New Neighbors: Glocally Newark

It’s always exciting to see a new set of voices enter the civic discourse about our fair city, so I’m very happy to share Glocally Newark with you.
Glocally Newark is a funded, 6-person blogging team based out of 744 Broad.  They write independent observations about city life.  Check them out: glocallynewark.com.

Three new exhibitions opening at Gallery Aferro

Gallery Aferro 73 Market St Newark NJ aferro.org
Tabula Rasa
Curated by Evonne M. Davis
March 21 – May 16, 2009
Opening Reception March 21, 7-10 PM
with fully illustrated color catalog, essay by artist Ryan Schroeder

Tabula Rasa (’ täbyoŏlə ˈräsə; ˈräzə) refers to an absence of preconceived ideas or predetermined goals; a clean slate. The phrase carries baggage from belief systems in which the human mind at birth is viewed as having no innate ideas. Denying what is obvious is practiced as a gesture of resistance by some of the artists, most or all of whom are affected, however indirectly, by the notions derived from existentialism and the nothingness of existence, ennui. Inspired curatorially by the concept of residual information that persists after erasure, the exhibition is one of several to date by Evonne M. Davis concerning the nature of knowing, learning and unlearning.

ORIGIN Latin, literally ‘scraped tablet,’ denoting a tablet with the writing erased.

Artists: Dave Beck, Katrina Bello, Michael Davies, Brian DeLevie + Isshaela Ingham, Gary Duehr, Maria Emilov, Jonathan Franco, Brian Gustafon, Erik Hanson, Emily Henretta, Greg Leshé, Casey Lynch, Carol Petino, Kara Rooney, Ryan Schroeder, Joshua Schwebel, Travis LeRoy Southworth, Ian Summers, Alexis West

Nitrogen Cycles
Andrew Demirjian and Zachary Seldess
New Media Room
March 21 – May 16, 2009
Opening Reception March 21, 7-10 PM
Artist Talk Date TBA

An eight channel sound installation.

Andrew Demirjian is a media artist whose work focuses on creating alternative relationships between audio, video and text that take the form of single-channel videos and multi-channel installations. He is interested in using sensors and motion tracking to create reactive environments between physical and mediated spaces. The works often explore the lines between interior and exterior, mass media effects on the individual and the psychology of male identity. Andrew employs conceptual systems of juxtaposition, categorization and randomness as structuring devices versus conventional narrative arcs and character development.

His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and galleries including the White Box gallery, Harvestworks, LMAK Projects and GAS in Manhattan. Over the last year he has had multiple international exhibitions including the Garden of Earthly Delights in Korea, Küf/Mold in Belgium, Artist in Wonderland in Poland and Analogue/Digital in England. Andrew Demirjian received a 2006 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Puffin Foundation Grant, an Artslink grant and has been awarded artist in residencies at the Newark Museum, the Experimental Television Center, the Visual Studies Workshop and The Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art. Mr. Demirjian received his MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College and he is a professor at Monmouth University teaching courses in video production, visual culture and film history.

Into the Singularity
Tom Block
Project Room
March 21 – May 16, 2009
Opening Reception March 21, 7-10 PM
Artist Talk Date TBA

“Into the Singularity is a 72 foot long painting exploring the horror of classical mystical attainment. That path is cold, lonely, miserable, unloved, terrifying, insanity producing and just plain wrong. I have created this massive paper, collage, drawing and painting piece to express the seething human singularity that percolates in the deepest recesses of the mystic’s brain. Fusing color, a morass of hands, screaming faces and dribbling tears of line, this work explores the horrifying interior space created by the classical mystic’s path. It is an empty, narcissistic and rudderless journey, leading only into a cul-de-sac of a-human experience.

I utilize the visual arts, writing projects and scholarship to explore the interaction between the spiritual life of humanity and our sometimes-sad shared reality. My work explores humans’ attempts to make sense of this world. At the very best, I hope that my art will have an activist influence, causing viewers to question their own personal roles in making the world a better place to live.”

Dreams Deferred, a Filmmaker Explores 2003 Hate-Crime

Filmmaker Charles B. Brack has produced a documentary to remember and examine the hate-crime killing of Sakia Gunn, a lesbian high school student: Film Examines a Newark Hate Crime. The crime took place in Newark in 2003 on the corner of Market and Broad streets.
The film, “<a href=“http://www.sakiagunnfilmproject.com/&#8221; Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project,” highlights the lack of media coverage of Gunn’s tragic slaying, which was largely ignored by the national media, despite its exposure of a deep and ugly bias against the LGBT community.

A documentary recounts the 2003 killing of Sakia Gunn, 15, a lesbian high school student in Newark.

In 2003, Sakia Gunn, a 15-year-old lesbian high school student, was fatally stabbed in downtown Newark by a man who had approached her in the street and made sexual advances to her and her friends, which they declined.

