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Visionary Couple Brings Artistic Culture To Hawthorne

Lauren and Rich Lopez of Hawthorne started ARTxSOULNJ to bring more culture into the area. Photo Credit: Lauren Lopez
At ARTxSOULNJ events, a DJ spins records in a pop-up gallery space. Photo Credit: Lola JJ
An ARTxSOULNJ Drink and Draw event brought the creativity out in people. Photo Credit: Lauren Lopez

HAWTHORNE, N.J. -- Longing to deliver an urban art vibe to the suburbs, a Hawthorne couple partnered with a local restaurant to bring the experience to life.

ARTxSOULNJ launched in 2015 with Sticks and Stones, an underground event space at Artisan Kitchen in Hawthorne.

"We went to the restaurant and the owners were ready to open an event space downstairs," said Lauren Lopez, a corporate event planner who runs ARTxSOULNJ with her husband Rich, a fine artist who works for a company that designs Broadway and television sets.

In 2016 they had four different gallery events, each with a DJ spinning playlists crafted around the artists' tastes.

"We wanted it to be more than a gallery experience," she said.

Visitors linger over drinks at the bar or snacks at tables. Others dance or talk with the artists.

"Because we're offering music, people tend to stay longer," she said.

The concept was inspired by a now-closed independent coffee shop gallery in Teaneck called Blast run by the husband-wife team Scott and Sarah Harris.

"They (Blast) inspired us that we could have a Greenwich Village art experience in the suburbs," Lopez said.

Artisan Kitchen doesn't charge ArtXSoulNJ a fee to run events and the $5 cover charge pays overhead like the DJ.

Each event draws about 60-80 people and most artists sell something.

"The owner won’t take a cut of the commissions, unlike many restaurants that hang artists’ work. They’ve been great."

After the initial opening, work hangs in the restaurant and event space for about six weeks and then there is a closing event before the next show opens.

Some events have themes, like the upcoming Feb. 18 show, which will feature street art. Others are freestyle.

"We want it to be energetic and welcoming for everyone. We want this to be a community. We don’t want it to be too hip or stifling in any way."

"The Get Down" on Saturday, Feb. 18 will be a hip-hop inspired event with live painting and a breakdance crew.

Participating artists include,

  • Jay D from Ridgewood of Cre8tive Roar
  • Ray Mandal of Fair Lawn
  • Sam Nygard from Hawthorne of Rebel Child Designs.
  • Jaime Morlock from Pennsylvania of WKID Creations.
  • Alim Scarpelli from New City, N.Y. SC-One, break dance crew
  • DJ Pat Poon from Teaneck.

The event starts at 9 p.m.

Click here for more information or email

Sticks and Stones is located at 142 Goffle Road, Hawthorne.

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