Art House’s 10th Annual Snow Ball Gala

By Lenore Holz

Once upon a time on a cold, dark mid-winter’s night a faction of fairy princesses and their subjects convened in the heart of Jersey City.  Woodland nymphs covered in butterflies gathered to sip glowing potions, as an archer danced with little red riding hood, all circled by a pair of tribal snow owls.  An iceman in a top hat and fingerless gloves warmed up the dance floor.  Horned and winged creatures alike celebrated the annual ritual known throughout the Jersey kingdom as “Snow Ball.”

On January 30th, 2016 Art House Productions held their 10th Annual Snow Ball Gala raising $40,000 for the nonprofit arts center.

Known as Jersey City’s prom, the black tie creative ball has become a who’s who gathering of local movers and shakers, indie and otherwise. Guests joining the festivities included New Jersey City University President Sue Henderson, Mayor Steven Fulop, City Council President Rolando Lavarro, and businessman Tommy Parisi.  Friends of Liberty State Park Founder and President Sam Pesin was seen taking a break from protecting LSP from privatization threats long enough to cut a rug on the dance floor.

(Right)  Sam Pesin, President of   Friends of Liberty State Park

(Right) Sam Pesin, President of Friends of Liberty State Park

The sold out event began with an hour-long private reception for VIP guests that offered champagne, a private concert by Carolyn Light, a gift bag, and a first look at silent auction items.  Guests bid on prizes ranging from artwork by local artists, to a five-night stay at a cottage in upstate New York.

Vocal quartet  Cabaret Sauvignon

Vocal quartet Cabaret Sauvignon

The black box theater and gallery were visually transformed with decor crafted from generous boughs of fragrant forest pine and foliage.  Upon arrival guests were greeted by a masterpiece of floral fine art in a stunning themed arrangement by Grove Design

Flowers by Grove Design

Flowers by Grove Design

Guests enjoyed themed cocktails and light fare by local restaurants.  Princes and princesses were handsomely rewarded for their Snow Ball spirit with a taste of Downtown Yogurt’s potent rum sauce squeezed atop their froyo.  NJ purveyor of fine spirits Cool Vines curated several specialty cocktails, also generously donating the wine, bitters and mixers for the open bars.  A pink-hued signature cocktail blended one event sponsors’ vodka with absinthe-like bitters.

Jersey City musician  Giselle  

Jersey City musician Giselle 

Jersey City musician Giselle performed a set before DJ George "Soul" Fernandez of Global Soul Project took over the musical reigns for the evening.  Wordsmiths from Guerilla Haiku Movement engaged attendees with creative expression capturing their thoughts in classic 5-7-5 form.

Art House Productions  Founder and Executive Director Christine Goodman

Art House Productions Founder and Executive Director Christine Goodman

After some brief acknowledgements and inspirational words, Art House Founder and Executive Director Christine Goodman led attendees in a toast to Art House.  Moments after our Majesty’s address, we wandered deeper into the woods for the Best Dressed Contest where the crowd cheered on those attendees who strutted their stuff across the black box theater’s stage like a catwalk.

Part of what makes Snow Ball a delight to attend is seeing Jersey City artists wear their own unique, creative interpretation of the gala’s theme.

The display of fashionable costumes transformed the event into a living, breathing, dancing work of contemporary performance art.  The high honor was bestowed to the creative dynamos behind Sirelo Entertainment, spouses Sirena Mari Mercado and Chelo Mercado, who donned exquisite hand-made owl costumes. 

Spouses Chelo Mercado and   Sirena Mari Mercado,  the creative dynamos behind  Sirelo Entertainment,  donning exquisite hand-made owl costumes. 

Spouses Chelo Mercado and Sirena Mari Mercado, the creative dynamos behind Sirelo Entertainment, donning exquisite hand-made owl costumes. 

The giant, funky, mandala-like trophy itself has become an evolving work of art with each winner adding their personal touch, while serving to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.  Goodman notes, “It started off as the biggest, gaudiest piece I could create, and it’s turned into a work of art over the years.”  The prize is taken home by recipients who’ve affixed their photos and trinkets, and spray painted the heavy wood disk over the years.

The evening reeled on well past the witching hour for an after-party hosted at a trendy new bar in the Powerhouse Arts District, Transmission, produced by the the very owls of Sirelo Entertainment.

Established in 2001, Art House has become a major center for visual and performing arts in Hudson County.  The gala represents a landmark year for the organization, which started as a party to raise funds for a 2007 production of Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real, and now has grown in reputation and size to 350 guests.  That first Snow Ball was held in the old Victory Hall, years before Art House’s transition from the old medical center at Hamilton Park to its wonderful space at Journal Square.  Besides basic operations cost for Art House, money raised by the event will fund scholarships for an after-school theater program.  Each semester, 18 students in the program will receive a full or partial scholarship based on need.

Enjoy a taste of Art House’s 10th Annual Snow Ball Gala by recreating the featured cocktail with this recipe for a French 75, selected by Cool Vines to match the sparkly-earthy gala theme:

French 75 Cocktail

Champagne, 2 oz.
Gin, 1 oz.
Lemon juice, ½ oz.
Simple syrup, a splash to taste, depending on the sweetness of the champagne
Garnish with lemon rind

Lenore Holz of  Brownstone Concierge , and Sam Pesin, President of  Friends of Liberty State Park

Lenore Holz of Brownstone Concierge, and Sam Pesin, President of Friends of Liberty State Park

Photos and videos by Lenore Holz.

About the Writer

Lenore Holz landed in Jersey City in July 2001 and hasn’t looked back. She helps others solve problems as Brownstone Concierge, crafts organic teas and fresh lemonade as Iced Tea Fusion, and teaches yoga as Lenorative Yoga.  A self­-identifying progressive, Lenore is committed to her community through advocating for animals, the local economy, and keeping Liberty State Park free and green.  Lenore can be reached at  #SaveLSP