The case, which was prosecuted as a hate crime, drew widespread attention in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, though considerably less news coverage than that of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old gay college student who was abducted, beaten, tied to a pole and left to freeze to death in Laramie, Wyo., in 1998.

Rutgers University Remembers Student Protests, Celebrates Black History Month

Rutgers-Newark: Remembering a 1969 Protest by a Few that Opened Doors for Many at Rutgers University

Forty years ago, a single act of courage by a group of committed students forever changed Rutgers University.  On Feb. 24, 1969, young men and women from the Black Organization of Students, along with some supporters, occupied Conklin Hall at Rutgers University in Newark, protesting the scarcity of black students, black faculty and minority-oriented academic programs on campus.  The event lasted only 72 hours – but the new programs and policies that it triggered are responsible for transforming the whole of Rutgers University into a multicultural institution, with the campus in Newark cited as the most diverse national university in the United States (U.S. News & World Report, July 2008). 

Rutgers in Newark will pause to reflect on those 72 hours, and publicly recognize and thank the people who braved expulsion and arrest to stand up for their beliefs.

The University will be celebrating Black History Month with a number of programs that are free and open to the public

  • Feb. 21, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., 29th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, New Jersey’s largest and oldest Black History Month observance. Paul Robeson Campus Center, 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Essex Room East and West, Newark NJ. Info: Marisa Pierson, 973/353-1871, ext. 11, mpierson@newark.rutgers.edu, http://ethnicity.rutgers.edu
  • Feb. 25, 6 – 9 p.m., “Repatriation of African Art,” a panel discussion. Rutgers Center for Law and Justice, 1st floor, Baker Trial Courtroom, 123 Washington St., Newark. Co-sponsored by the Art Law Society. Free and open to the public (non-Rutgers visitors must check in at front desk.) Information: Rebecca Esmi, resmi4mail@yahoo.com
  • A Celebration of Diversity: The 40th Anniversary of the Conklin Hall Takeover (contact: Gerard Drinkard, 973/353-3824, or drinkard@andromeda.rutgers.edu)
    • Feb. 5, 5-7 p.m., “We Only Know What We Can Remember” Exhibit, Robeson Gallery, Paul Robeson Campus Center,.  Opening reception for Conklin Takeover exhibit in Robeson Gallery featuring photos and documents from the John Cotton Dana Library Archives Digital Preservation Initiative. Exhibit will be displayed in Orbit II Gallery through July 2009.
    • Feb. 12, 4 – 6 p.m., “Inside the Conklin Hall Takeover,” a DVD Screening, Reception & Discussion with Special Performance by Unity Theatre. Bradley Hall Theatre. A brief documentary of interviews and reflections with Chancellor Steven Diner, Dr. Clement A. Price, Dr. Norman Samuels, Junius Williams, current Rutgers students, Black Organization of Students (BOS) alumni including Richard Roper (1st president of BOS), George Hampton (participant in the 1969 takeover) and other noted faculty.
    • Feb. 23, 11:30 a.m. – 12:50 p.m., JUKE JOINT POETRY JAM Essex Room, Paul Robeson Campus Center. Celebration of diversity in verse and rhyme featuring students and alumni from various cultures. Multi-cultural refreshments will be served.
    • Feb. 24, 1-5 p.m., “A Look Back, A Leap Forward,” hosted by Dr. Clement A. Price, with performance by Unity Theater,., Essex Room, Paul Robeson Campus Center.  This program commemorates the 40th anniversary of the protest actions of Feb. 24, 1969, by BOS and other students which opened the doors to forever change the cultural makeup of Rutgers-Newark, today the most diverse university in America. Special guests include: President Richard McCormick, Chancellor Steven Diner, ‘69 Liberators.
    • Feb. 27, 6-10 p.m., 40 Years: Liberation of Conklin Hall Reunion, Essex Room, Paul Robeson Campus Center. Closing ceremonies of the celebration of the historic 1969 Conklin Hall Takeover. Awards honoring the ‘69 liberators with special guest speakers Dr. Clement A. Price and the Rev. Dr. Howard, Chair, Rutgers Board of Governors.

Paradise Lost: Newark Poetry

All hell broke loose.
John Milton, Paradise Lost

In June 1667, Puritans under Robert Treat signed the first city charter for the religiously exclusive Newark governance. A month later, these white men struck a good deal with the Lenape Indians for the paradisiacal land from the Passaic River to the Watchung Mountains. That was the year when the immortal Milton first published his Paradise Lost.

