Gallery Aferro, Main Gallery
September 24 – December 17, 2016
Opening Reception Saturday September 24, 7-10pm

Reception featuring song and spoken word by Emily Turonis and Kween Moore

Gallery Aferro and the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience open major exhibition on Newark’s legendary public art

In Memory of Kea Tawana 1940 – 2016

Emma Wilcox 1(973)539-0290 ewilcox@aferro.org
Mark Krasovic 1(973)353-1051 krasovic@rutgers.edu

Kea Tawana’s Ark, a three-story wooden boat that rose above Newark NJ’s Central Ward, was only extant for five years, from 1982-1987. Yet hundreds of people have come forward during the past year to share their vivid memories of the ark, which was built by one woman out of salvaged pieces of city houses, churches, schools, and factories. In much the same manner, Gallery Aferro and the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University – Newark have “built” an exhibit out of the carefully gathered, surviving pieces of an incredible true story: archival press and TV broadcast footage; ephemera from private and public collections; photographs from artists, journalists, and family photo albums; new oral history recordings; maps and geographic data; and previously un-exhibited examples of Kea’s artwork, writings, and objects, including a collection of handmade stained glass windows and a set of blueprints for a utopian city, combine to create an immersive experience deep in a complicated story.

While the exhibit is the culmination of a large-scale research and oral history project, it is generative and interactive in nature. By the December 17th closing reception, new content created by members of the public will have been added to a community archive documenting Kea’s Ark. That content will include a virtual exhibit component created with help from 200 NJ girl scouts; a “radio play,” comprised of Facebook comments about the ark and inspired by Kea’s skill at making and using homemade radios, will be given voice by community actors; and, of course, a diverse and expanding collection of oral histories generated by the ongoing call for memories of the ark.

As a community archive, the project is guided by the way that current and former Newarkers compare memories of the ark in call and response rounds of online and in-person conversation, sometimes working through to consensus, and sometimes not. The exhibit and archive will not lay claim to “a definitive official version” of the story. Instead, they honor a multiplicity of perspectives, the endurance and complications of memory, and the ways in which one individual’s gesture inspired and informed multiple lives.

The exhibit is ultimately as much about the present and future as it is about the past. One oral history respondent vividly recalls Kea urging neighborhood residents to purchase properties in the Central Ward, even as the popular wisdom of the day indicated that these properties were low in value. This prophecy of future displacement for working-class people in postindustrial cities, connects powerfully to current national debates about gentrification, artwashing, creative placemaking, affordable housing, and the creative class theories of Richard Florida, as well as Martha Rosler’s critiques of those theories.

The empty lots on which the ark stood are now surrounded by low- and middle-income townhomes. That such housing was and is still much needed in Newark, and that local residents nonetheless remember and celebrate the Ark, points to the complex networks of desires and needs that have shaped urban redevelopment and it architectural forms over the past thirty years. At a time when so much of Newark’s built environment was being demolished and replaced, the Ark constituted a large-scale piece of protest architecture, a critique — in the very materials and methods of its construction — of the structures rising up around it as the city transitioned from postwar public-modern structures (especially high-rise public housing) to neoliberal, individual-family structures (especially townhomes). As a laboratory for trends in urban renewal, Newark boasts an impressive catalog of building styles both extant (from a neoclassical county courthouse to Mies van der Rohe’s modernist Colonnade apartments) and absent (Kawaida Towers, Kea’s Ark). The ark can be seen as Newark’s version of the Watts Towers (Los Angeles, extant), Broken Angel (Brooklyn, absent), or the Heidelberg Project (Detroit, being dismantled during 2016-17).

Kea’s practice of assembling salvaged, disparate, and repaired elements into the ark continued in later artworks, which powerfully evoke continued engagement with loss, memory, protest, and resilience. Objects being publicly exhibited for the first time include more than 30 handmade stained glass windows that extend the vernacular of the black church in Newark, and an extraordinary set of locking cabinets, reminiscent of Joseph Cornell’s works. Using intricate coding systems still being studied and deciphered, and associative combinations of repurposed and original images and texts, Kea’s later works, like the ark, are simultaneously nonlinear autobiographical narrative and cultural commentary on life in urban America.

