arts. It has been home to many artists and writers, both past and present, contributing to a strong artistic tradition.



Commuters to and from Bay Street Station are met by a stellar embodiment of the public art mandate in a piece created by sculptor Tom Nussbaum.

Moviegoers and pedestrians passing through the Seymour Street Plaza, across from the Wellmont Theater, exchange glances with the arresting work of Stephen Moore.

Charlie Spademan is the artist behind the remarkable ironwork on the stairway railings and door of the building at 23 South Fullerton Street where Bangz salon conducts business.

Tuscany comes to Montclair.  Two mirroring views of the Italian countryside by ceramicist Cadence Giersbach grace the Siena Building on Park Street.

Hidden Treasures: Framing is an Art

Ria X Gallery is a framing business and one of the newest galleries in town located on Bellevue Avenue in Upper Montclair. The focus is contemporary art and framing with style. Art is all about discovery, and Montclair is full of discoveries. MSC Custom Framing is located in Watchung Plaza. It has a gallery but also displays one painting in its window. Passersby this month will see this painting by local artist, Linda Ippolito who happens to have an exhibit currently on display through October at The Gallery at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach at 695 Bloomfield Avenue. Art is everywhere in Montclair.