With bated breath, the 11th annual Snow Ball returns on Saturday January 27. If you are one of the lucky ones, you already purchased your ticket to the now “sold-out” event. This year’s event is one not to miss, not only will this be the last Snow Ball held at the organization’s current space in Journal Square, but it will also be Christine Goodman’s last as Executive Director. (Yes, you read that right!)
For over a decade Art House Productions has produced Jersey City’s most magical, majestic, and anticipated annual arts gala. Proceeds from the “black tie creative” soirée helps benefit the organization’s innovative art programs for the upcoming season.
Carolyn Light and Morgan Hille Refakis perform at the 2016 Snow Ball VIP pre-concert
Ellen Hockley Harrison, this year’s Snow Ball event manager predicts, “This is going to be our best year yet! We have an incredible line up of entertainment and an amazing team!” Andrea McKenna, local artist and co-owner of the Raven Gallery and Lance Michele, AHP’s Technical Director and Lighting Designer along with a host of volunteers have transformed the black box theater space into an upscale cabaret. One of the highlights of the gala is the “Best Dressed Contest” where attendees strut their stuff on the catwalk for everyone to see. Last year local artists Chelo and Sirena Mercado won the best-dressed award. It will be exciting to see what people come up with for this year’s contest!
Hosted by Lillian Bustle, Snow Ball features a live music by Manouch Bag, light fare and open bar, a silent auction, and music to keep you on the dance from DJ George “Soul” Fernandez. Those who purchased a VIP ticket will have access to a private reception at Art House and a pre-event concert by the acappella group Cabaret Sauvignon featuring Amy Elise, Amanda Levie, Alexandra Pflaster, & Elena Zazanis. “Dancing” Tony Susco will keep the fun going at the Snow Ball After-Party at Porta (135 Newark Ave.) featuring The One and Nines and Jersey City Day Trippers is providing complimentary transportation from AHP to Porta.
Chelo and Sirena Mercado win the best-dressed award
Art has always been the heart of Jersey City. When Christine Goodman, a working actor and poet moved here 17 years ago, Jersey City was already a home to many visual artists, performers, writers and musicians. But before Art House Productions, Snow Ball and JC Fridays, before Jersey City’s mural program, 4th Street Arts, Project Greenville, and the Riverview Arts District, artists lived and created in their own individual pockets all around the city. “It was a completely different city back then. There were no places for artists to come together,” Goodman recalls. She would hang flyers on telephone poles, searching for local venues to host poetry readings and ways to connect with fellow artists. In September 2001 she founded Art House Productions — a nonprofit organization — as a gathering place for artists to meet and share their work. “What started as a dream for me has evolved into a vibrant performing and visual arts organization with strong Board leadership and its own momentum,” says Goodman.
Mayor Steven Fulop, David Gibson, Christine Goodman, Councilman Roland Lavarro (left to right)
Today Art House Productions is the pioneer venue and the face for the Jersey City art scene. To that end Christine Goodman has her hands in everything — producing, writing, acting, hosting, grant writing, community building, and more. But perhaps, her most important role has been being a liaison between the city and the artists. Everyone knows it takes a lot of time and money to to fund a successful arts organization. Snow Ball was created as a way to help fund the work Art House wanted to do in Jersey City. Every year the event brings together artists, business owners, residents and elected officials under one roof — all in the name of the arts. Last year for the first time the event was postponed due to the snow storm Jonas. Still over 350 people attended and the organization raised almost $5000 from the live auction, which was used in 2016 to provide scholarships for young people to participate in their STAGES! Theater Company for Youth. (This money made up for a grant they lost last year due to a change in funding priorities by the granting foundation.)
Christine Goodman and Michael Flink
In a few months Art House Productions will be moving from their location in Journal Square. The organization moved to the current space from Hamilton Square in 2015 and before that they were located in Paulus Hook in what is now the Drawing Rooms building. (The new location is TBA but we have heard it’s an amazing space — JCI will update readers once the new location has been released.) Art House continues to evolve beyond the vision of its founder, which is exactly as it should be. “It has been a beautiful process to participate in and I am so grateful for all I’ve learned along the way,” Goodman says. “This is a particularly sentimental Snow Ball for me, as it is my last one as Art House’s Executive Director. I am grateful to so many people for the years of support, artistic contributions, and “roll up your sleeves” industriousness that kept us moving forward through thick and thin,” Goodman says with just a hint of early nostalgia. Goodman is resigning from her role but will be on hand to help with the transition of AHP’s new ED, Meredith Burns. “I will stay involved as a Board member, and I remain committed to the long-term sustainability and growth of the organization.”
The 11th Annual Snow Ball will be held on Saturday, January 27 at 8 pm (with a snow date of February 4th), 136 Magnolia Ave. For more information, visit arthouseproductions.org.
Catherine Hecht contributed to this article. Photos: Laura Desantis Olsson, courtesy Art House Productions