The public is invited to explore the meaning and significance of this quintessential Newark story through the exhibit as well as connected public programming, with additional speakers and activities to be announced throughout the fall:

Saturday September 24, 7-10pm:

Opening reception with song and spoken word by Emily Turonis and Kween Moore

October 21 @ 8pm, Dance performance by Storyboard P

November 5 @ 2pm, Locating the Ark Part 1:

Discussion with Richard Cammarieri, Sharon Zukin, Caitlin Tucker-Melvin, Torkwase Dyson, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Julia Rabig, and others to be announced.

November 7 @ 6:30pm, Ark of Bones:

Reading and Discussion of the late Henry Dumas’s short story “Ark of Bones” with writers, critics and poets Evie Shockey and Carter Mathes (Rutgers-New Brunswick) and John Keene (Rutgers-Newark). In collaboration with the Department of African American and African Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. Free, but registration is required at eventbrite.com

November 12 @ 5pm, Locating the Ark Part 2:

Screenings and Discussion with Margot Niederland, Broken Angel, and Tiona McClodden/Harriet’s Gun Media, KILO | Iba se 99.

December 17 @ 3pm, Closing Reception and 8th Annual Potluck

Listening party for radio play, and performance by Newark Boys Chorus, and other guests.

This fall and winter, join us to talk about art and aesthetics, equity, community self-determination, civic disinvestment, gentrification, shelter, urban planning, beauty, utility and the control of public space, public art, and artist-built and vernacular architecture. Walk up to the hacked payphone in the middle of the gallery, pick up the receiver, and listen to the stories being told: the 1980’s are calling.


Book a free tour for your group to explore Kea’s Ark of Newark: a Life in Works. Gallery Aferro has hosted tours for a wide range of groups, including schools, colleges, senior groups, professional and civic associations, recovery programs, and many others. Contact Gallery Aferro at info@aferro.org to inquire.


Anyone wishing to share their own story of the Ark should send a message to keas.ark@gmail.com or call Emma Wilcox at the ark hotline 973-536-0290, we continue to collect stories.


Community members of all ages and timbres are invited to contribute to an original play written by Dr. Mark Krasovic based on Facebook discussion about the ark. To get involved please contact keas.ark@gmail.com

For more information about Gallery Aferro visit http://www.aferro.org

For more information about the Clement A. Price Institute visit http://ethnicity.rutgers.edu

This program is funded by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the New Jersey Historical Commission; and a generous donation from Warren Grover. We gratefully acknowledge everyone who has and continues to support and contribute to this project, most notably, Up Front Exhibition Space, Port Jervis, NY.

Image: Camille Billops


Lost In Time

Curated by Evonne M. Davis
Photographic works from the collection of LG Carpenter and Katherine McGlynn
Gallery Aferro, Liminal Gallery

Rise And Shine

Curated by Alicia Robinson
Gallery Aferro, Liminal Gallery
October 21st – December 17th, 2016
Opening Reception October 21st 5-9pm

More info coming soon!


October 21st – November 12th
Opening Reception October 21st 5-9pm

Gallery Aferro presents a series of solo and group exhibitions as part of Newark Open Doors City Wide Arts Festival celebrations!

@ 77 Market Street, 1st Floor

Multiple Representations of Interdimensional Realities

Gary Barat

Linking Blind Spots

Ji Sun Beak

Gravity and Other Fistfights

Mike Benevenia

Vanishing Point

Zahra Nazari

Velocity of Minds

Kwan Taeck Park

Slab Sculptures and Ink Paintings

Anker West

@ 77 Market Street, 2nd Floor

Portrait of Newark

350 Selections from the Gallery Aferro
Mobile Portrait Studio

Keliy Anderson-Staley: The Newark Tintypes

Newark Leaders: LGBTIQ Portraits by Tamara Fleming

The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project:

Selected Color Prints by Colleen Gutwein


Super 8

8th Annual Art Auction and Party
June 11th @ Gallery Aferro, 73 Market Street, Newark, NJ
VIP Preview 6pm – 7pm
Auction 7pm – 9:30pm
Afterparty 10pm -???

