Mana Contemporary Announces 'Out of Character' and 'From the Feet Up: 50 Years of Sneaks & Beats' Exhibitions - Opening on April 12th, 4-7 PM

Mana Contemporary Announces ‘Out of Character’ and ‘From the Feet Up: 50 Years of Sneaks & Beats’ Exhibitions – Opening on April 12th

Mana Contemporary Explores Creative Evolution with “Out of Character” and “From the Feet Up: 50 Years of Sneaks & Beats” Exhibitions – Opening on April 12th, 4-7 PM 


Jersey City, NJ (April 7, 2023) – Mana Contemporary is thrilled to announce the opening of two captivating exhibitions, “Out of Character” and “From the Feet Up: 50 Years of Sneaks & Beats,” on Wednesday, April 12th, from 4-7 PM. These fun and insightful exhibitions challenge the traditional notions of fine art, showcasing the transformative power of artistic innovation and creativity.


“From the Feet Up: 50 Years of Sneaks & Beats” is an immersive exhibition curated by Sean Williams, celebrating the intersection of sneaker culture and Hip-Hop, featuring iconic sneakers designed and worn by renowned rappers, athletes, including TupacPublic EnemyRun DMCBeyoncePatrick Ewing, and many other influential figures. The exhibition highlights the evolution of sneaker design, with a focus on technological advancements and sustainability efforts that have shaped the industry over the past five decades. *Images of select sneakers at the bottom of this email*

The exhibition delves into how sneakers have been designed to provide solutions to various problems since their inception. Innovations in the sneaker industry have often been subtle, yet crucial to its growth, making sneakers the perfect medium for revolutionary inventions. Coinciding with the rise of both Hip-Hop and sneaker cultures, the past fifty years have witnessed significant technological innovations that have transformed these industries into multibillion-dollar enterprises.


“Out of Character” is a bold exhibition that delves into the evolution of identity through form and narrative in characterized or stylized figurative work, using mediums such as moving animation, drawing, painting, and sculpture. Co-curated by Pierogi Gallery and Willy Hartland, the exhibition sheds light on the historical context of animation and its journey from being dismissed as mere “cartoons” to being recognized as a legitimate form of fine art.

Historically, early animations and humorous artworks were not taken seriously as fine art. It wasn’t until the advent of Pop Art in the 1960s, with artists like Lichtenstein and others who began appropriating cartoon styles in their work, that the distinctions and hierarchies within the art world began to dissolve. The animations featured in “Out of Character” portray a variety of subjects, styles, media, and techniques, ranging from stop-motion and hand-drawn images to computer software, “lo-tech,” flip book, and even live performance projection. While some works reference cartoons, they are not corporate franchise products, but rather unique and idiosyncratic inventions.


The exhibition features works by esteemed artists such as Greg Barsamian, David Brody, Nicole Claveloux, Hugo Crosthwaite, R. Crumb, Brian Dewan, Nicole Eisenman, James Esber, Matt Freedman, Drew Friedman, George Griffin, Red Grooms, Willy Hartland, Jaime Hernandez, Emily Hubley, Darina Karpov, Lisa LaBracio, Andy London, Carolyn London, Matt Marello, William McKearn, Morgan Miller, Caroline Mouris, Frank Mouris, Michaela Müller, Gary Panter, Joyce Pensato, Pes, Anna Samo, David Scher, Guy Richards Smit, Kathy Stecko, Nate Theis, Jim Torok, Martin Wilner, and S. Clay Wilson.


“Out of Character” animation program features a total running time of 85:13 minutes, including standout pieces such as Western Spaghetti by Pes, New York City Sketchbook by Willy Hartland, and The Lost Tribes of NYC by Andy and Carolyn London.


The two exhibitions are a testament to Mana Contemporary’s commitment to presenting thought-provoking, boundary-breaking art. Join us for the opening reception on Wednesday, April 12th, from 4-7 PM at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City.


About Sean Williams:

Sean Williams, a born and raised Brooklynite, developed a passion for sneakers at age 13 and started purchasing his own pairs at 15. He co-founded OSD LLC in 2007, which strives to “Appreciate, Educate, Elevate” the sneaker industry. Williams aims to inspire younger generations to become future professionals in the industry. He has been featured in numerous publications, TV shows, and websites, including Maxim and Complex magazine’s “50 Most Influential People in Sneakers Right Now” list. In 2018, Williams became the first-ever Rankin Scholar in sneaker culture at Drexel University. He co-curated the first-ever Hip-Hop apparel and sneaker exhibition in New York City, which was viewed by over 9.8 million people. Business Insider recognized Williams in their “Power List: 28 Most Outstanding People of Color Transforming the Sneaker Industry” in 2020.


About Mana Contemporary: Mana Contemporary is a leading arts organization dedicated to celebrating the creative process. Headquartered in a vast former tobacco warehouse in Jersey City, the rapidly expanding institution aims to create a single community of artists and arts enthusiasts within a network of exhibition spaces, studios, and archives. Mana Contemporary is a vibrant and accessible cultural hub that fosters artistic growth and collaboration through diverse programming and events.


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Mana Contemporary is located at 888 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306

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