Cultural Leaders Interviews

A new series from the Office of Cultural Affairs in Jersey City profiling the people and locations that define the cultural landscape of this unique community.


Duda Penteado / Fine Artist

After settling in Jersey City from Brazil, Duda Penteado’s story is a very personal one. As a fine artist living in Jersey City during the 9/11 attacks and America in it’s aftermath, Duda made a large body of celebrated works of art reflecting these events. From museum installations to memorials made of actual steel from the Twin Towers, his art looks at this difficult piece of history through the eye of someone who experienced it from a very close distance. Learn about his process and why Jersey City is his home.

 Beth Achenbach & Catherine Hecht

Artists, curators, activist, and journalists are just a few hats that this dynamic duo share in their mission to make Jersey City a better place to live. Learn what brought Cat and Beth together and how they get others to do the same in the city they proudly call home.

 Thomas John Carlson / Jersey City Art School

Originally from the mid west, Thomas John Carlson has been influencing the Jersey City art scene for a full decade. See how this fine artist started in Jersey City by opening up his personal painting studio to offer classes to people in the community, eventually growing it into the Jersey City Art School. The school has branched out to four locations in Jersey City including a gallery space and more.

Alvin Pettit / Bethune Center

Alvin Pettit grew up in Baltimore Maryland and settled in Jersey City while attending the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. After working alongside some notable artists as well as being an accomplished painter and sculptor in his own right, Alvin now works as the director for the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center in the Greenville neighborhood of Jersey City. Hear how the Bethune Center is transforming the cultural landscape and bringing together the community of Jersey City with it’s dozens of classes on art, wellness and much more.

Eileen Markenstein / Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery

After being abandoned in 2008, The Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery was taken over by a group of volunteers led by Eileen Markenstein. With help from the community, Eileen and her team were able to take a place left for ruins and turn it into an important cultural center and historical landmark. From year-round events, to historic tours this local treasure has done wonders in educating, entertaining, and enlightening the community of Jersey City. Find out the history of this landmark along with it’s plans for the future.

Donald Gallagher / Grace Church Van Vorst

It’s hard to walk around the streets of Jersey City without spotting the colorful and friendly Donald Gallagher. Donald is a painter, singer, activist, radical ferry and so much more… Learn how and why this local legend made Jersey City his home in addition to single handedly restoring the interior detail of one of Jersey City’s oldest churches, Grace Church Van Vorst.

Anthony “Dancing Tony” Susco / Rock-It Docket

Man about town, promoter, event organizer, DJ and much more… Find out how the guy who “runs fun” in Jersey City got his start along with the important people and places that brought him to settle there. Anthony “Dancing Tony” Susco along with with his event co. Rock-It Docket, have been an integral part of Jersey City culture for over a decade. Hear about the origin of the Ghost of Uncle Joe’s Halloween show, 58 Coles and much more.