In November 1915, Newark at its pinnacle organized the Newark Poetry Competition as a part of the city’s 250th anniversary celebration. In the official publication, The Newarker, the organizers wrote:

Newark is not all industries, smoke, rush and din. It is a great center of production and in its special field of work is alert and progressive. But it has also beautiful homes, fine parks, admirable schools, and a useful library. Its thousands of shade trees are the envy of many cities. The cleanliness of its highways surprises even the Newarker himself. It has a good government, churches in plenty and many worthy clubs and societies. Art and science even are not altogether neglected here… Newark, with 400,000 people… (is) known to all the world as a producer of honest goods.

Clement Wood, a graduate of Yale Law School, won the first prize with his poem, The Smithy of God.

Clang, and clang, and clang, and clang,
Till a hundred thousand tired feet
Drag-drag-drag down the evening street,
And gleaming the myriad street-lights hang;
The far night-noise dwindle and hush,
The city quiets its homing rush;
The stars blow forth with silent sweep,
As Hammer and hammered drowse asleep…
Softy I sing to heaven again,
I am Newark, forger of men,
Forger of men, forger of men.

Perhaps even with a nightingale’s singing, Wood’s nocturne might not be able to send 400,000 working men and women with blue eyes and children with above-average intelligence to their sweet American dreams every night. However, Newark indeed was a first-class city of manufacture and technological inventions. Poet Sayers Coe, a native Newarker and a graduate of Princeton, could even verify the most familiar sound of his time in his The Voice of the City:

Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!
Hark to the music that the hammers beat!
List to the tramp of the marching feet!
See, where the forges redly glow!
This is the song that my children know –
Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!
Hear me, cities of men….

Before becoming an editor of Puck Magazine, Berton Braley labored with his hands, passing coal on the Great Lakes, digging ditches, guarding prisons and an insane asylum, farming and mining. With Walt Whitman’s spirit, he testified, “The needs and wants of the world have spurred her, Newark – city that builds our dreams.” However, amazed by Newark’s vulgar Pollyannaish fever, the literature wizard Ezra Pound sent his advice from London, “If each Italian city is herself, Each with a form, light, character… Can you, Newark, be thus, setting a fashion, But little known in our land?”

On May 31, 1916, 40,000 citizens celebrated the city’s birth in a beautiful amphitheatre in Weequahic Park. On a natural stage separated from the crowds by a lagoon 300 feet long and 163 fee wide, 4,000 performers unfolded the city’s history in four movements, including Lenape “peace legend,” Robert Treat (of course), land rioters of 1746, and rebels against British tyranny in a 1776 town meeting. A live band of 92 pieces performed the pageant music composed by Henry Hadley for the event.

Was life so great then? Would the celebration last? Our poet Richard Cammarieri in his 1999 poem, Taking Sides, asked:

Celebrate?
Celebrate what?
Ignorance deceit
Conquest slavery death
that is what you are about
and I know – we know –
what you are about.

In the next 50 years, through two World Wars, the Prohibitionist attack, the Great Depression, and Urban Renewal, two waves of Southern African-American migrant workers moved in with poverty and tens of thousands of whites moved out with wealth. In front of the eyes of a single generation, the once powerful city swiftly experienced a stunning metamorphosis, which has, in turn, generated a very different poetry. In 1967, a Newark court convicted Amiri Baraka with his poem, “We must take our own world, man, our own world, and we cannot do this unless the white man is dead. Let’s get together and kill him my man… Let’s make a world we want black children to grow and learn in.” In his Black People!, the “paradise-lost” scene was depicted:

What about that bad short you saw last week on Frelinhuysen, or those stoves and refrigerators, record players in Sears, Bamberger’s, Klein’s, Hahnes’, Chase, and smaller joosh enterprises? What about the bad jewelry, on Washington Street, and those couple of shops on Springfield? You know how to get it, you can get it, no money down, no money never, money don’t grow on trees no way, only whitey’s got it, makes it with a machine, to control you, you cant steal nothing from a white man.

Now, even those stores, Sears, Macy’s, Klein’s, Hahnes’ and whatever enterprises have long gone and might never come back. The “paradise” has nothing, but Baraka’s and my anger. A young poet Candy Killion cries in her Urban Renewal, Newark (2005):

They stand at sweet attention, now
Condos tight and scrubbed,
Manicured and fertilized
On the hot-tarred rise where there was never grass,
Not when we know it.

Over there, see the swing set?
through decades of exhaust from the 21 bus,
back, further still, see the hill then:
houses burning, National Guard boys…
white and black and yellow and red
barely nineteen, some of them
crawling sweaty and confused in the gutters,
rifle muzzles erect through tinted windows,
waving at them into dreams of rice paddies

Molotov air, broken glass and screams are there still
Under the flowerbeds, under the new-set sod
Just as we knew it.

We knew it? Do we know that, once lost, the paradise will never come back? Maybe the crazy Ezra Pound, who died in an asylum, was right after all: “Can you, Newark, be thus, setting a fashion, But little known in our land?” We don’t really need a paradise, do we?

