Panasonic Hearts Newark

How Panasonic learned to love Newark
Not the most ambitious aesthetic design, but Panasonic’s new downtown building boasts LEED environmental certification and shifting employee commutes from cars to public transit. A welcome presence.

There was also criticism that the state was paying too much to keep Panasonic from leaving, which Taylor says isn’t true when you consider the benefits. “Even after the $102.4 million tax break, the state would net a total of $223 million,” he says.

“Just moving 1000 people into the city overnight could create delicatessens, dry cleaners and a whole infrastructure that would convince other companies to take a chance on this place as well.”

(At the very least, I bet Don Pepe’s is happy.)

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.”

Newark Master Plan Forum

The City of Newark will be hosting two open forums on Wednesday, Dec 10 and Tuesday, Dec 16 to present the current Master Plan:
Master Plan Presentation. If you’ve got some thoughts on the city’s direction for its urban design, this is definitely a event you’ll want to check out!

In cooperation with the Newark Community Development Network, the Division of Planning and Community Development invite residents to attend two public meetings to discuss the proposed Master Plan Reexamination Report.

The city of Newark is hosting two discussions on this periodic Master Plan Reexamination Report. Its purpose is to review and evaluate the city’s Master Plan. In doing so, we will determine the need for updates and revisions to better guide Newark’s future development.

December 10, 2008
6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Bethany Baptist Church
275 West Market St.

December 16, 2008
6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Newark Public Library
5 Washington St.

Ferry Street to Get a Facelift


Ferry Street, the dining and shopping destination for the Ironbound, will be getting a facelift over the next several months. Fascade improvements include planters, lamps and brick crosswalk, similar to the work just completed at Broad and Market.

I have to admit: after living in the Ironbound for four years, the neighborhood definitely has a grittier feeling as you make your way down Ferry from Penn Station to the Five Corners. And there’s never anyplace to sit along the street unless you feel like stopping into a restaurant — meaning a lot of people are left sitting on corners or stoops.

These improvements should go a long way to make Ferry a much more habitable place for shoppers and diners.

  Before After
Ferry & Adams
Ferry & Van Buren

The $1.9 million project, funded by the City of Newark and the New Jersey Department of Transportation, will focus on Ferry Street. State-of-the-art sidewalks with planters and decorative lighting will be placed down Ferry Street from Union to Merchant Streets. These sidewalks will improve safety for motorists and pedestrians. Berto Construction of Rahway, New Jersey, is the contractor.

Continue reading “Ferry Street to Get a Facelift”

Reminder: Sit for a portrait this Friday and Saturday


Alone and Together: Tintype Portrait Studio at Gallery Aferro October 3 + 4th, 1-7 PM

email ewilcox@aferro.org for an appointment, or walk in.

Photographer Keliy Anderson-Staley is inviting the public to have their portrait taken at Gallery Aferro on October 3 and 4th from 1-7 PM. Sitters can come solo or with a loved one. The sittings are free. A print of the image is $10.

The downtown Newark area was once home to many portrait studios where people could come to have a high-quality portrait made. By photographing contemporary America, especially in diverse New Jersey, Keliy is compiling a beautifully made record of what we all really look like, using a classic process.

Keliy hopes to meet and photograph as many people as possible while she is in Newark. All are welcome!

This portrait series is made with the wet plate collodion process, the leading mode of photography in the 1850’s and 1860’s. Tintypes are positive images exposed onto metal. This historic process has a different relationship to time than digital or film photography. The chemistry is hand-mixed and poured onto the plate in front of the sitter. As soon as the exposure is made in the wooden view camera, the plate must be taken to a portable dark box to be developed and fixed. The wet plate collodion image captures a pose held over several seconds or even minutes. This prolonged gaze creates a tension between the sitter and the camera. While a snapshot captures a moment about a 1/1000 of a second long, the tintype process allows for a portrait of a person or a couple to unfold over time; the image produced can then slow down our looking. A viewer sees the hard lines of bone structure, wrinkles and blemishes, but also sees bright, focused eyes staring back intently. This process allows the photographer and the viewer to stare, but it is not entirely voyeuristic, as the sitter stares back. The act of taking someone’s portrait can once again be an event.

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Walking Tour – Oct 5th, 12:15

Hello, this is just a reminder that I’m leading a walking tour of Newark’s beautiful, historic Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Sunday, October 5th, at 12:15. Along with Fairmount Cemetery, Mt. Pleasant was the place for affluent 19th century Newarkers to be buried, so if you want to connect with Frelinghuysens, Ballantines, Kinneys, Drydens, and more, this is your chance.
Mt. Pleasant Cemetery is on a very attractive, somewhat spooky, 36 acres. Though it might seem odd to visit a cemetery today for anything but a burial, Victorians frequently visited their dead, and hence, invested a great deal of thought and money in their funerary monuments. Please come and appreciate this incredibly historic site.

More information is available at my website, www.newarkhistory.com.

Opening at Gallery Aferro this Saturday 7-10

Please join us for the opening of two new exhibitions:
Outside Over There
Fourth in the annual urbanism exhibition series curated by Emma Wilcox

Dwell, Robert Lach, Project Room

September 27 – November 22, 2008 Opening Reception September 27, 7-10 PM

Gallery Aferro 73 Market St Newark NJ

Will Work for Food by KH Jeron
Bring a can of food to barter with robots. All proceeds to be donated to Newark food banks

Outside Over There is an exhibition, as well as a food drive and a portrait studio. It is inspired by the signals traveling in the airspace of cities worldwide, and the ability of these signals to penetrate structures, by transmissions, codings and exchanges of ideology and consumer goods, interactions real and imagined, between more and less industrialized nations, including the cargo cult and the syndication of TV programming.