If you cannot attend, but would like to donate to support, please do so here!

Gallery Aferro is excited to announce the 8th Annual Benefit Art Auction and Party on June 11th, 2016. This festive event features an exciting auction of hundreds of artworks by emerging and established artists, live music, fun activities including interactive performances, strong signature cocktails and icy beer, fine catering, and dozens of wonderful door and raffle prizes!

All proceeds from tickets and purchases make possible Gallery Aferro’s year-round exhibitions, award-winning artist residencies, publications, education program, public art initiatives, and ongoing expansion. Stay tuned via our email list, Facebook and Instagram as the excitement builds.

*Tickets purchased at the event will be slightly higher. Advance ticket purchase option will be available until June 10th, end of day.

HYC WeAreForever FRONT low res


Images through the eyes of homeless photographers

Gallery Aferro, Liminal Gallery
May 26th – June 11th, 2016
Opening Reception, May 26th 5-7pm

Photographs taken by homeless photographers in Newark will be on display at the Gallery Aferro from May 26th through June 11th, with a gallery opening on May 26th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Bridges’ Project Connect brought homeless photographers and professional photographer Akintola Hanif, founder/editor-in-chief of HYCIDE magazine together to capture images as seen through the eyes of the homeless. The six month project, “We Are Forever,” culminates in this exhibit of approximately 30 curated photographs. All photographs will be on sale through the Bridges website, with the proceeds going to the photographers.

The catalyst for this project was a similar project in Paris, France, which received international publicity. In June 2015, Bridges received a grant from the Arts Council of Newark to give digital cameras to people in Newark who are homeless so that they could express their world through photography. The ultimate goal of the project was to give voice to homeless people in Newark. For six months the homeless photographers and Akintola Hanif worked together, with Hanif providing leadership and mentorship to the novices. A photojournalist and filmmaker, Akintola Hanif’s photography and film projects have been featured in such venues as RUSH Arts Gallery, MoCADA Museum, Columbia University, Princeton University, The Metropolitan Museum, the Newark Museum and the Guggenheim Museum. Lois Bhatt, Executive Director of Bridges noted that, “The interaction between Akintola and the photographers was genuine, respectful and inspiring.”

“For me this wore more than an exchange of photography skills, this was an exchange of love. HYCIDE Bridges photography program has been one of my most humbling and fulfilling experiences in my career as a photographer. I don’t see my students as homeless people I see them for their hearts and intentions and that is the place we connected from.” says Hanif.

In 1988, Bridges launched its first mobile outreach, and began to bring food, clothing and necessities to the homeless living on the streets of New York City. In March 2014, Bridges opened “Project Connect” at St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark to provide case management services to assess the complete needs of the homeless client and to provide administrative and financial support to acquire a NJ State ID (the first step in rebuilding a life), links to physical and mental healthcare, jobs and housing.

All are welcome to attend the opening reception of “We Are Forever” on Thursday, May 26th, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Gallery Aferro, 73 Market Street, Newark, or to visit the exhibit through June 11th.

Jahmal_2 for web

To My Father

Gabriel García Román
Curated by Evonne M. Davis

Gallery Aferro, Main Gallery
March 30th – May 21st, 2016
Opening Reception, April 2nd, 7-10pm
Artist Talk and Performance, May 21st, 6pm

Gallery Aferro is pleased to present Gabriel García Román’s first solo show, To My Father. Roman has already garnered national press for his stunning chine-collé and photogravure portraits of LGBT/non-conforming activists, poets, and artists of color, depicting his subjects as contemporary Queer Icons. Finding inspiration in portraiture styles of Renaissance, Flemish and Christian Orthodox paintings, the series aims to elevate these multi-dimensional, powerful and proud contemporary figures and give visibility to a population generally underrepresented in the art world. From the queer Latina fighting for immigration rights to the non-binary disabled Trans Filipino, Roman portrays these “outsiders” as central to the narrative, just like saints—figures that are inherently worthy of attention, emulation, and storytelling. Much like traditional religious paintings conferred a sense of safety and meditative calm on a home; the works in this series aspire to provide a similar sense of refuge that’s drawn from the inner grace of the subjects and projected outwards onto a world that might not always be safe.

