Updated: Sep 12
Hudson County has been home to some wonderful local artists — both performers and creators alike. Longtime Hoboken resident and artist Doug Auld says there’s always something new to learn. “I’ve lived here 40 years and I’m always finding out something new,” he told HG. Doug is a painter and musician who has gained nationwide recognition for his paintings, and he was the Absolut Vodka artist of the year in 1993. Doug has a new project — a musical called Hypnotta — that he wants to share with Hoboken neighbors. The Hoboken Girl spoke to Doug about life in the Mile Square, his art, and more. Read on to hear the latest from Doug Auld and his brand new musical. About Doug Auld Even if you don’t know Doug personally, you probably know him by sight. “For a long time, I was into rollerblading, so I was always rollerblading around town,” he told Hoboken Girl. In fact, his memories of September 11th are of rushing down to the waterfront on his rollerblades to see what was happening. Doug also has a classic Mini Cooper from England that is dark green. “It’s definitely the only one in Hoboken,” he said. Doug is a native of North Jersey, and ended up in Hoboken after a divorce early in life. He has an adult son. “I had heard Hoboken was a fast-growing place that was attracting a lot of artists and creative people,” he said. Doug was the second child of four and has two younger sisters. His father was a car dealer, so Doug went to school to be an auto mechanic. His older brother, Greg, would take him to concerts, and those concerts ultimately changed Doug’s career path. “Greg took me to see The Doors in Philadelphia,” he said. “I was totally taken by the scene and the energy. I knew I wanted to start a band.” Doug started taking piano lessons and writing music. He switched his studies from auto repair to piano tuning. “I had a friend who was a piano tuner who taught me the trade,” he said. “My life was all things music.” Read more: A Comprehensive Guide to Hoboken + Jersey City Live Music Spots Older brother Greg’s influence struck again when a few years later, Greg took Doug to see the Salvador Dali Museum. At the time, it was located in Cleveland, Ohio, but it is now in St. Petersburg, Florida. “The museum awakened me to art,” Doug said. “I bought paint, and I got going. I started painting portraits and album covers, always in a realist style.” About Doug’s Art “I made a painting called The Battle Of Art And Music around 1971,” Doug said. “It’s an imaginary thing of art and music fighting each other, which is the internal battle I’ve had all these years.” Over the years, Doug has become known for his realist style paintings. He was selected as the 1993 Absolut Vodka Artist of the Year as part of the brand’s artist collaboration series.
A series of paintings he made in 2005 also gained recognition nationwide. The series was called “State of Grace” and was a collection of portraits of burn survivors. Doug was inspired by the destruction of the September 11th attacks to create art that would serve a purpose. He wanted to show the human side of burn survivors, and worked with the Burn Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston to coordinate with the subjects. Doug said that the paintings would allow the public to view a burn survivor in private, allowing the burn survivor to be humanized in public.
See more: This Local Artist Captures Hoboken + Jersey City Throughout the Years Doug said that the Chief Burn Surgeon from Weill Cornell visited the studio and said, “I am the best burn surgeon in the whole world, I can fix these people, but you can help them integrate into the world.” As rewarding as the series was, Doug said it was hard to produce commercially, because it’s not the kind of art that can be created on demand. One of the paintings was selected to be displayed at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington for an exhibition.
About Hypnotta Doug’s new work, Hypnotta, is the culmination of seven years’ worth of work. It is also emblematic of Doug’s eclectic interests and his desire to ask the big questions. “I like to ask big existential questions about the world,” he said. While Doug had been working on the project for some time, the pandemic provided the final push to complete it. “During the pandemic, I just worked on my play and played hockey,” he said. He taught himself how to use Apple Music producing tools and worked away at the play. Doug said, “The play is very exciting and informative. It’s a provocative show that is sort of like It’s A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart in combination with ET.” Hypnotta is a musical with 18 original songs, all written and arranged by Doug. The story follows the two main characters’ experience with an alien encounter and their attempts to convince the rest of the world that the story is true. Doug says that “regardless of your interest in UFOs, it is appealing to anyone.” He continued, “It’s kind of like The Wizard of Oz. There is no violence, no special effects.”
Doug mentioned that one of the main themes of the play is the idea that people have an interior and an exterior self. “I’m into the idea of people being almost confused about what’s actually underneath,” he said. “It can be confusing about who the actual person is.” In terms of choosing to write about aliens and UFOs, Doug says, “One of the reasons I wrote it is because UFOs is a fringe topic and there is a small amount of people involved in it. I want to reach new people who aren’t informed.”
Now, Doug’s hope is to take his production to the stage. Earlier in the project, Doug experienced some Mile Square magic firsthand. “I made a serendipitous connection to some neighbors in Hoboken who were Broadway singers. They did demos of the songs for me,” he said. Finally, Doug told HG, “I would also like for my intention to be out there to have Theatre, Stage, and local singers + actors see my show’s site and be encouraged to contact me.” Stay in the know with @thehobokengirl on Instagram and TikTok.
Stephanie Spear July 28, 2022