Ring in the New Year at The Coffee Cave

This in from a Newarker!  Still looking for something to do tonight?  Snow got you rethinking your plans to travel into the wild NJ countryside or take the hectic Path train into Manhattan?  The Coffee Cave, a new cafe and club, is hosting an event just a short walk/car ride/light rail trip downtown.
Have a great New Years and stay safe!

side-by-side-webversion

Still trying to make plans for New Year’s? Don’t feel like schlepping into the city? Wanna bring in 2009 with beautiful people?!

Sounds like you need to come to:
ALL ACCESS 2009: CELEBRITY SWAGGER
December 31, 2008
9pm – until
The Coffee Cave
45 Halsey Street
Newark, NJ 07102
_________________________________
wine, hors d’oeuvres all night
champagne toast at midnite
DJ Kalie & Max Jerome spinning house, hip hop and neo soul all night
$25 on guestlist; more at the door
byobrown juice

for more information, or to get on guestlist, email TheEliteGroupNJ@gmail.com

Book Review: Newark: A History of Race, Rights, and Riots in America

Newark: A History of Race, Rights, and RiotsKevin Mumford
NYU Press, 2007

In 1961 an integrated group of Newark CORE supporters gathered in Military Park to send off a continent of Freedom Riders who were sacrificing their time, money, and physical safety for civil rights. The destination was . . . . Chattanooga . . . Tennessee.

The Newark Freedom Riders were doing something brave and important, yet one has to wonder why the Newarkers were embarking on a 1,600 mile odyssey against racism when there was racism, no less intense or damaging, right in their very city. Robert Curvin, leader of Essex County CORE, wondered the exact same thing. Over the next few years Curvin would attempt, despite criticism from CORE’s national leadership, to focus the energy and money of Newark’s civil rights supporters on Newark.

Read the full review after the jump.

Continue reading “Book Review: Newark: A History of Race, Rights, and Riots in America”

Newark Lotto Mystery Solved

If you had a nagging feeling about the $126 million unclaimed lottery ticket from Seabra’s supermarket in the Ironbound, you can put those feelings to rest. The winners of the multi-million dollar jackpot have been found and presented their reward in Trenton: Union County couple collects Mega Millions jackpot.
The Ledger piece is a but sketchy on details — What kind of people are they? What took them so long to claim the prize? How do they plan to spend it? — but it offers a little closure if you had a sneaking suspicion you’d thrown away that golden ticket.

It’s a wonderful life — for life — for Mario and Clelia Lopes, a husband and wife from Union County who won $75.5 million in the July 22 Mega Millions lottery and came forward today to claim their prize.

The couple was presented the check at noon in Trenton as the highlight of a press conference hosted by state Treasurer R. David Rousseau and they New Jersey Lottery.

They speak only Portuguese and spoke through an interpreter at the press conference. Mario is a foreman for a construction contractor and Clelia is a homemaker.

Rushing to Your Death?

If I’ve drven past it once, I’ve driven past it a hundred times: the bright red billboard nestled in between factories in the Ironbound on my way up to the Pulaski Skyway, begging the question: am I rushing to my death?
Not that this was the strangest billboard I’d seen in Newark — goodness knows, we’ve had our fair share of odd ones — but, it certainly had the effect of puzzling my wife and I on our way into the city.

Today I stumbled over this piece in the Times about the billboard, an art installation by a Hoboken artist: On Its Face, Billboard Screams Message of Art.

The billboard is the work of Eliza Fernbach, a Hoboken artist who set it up in April as installation art. She chose to exhibit her work in this most unlikely of places, in the middle of what some might call the stretch of least beauty in the Garden State.

Her billboard may not stand out among the junk car lots and ironworks factories and fast-food establishments, and other billboards screaming out their commercial messages. Those who do glimpse it may not even know it was intended as art.

Westinghouse Project Exhibit Extended to Jan 17

The successful Westinghouse Project exhibit, which commemorates the fall of the Westinghouse plant on Lackawanna Ave and Orange St, will be extended into next year after the gallery is closed for a short period of time. Check out the note from Matt Gosser, the exhibit curator, below.

The Westinghouse Project has been so well received that we decided to extend the exhibit until January 17. In order to do this, we have to shut the gallery down until about December 8. Until then, I’ll be trying to update the website with photos of the artwork, video from an NJN broadcast and info about our closing celebration (so far…Saturday, Jan. 17 at 5pm).

If you haven’t visited the exhibition or if you want to check it out again (additional work is being added) or if you’d like to bring some friends, please do so Monday thru Friday (9am-5pm) between Dec.8 and Jan.17.

If you know anyone that worked at Westinghouse, I’m doing an oral history project. We’re also looking at the possibility of creating a catalog.