Garrido Transformation Art Piece for Home Page

So What

Curated by Jo-El Lopez

October 5th – November 17th, 2018

Opening Reception October 5th 7-10pm

Eleta J. Caldwell and Rodney M. Gilbert Memorial Gallery

Whether inviting to the eye or to the ear, what is the purpose of art if not to evoke? So What, the opening track of Miles Davis’ — and jazz’s most famous — album, Kind of Blue, dares to answer that question.

While deceptively simplistic in structure, So What’s sophistication lies within the measured ease of its three soloists. In the case of So What: A Visual Interpretation, curator Jo-El Lopez makes a similar statement about what happens when a group of visual artists are given the same piece of music to examine and reimagine?

In this exhibition, each artist’s work independently represents a cross section of styles, political platforms, and purpose. And with Lopez’s curatorial approach at the helm, the show presents itself as the perfect unification of visual art and interpretation of sound.

Participating Artists:
Anonda Bell
Michael Endy
Asha Ganpat
France Garrido
Steve Green
Geri Hahn
Red the Philosopher
Jillian M. Rock
Bleriot Mendel Thompson

Image by France Garrido.


Portraits of People We Love



Curated by Sarah McCann

October 5th – November 17th, 2018

Opening Reception October 5th 7-10p

Gallery Aferro Main Gallery

Portraits of People We Love is an exhibition curated by Sarah McCann in which she invited artists to create work that depicts a person or persons each artist loves. This love may be platonic, familial, romantic; someone they only know in passing, but are overjoyed exist in the world; someone they have never met, but appreciate in the deepest, most meaningful way or any and all other forms of love.

As human beings we struggle to find love — we enter into and attempt to maintain relationships, find romantic love, give love and love ourselves. This exhibition explores our continual pursuit for love, even when that love causes us pain.

The work included in this exhibition embraces portraiture in many forms: Each artist has interpreted what a portrait means to them. The exhibition has traveled from Baltimore to Gallery Aferro in Newark, NJ, in a new iteration. This version features many artists included in the first, bringing them together with artists from Newark and the surrounding area. A community wall also features additional portraits of people who are loved by young people in Newark, gallery visitors and the general public.

Participating Artists:

Colin Campbell (Montreal)

Schroeder Cherry (Baltimore)

Nicoletta Darita De La Brown (Baltimore)

Aiden Dillard (Newark/NYC)

Gladys Barker Grauer (Newark)

Tiffany Jones (Baltimore)

Ken Krafchek (Baltimore)

Jo-El Lopez (Newark)

dominic t. moulden (Baltimore/DC)

Paula Phillips (Baltimore)

Kern Samuel (Newark)

Christine Stiver (Baltimore)

Genesis Tramaine (Newark)

Malik Whitaker (Newark)

Layqa Nuna Yawar (Newark)

Image by Nicoletta Darita De La Brown.

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Elevator Music 5: Thomas Chupela

Elevator Installation, 2nd Floor Gallery Aferro


Curated by Juno Zago

July 14th – September 8th, 2018

Opening Reception July 14th 7-10pm @ Gallery Aferro

Thomas Chupela is a multimedia artist that works with sound, photography, and collage. For his sound work, he often transports sounds of the natural environment and everyday life into the “VC Environment” of synthesizers. Recent works include experimentation with various synthesizers and field recordings to construct new sonic landscapes intended to initiate altered perspectives on overlooked sounds related to the minutiae of everyday life.

Amoeba Rock is comprised of a field recording from the Ramapo Reservation in October 2016 mixed with instrumentation from a Moog synthesizer recorded in December 2017. It is the first installment of a collection of sound collages that are intended to create minimalist ambient soundtracks to the sounds of everyday life.

Elevator Music is a continuous rotation of experimental sound art curated for the permanent installation on the 2nd floor of Gallery Aferro. The installation is comprised of a very early Otis Elevator (single digit) from the early 1900s excavated from the basement of Gallery Aferro’s facilities at 73 Market Street. The elevator was cleaned up, refurbished, and equipped with a motion sensor activated media player. Guests enter the elevator and the audio-works are activated, analogous to the ways we may enter a functioning elevator ready to deliver us to our desired (or undesired) destination.