Artists: Keliy Anderson-Staley, Mireille Astore, Martin John Callanan, Karlos Carcamo, Margarida Correia,Susan E. Evans, Judith Hoffman, KH Jeron, Tamara Kostianovsky, Charles Huntley Nelson, Anne Percoco, Dorothy Schultz, Jeff Sims, Peter Tuomey Jr, Tammy Jo Wilson

The impending end of nondigital TV has evoked for some class and cultural divisions within America. By repairing TVs with reed thatch from the NJ meadowlands, Anne Percoco suggests such divisions, as well
as the complexity of a globalized economy.

Charles Huntley Nelson’s video, “Why Not on TV” questions the presentations of African Americans on television in relationship to their actual history and present realities, and is narrated by an
omniscient visitor who may be a space alien.

Photographer Keliy Anderson-Staley will be operating a tintype portrait studio in the gallery on Oct 3rd and 4th. Sitters can come solo or with a loved one. The sittings are free. A print of the image is $10. Made with the wet plate collodion process, the leading mode of photography in the 1850’s and 1860’s, the portraits echo downtown Newark’s past density of commercial portrait studio’s, while picturing the diversity of modern urban NJ.

For more information please contact Emma Wilcox ewilcox@aferro.org

Major Boost for Newark Schools

If you didn’t pick up this month’s issue of New Jersey Monthly, be sure to grab a copy before they leave newsstands. Two Newark high schools — Science Park and University — made the list of the state’s top 75 public high schools. Science (#50) has appeared on the listing before, and moved up three slots from #53 the last time the ranking was done. But the magazine gave major props to University High School (#63), because it ranked among the most improved high schools. It moved up a stunning 80 slots to achieve its ranking this year.
All of the schools were ranked based on the size of their senior classes, average SAT scores, number of AP tests offered, the percentage of students scoring ‘3’ or better on AP tests, and other factors.

University High School was featured in a smaller sidebar, and has an interview with former principal Roger Leon. He is now Newark’s assistant superintendent for high schools. I don’t have a teenager enrolled at either school, but I think this is an awesome piece of news for Newark parents. I went to a magnet high school in Paterson, my hometown, so I was especially impressed with University’s approach to a humanities-based high school education. Sure, sure, I might have come down with a bit of ‘magnet school nostalgia’ (or envy) and put an undue amount of pressure on my sister to go to that school. It didn’t work, because she ended up at the equally impressive St. Vincent Academy. But can you blame me now? Sometimes it’s a good thing to be a helicopter parent. Or sister.

AND the North Star Academy was featured in a separate story about charter schools in the state. Read the article, you’ll pick up on some interesting facts that are sometimes over looked in the debate on school choice.

One of the major items on people’s wish list for the City of Newark is “better schools.” Betters school so that their kids can compete with the best in the state, country and the world at top universities and beyond. Better schools so that their house values will improve nicely, allowing them to sell and come out ahead. Better schools for all types of reasons. For now, though, Newarkers have three solid talking points as to why this is a city of choice in which to live, not a default pick.

Lastly, in another major boost to urban education, McNair Academic in Jersey City placed second on the list — right behind Millburn high school.

We’re Not Losing Our Mayor to D.C.

Newsday carried a little item about Mayor Cory Booker’s plans to head to D.C., should Sen. Barack Obama win the presidential election. Specifically he says that he’s not leaving Newark. Of course, that won’t satisfy any the skeptics who insist that he’s using Newark as a stepping stone to further his political career, and that even if he keeps crime low, improves the schools, attracts development and empowers people to change their lives for the better, that kind of ambition makes him a bad, bad person.

Booker told The Associated Press in January that he wouldn’t be interested in a Cabinet position if one were offered. On Wednesday, he reiterated that sentiment, saying there’s “no way” he’d leave Newark.

He’s just past the midpoint of his first term in office, and is up for re-election in 2010.

Booker has campaigned for Obama in several states, and recently attended the Democratic convention in Denver.

Tintype Portrait Studio coming to Downtown Newark


Alone and Together: Tintype Portrait Studio at Gallery Aferro
October 3 + 4th, 1-7 PM

Photographer Keliy Anderson-Staley is inviting the public to have their portrait taken at Gallery Aferro on October 3 and 4th from 1-7 PM. Sitters can come solo or with a loved one. The sittings are free. A print of the image is $10.

The downtown Newark area was once home to many portrait studios where people could come to have a high-quality portrait made. By photographing contemporary America, especially in diverse New Jersey, Keliy is compiling a beautifully made record of what we all really look like, using a classic process.

Keliy hopes to meet and photograph as many people as possible while she is in Newark. All are welcome!

This portrait series is made with the wet plate collodion process, the leading mode of photography in the 1850’s and 1860’s. Tintypes are positive images exposed onto metal. This historic process has a different relationship to time than digital or film photography. The chemistry is hand-mixed and poured onto the plate in front of the sitter. As soon as the exposure is made in the wooden view camera, the plate must be taken to a portable dark box to be developed and fixed. The wet plate collodion image captures a pose held over several seconds or even minutes. This prolonged gaze creates a tension between the sitter and the camera. While a snapshot captures a moment about a 1/1000 of a second long, the tintype process allows for a portrait of a person or a couple to unfold over time; the image produced can then slow down our looking. A viewer sees the hard lines of bone structure, wrinkles and blemishes, but also sees bright, focused eyes staring back intently. This process allows the photographer and the viewer to stare, but it is not entirely voyeuristic, as the sitter stares back. The act of taking someone’s portrait can once again be an event.