Exchange Place Alliance installs thought-provoking artwork along Jersey City waterfront

Whether you are an art aficionado or not, a new sculpture installation along the Jersey City waterfront will not only catch your attention, but will offer a new and thought-provoking way to look at life.  

Jersey City’s Exchange Place Alliance commissioned 15 sculptures by Michael Alfano along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, from the Exchange Place PATH Station to the Paulus Hook ferry terminal.  

The sculptures, installed at the end of March and in place for approximately a year, are part of Alfano’s “Of Many Minds” exhibit. They are figurative, surrealistic and thought-provoking.

“We are delighted to be showcasing Michael’s work and are excited about Jersey City residents and visitors strolling the waterfront to appreciate these compelling works of art,” Elizabeth Cain, Exchange Place Alliance executive director, said. “Our commitment to public art helps to make Exchange Place a vibrant neighborhood for residents, workers and visitors, all to build a stronger community and support our local businesses.”  

With the Manhattan skyline serving as their backdrop, the pieces, which already foster curiosity and wonder, are paired with quotations that expand on Alfano’s vision.  

While onlookers are free to develop their own interpretations, the exhibit encourages them to understand multiple points of view and experience their common humanity. The fully interactive art is there to be seen, touched and taken in. All of the different sculptures set along the waterfront come with a message. 

“Unraveling” by Michael Alfano.

“Unraveling” for instance — a piece that portrays two people made of coiled wire engaging in a tug of war on a seesaw, though it’s not a child’s game they play — offers this thought-provoking quote, “If winning is at the cost of others, everyone loses.”

Each of the pieces offers more food for thought as it is viewed. More curiosity and more interest.  

“We find that, whenever we put anything on the waterfront, especially interactive things like this, people flock to it. There is definitely an inquisitive, and excited community out there,” Cain said. 

This is not the first of Alfano’s works to be displayed by Exchange Place. “Beacon” was featured from 2021 to 2023 on the walkway adjacent to the Pier House condos.  

“Over the past decade, we have elevated Jersey City’s profile as a premier destination for showcasing artists, and we are grateful to the Exchange Place Alliance for bringing Michael Alfano’s impressive work to the waterfront for all to enjoy and ultimately enriching the cultural landscape of Jersey City,” Mayor Steven Fulop said. 

The sculptures are there for everyone who visits Exchange Place to enjoy. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the free exhibit, seeing and interacting with the museum-quality pieces while walking, biking and enjoying views of the Manhattan skyline. 

“Vibrant public art accessible to residents and visitors alike adds greatly to Jersey City’s sense of community. It is wonderful that Exchange Place Alliance puts such an emphasis on sculptures and other installations,” Joyce Watterman, Jersey City council president, said. 

“The waterfront is one of Jersey City’s gems, with outstanding restaurants, views of the Hudson River and sunsets lighting up New York City,” Alfano said. “In this remarkable setting, visitors of all ages can enjoy interacting with the sculptures in a free exhibit that brings museum-quality art to the public realm.” 

Alfano has been sculpting for over 25 years, with work in galleries, museums, parks and collections around the globe. His sculptures have been featured at international art fairs and special events at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Cape Cod Museum of Art.