Gabriel García Román was born in Zacatecas, Mexico in 1973 and raised in Chicago. He received his B.A. in studio art at The City College of New York. Garcia is a photo-based artist and craftsman. As an artist, he’s constantly looking for ways to counteract the flatness that’s inherent to photography: weaving, folding, cutting, interlacing prints or collaging are all different attempts at realizing that goal. Photography allows him to explore aspects of his identity and decode the world he lives in. Queer. Mexican. American. Immigrant. Secular. Catholic.

To My Father also includes works from another series, Defining You, hand-woven intricate images where the warp is a studio portrait and the weft is a collage of images selected from the subject’s childhood photo albums—images that speak to formative experiences or simply conjure up memories they’d like to relive. The unique woven patterns echo DNA structures that depict how our experiences are intertwined with our identity. This weaving can also be considered the embodiment of the artist’s own experience as a bicultural immigrant through which old and new ideals are merged into one. In titling the exhibit, there is an acknowledgement that the artist’s diverse body of work is indebted to his father’s insatiable curiosity. As a child, he eagerly watched as his father took apart countless items and put them back together in order to see how they worked. This inability to remain still, combined with perpetual tinkering and fiddling with things, instilled in the artist a similar curiosity that finds its embodiment in an ever-expanding artistic vocabulary.

Educators and activity planners are encouraged to contact the gallery to book a free tour of the exhibits for their youth or adult groups.

Jaither West for web

I Guess It Wouldn’t Matter If
I Stayed A B-Boy The Rest Of My Life

Jaither West
Curated by Evonne M. Davis

Gallery Aferro, Liminal Gallery
March 30th – May 21st, 2016
Opening Reception, April 2nd, 7-10pm
Closing Reception, May 21st, 6pm

Jaither West (b. 1988) is a self-taught painter living and working in Philadelphia. His work focuses on his everyday life—from famous personalities like Michael Jackson and John F. Kennedy to the individuals he sees every day on his commute. West often incorporates his daily activities and experiences into his paintings through the presence of himself breakdancing or through his densely rendered paintings and drawings of his SEPTA commute. West has studied at Temple University and Fleisher Art Memorial and has participated in group exhibitions at Frame Works Gallery, AIRspace, Neighborhood Bikeworks, F & N Gallery, Fringe Salon and Art in City Hall as well as solo exhibitions at OCF Café and Starbucks in Philadelphia.

Jaither West is represented by Art|Works, a program of Community Integrated Services, Philadelphia, PA, that provides professional support to working artists with disabilities.

Unseen Unspoken Promo

Unseen and Unspoken
Evonne Davis and Emma Wilcox

The Propect St. Firestation Gallery
56 Prospect St, Newark, NJ
April 10 – May 26, 2016
Opening Reception April 10th 3-5pm

EVONNE DAVIS and EMMA WILCOX have worked together for more than 10 years as co-founders of Gallery Aferro, showcasing the work of local, national and international artists. Each also has their own distinctive practice as a working artist. Unseen and Unspoken is an outtake from an ongoing dialogue between life, art, and place.

