ArtYard is pleased to announce new exhibitions — The Alchemy of Blood and Diseñando Masculinidades / Designing Masculinities. Opening with a reception from 6 to 8 PM on Sat., June 22, the exhibitions feature new works created by artists Suleika Jaouad and José Villalobos as part of ArtYard residencies.

The evening also marks the opening of Stairway From Heaven, a collaborative exhibition between ArtYard and Studio Route 29, featuring works by Frenchtown artist Bill Eppinger.

Registration is required for the opening reception and for artist talks on Sunday, June 23 at artyard.org

Suleika Jaouad and Anne Francey: The Alchemy of Blood

The Alchemy of Blood is born of bodily transitions and transformations, limitations, and liminalities. Featuring works by Suleika Jaouad and those of her mother Anne Francey, the show pulls from periods of pregnancy, illness, and recovery — meditating on bodily agency, protective talismans, and emblems of the otherworldly that guided Jaouad and Francey through states of intense anticipation and corporeal metamorphosis.

The Alchemy of Blood is the first-ever art exhibition for Jaouad, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Between Two Kingdoms, which chronicles her experience of cancer in young adulthood. During a spring residency at ArtYard, Joauad enlarged a series of delirious watercolor dreamscapes she had produced from her hospital bed during treatment for a 2022 relapse which had temporarily compromised her vision and ability to write.

Jaouad’s scenes and symbolisms share a foundational logic with the paintings Francey made three decades earlier while pregnant with Jaouad. Human-sized flowers seem to dance in vibrant washes of color — conjuring the womb and its growing life, on the brink between elsewhere and aliveness. Francey’s practice also shifted in response to her daughter’s diagnosis — she began making totemic ceramic “shields” to protect Jaouad through illness. These manifestations made concrete through clay and later woven hospital ephemera echo a medieval alchemist’s attempt to twist precious metals into a universal elixir for healing.

Jaouad and Francey will offer an artist talk at 11 AM on Sunday, June 23 moderated by Carmen Radley, managing editor of The Isolation Journals, Jaouad’s weekly newsletter. Tickets for the talk, held in ArtYard’s McDonnell Theater, are $20.

José Villalobos: Diseñando Masculinidades / Designing Masculinities

José Villalobos’ multimedia work explores machismo and design within Norteño culture. His sculpture and performance displays a nuanced and proud connection to his Mexican heritage, despite its undercurrents  of violent  homophobia. Villalobos, born and raised on the U.S./Mexican border in El Paso, Texas, grew up struggling to reconcile a queer identity with the norms of masculinity in his traditional and religiously conservative family.

During his ArtYard residency, Villalobos delved into the intricacies of the stitching patterns of vaquero boots. Historically, cowboy boots have been synonymous with masculinity and power and yet their ornate, even flamboyant embroidery suggests something different. Diseñando Masculinidades explores this cultural tradition.

Villalobos will offer an artist talk with Rigoberto Luna, an artist, designer, and independent curator, at 2 PM on Sunday, June 23. The talk, held at ArtYard’s McDonnell Theater, is free as part of Frenchtown’s Pride Week. 

Bill Eppinger: Stairway From Heaven

Stairway From Heaven is a solo show of work by Frenchtown artist Bill Eppinger. On view will be several of Eppinger’s spiral notebooks in which the artist records almost daily visions he says he receives from God in marker, ballpoint pen, highlighter, white-out, tape, Post-its, and paper scraps.

Studio Route 29 is a progressive art studio which centers the creative practices and perspectives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

ArtYard is located at 13 Front St., Frenchtown, NJ, 08825. Free public hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM and Thursdays until 7 PM.

ArtYard is an incubator for creative expression and a catalyst for collaborations that reveal the transformational power of art. Its campus includes an arts center featuring exhibition space and a state-of-the-art theater as well as two buildings housing its residency program. To learn more, visit artyard.org.