Our thanks to www.sumei.org

EITOW graphic for web

Everyone In Their Own Way

A Group Exhibition Surveying Gallery Aferro’s Studio Residency
Curated by Alex Scott Cumming and Jacob L Mandel

Arts Guild of New Jersey
1670 Irving Street, Rahway, NJ 07065
March 20th – April 14th 2016
Opening Reception Sunday March 20th 1-4pm

The dichotomy of artist to work is mirrored in the concept of artist residency to artist. The process each artist embarks upon defines their product, while their participation in a residency program defines the community and history of that residency. In today’s political and social climate, there are innumerable pressures to pursue a career in just about any field besides fine art, yet artists are compulsively drawn to work, to their need for expression. In the face of these pressures, artists continue to create. Gallery Aferro’s Studio Residency has provided artists access to creative space and community for over 10 years. The residency makes the artist’s process possible on a scale that might otherwise not be possible. Each artist works to define a vision of creativity and expression, while Gallery Aferro works to provide an outlet for these artists, both in terms of productivity and access to community engagement. Everyone In Their Own Way is a look into the reciprocating relationships between community, process, cultural content, and artist.

Katrina Bello
Marcy Chevali
Hal Laessig
Yoland Skeete
Lizzy Storm
Amanda Thackray
Ambika Trasi

kiss detail

Speaking In Tongues

Jo-El Lopez
Curated by Evonne Davis

Gallery Aferro, Main Gallery
January 27th – March 12th, 2016
Opening Reception, January 30th, 7-10pm
Artist Talk and Closing Reception, March 12th, 4pm

Gallery Aferro is pleased to present a major solo show by New Jersey-based painter Jo-El Lopez. Born in Juncos, Puerto Rico and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, Lopez uses the visual storytelling of traditional realism to convey complex commentary on the intersection of faith and modernity, the strength of family, and the multidimensional contemporary urban experience in his very first solo show, Speaking In Tongues. The decades the artist spent under the Pentecostal doctrine, a bold color palette informed by both abstract painting as well as older traditions of icon-making, all meld to create Lopez’s kaleidoscopic worldview. The collection of artworks on view from January 27 – March 12, 2016 reveal a restless, deeply engaged spirit closely observing not only his immediate environment, but the larger historic trajectory of national news.

Lopez asserts, “Originally, I studied business and fine arts at Kean University and at Montclair State University and was prepared for a life in the corporate arena. But my life’s journey has led me back to artmaking and my true passion. My work shows my voyage from that life choice to now.” In just four years since leaving the business world to focus on art, Lopez’s work has appeared regularly in tri-state area exhibtions at The Bronx Art Center, Gallery Aferro, The Center for Contemporary Art, New Jersey City State University Gallery, Rupert Raven Contemporary, and Jersey City’s City Hall.

Speaking In Tongues assaults the senses: acid greens, bright pinks, and golden tones vibrate against each other. The artist’s instantly recognizable sense of irony, the wit that is at turns ruthless and affectionate, can be seen in works such as “The Kiss at the 16th Avenue Baptist Church,” “The Black Face Jesus,” and “The Virgin Miracle.” Yet in works like “Walking on Water,” Lopez tackles his subject with restraint and reduced composition to compliment the visceral sentiments of life’s journey. There is a willingness to reveal yearning, and a desire for emotional transparency. Racial and ethnic identity, gender and sexual politics, and parallel as well as conflicting cultural traditions and narratives all are in play when Lopez turns his attention to a new canvas.

White promo low res


Woodley White

Gallery Aferro, Liminal Gallery
January 27th – March 12th, 2016
Opening Reception, January 30th, 7-10pm
Closing Reception, March 12th

Woodley White (b. 1983) creates artwork that shows a keen eye for detail and a passion for his subject matter. It is not uncommon for Woodley to draw the same subject hundreds of times across all media and on various surfaces. Each aspect of Woodley’s work is deeply considered, from the placement on the page to the intense line quality. The repetitive nature of his work conveys Woodley’s passion for his subject matter and the focus of his observation. White’s work has recently begun to include portraits of people found in books and magazines. White has shown his work throughout Philadelphia, including exhibitions at AIRspace and the InLiquid exhibition space at Crane Arts.

Woodley White is represented by Art|Works, a program of Community Integrated Services, Philadelphia, PA, that provides professional support to working artists with disabilities.