Elevator Music is a space where audio works can become accessible within a visual arts gallery experience. Over the years, the installation has taken on many forms, from musical mixtapes to experimental “studio sounds.” The original Elevator Music, Aferro Publication #17 juried by artist Adam Trowbridge, was intended for permanent loop in the Gallery’s freight elevator before the entombed passenger elevator was even discovered. Currently in it’s fifth iteration, Elevator Music has been curated by Spencer Frohwirth, Dahlia Elsayed, Jacob Lawrence Mandel, and Juno Zago. Entering Elevator Music brings the viewer to a new, personal space to listen and reflect on alternative forms of creative expression.


Share My World

Curated by Sharde Hickenbottom


July 14th – September 8th, 2018

Opening Reception July 14th 7-10pm

Gallery Aferro Main Gallery

Participating Artists:

Sydneii Cee

Gerald Cyrus

Rain Demetri

Lorena Endara

Jerry Gant

Lyn Harris

Keith Jackson

Soutaine Jobson

Kera Ling

Kya Lou

Jada Imani M

Nell Painter

Radiant Perspective Collective

Myron Rogan

Jahi Sabater

Petra Shrieves


Sarah Treharne

James Westray

What it means to be a human being is often hard to define. Images coming from the western hemisphere have often associated black women with servility, enragement, and unattractiveness. The continuous consumption of these narrow-minded images leads to a world programmed to identify that demographic in those ways. What is required to reverse this line of thinking is inclusive and diverse subjectivity.

The idea behind Share My World is about resisting the complacency in visual representation within American art. The show brings together a group of artists interested in challenging antiquated conceptions of beauty and sensuality. This group of artists are in pursuit of seeing more, unrestrained, diverse images of black women.

Image by Keith Jackson.


Come As You Are

Gallery Aferro’s 10th Annual Benefit Art Auction and Party


June 16th, 2018

7-10pm @ 73 Market Street, Newark, NJ

VIP Preview 6PM – 7PM

Auction 7PM – 9:30PM

Advance ticket sales have ended. Please buy tickets on Saturday June 16 at the door. Thank you so much!

Gallery Aferro Celebrates 15th Anniversary as an Alternative Art Space with COME AS YOU ARE Benefit Art Auction and Party Honoring James Abruzzo

Gallery Aferro is ecstatic to announce our best ever benefit art auction and party, and invites everyone to join us to celebrate this milestone anniversary for your very own proudly artist-run space in Newark, NJ. Unlike any other gala, our event features an exciting auction of hundreds of artworks by emerging and established artists, live music in four languages by Joya Angola Thompson, Nadine LaFond, and Emily Turonis, strong summer cocktails and delicious catering reflecting NJ’s magnificent demographic diversity, including a homemade artisan ice cream bar, and an array of door prizes including getaway packages and a lavish table overflowing with art supplies from Jerry’s Artist Outlet, our lead raffle sponsor. Other prizes include Dancing lessons from Arthur Murray Dance Studio Montclair, gift certificates from Barcade, Fairway, Fabricland and Wegmans, a getaway portrait sitting and stay in Westchester, NY or Palm Beach, FL from Bradford Portraits, dining and VIP Flamenco experiences from Mompou and the Ironbound Business Improvement District, and gift sets from Java Love, Redd’s Biergarten, and Newark Authors Mark Krasovic, Barbara Kukla, Nell Painter, Yoland Skeete, and Malik Whitaker.

Donating artists include Loren Abbate, Dara Alter, Anna Arcuri, Nora Evita Aresti, Cris Aroca, Aliza Augustine, Frank w. Augustine, Kate Bae, Milcah Bassel, Aileen Bassis, Anonda Bell, Michael Benevenia, Spencer Binondo, Mashell Black, Winifred Boss, Joseph Boss, Ash Castillo, Gerardo Castro, Patricia Cazorla, Gwen Charles, Janelle Clements, CAConforti, Cicely Cottingham, Patricia Dahlman and Michael Dal Cerro, Deslyn Dorsett, Mia Duran, Kevin Durkin, Anne Dushanko Dobek, Kate Eggleston, Amy Faris, Moni, Susan Gepford, Marsha Goldberg, M. Gosser, Commodore, Geri Hahn, Katie Hector, Aurel Hoxha, Tenjin Ikeda, Sky Kim, Robert Lach, Meredith Lawhead, Niki Lederer, Les Ayre, Wendy Letven, Laura Lou Levy, Katelyn Liepins, Niyani Lingham-Green, Niyani Simone, Jo-El Lopez, Laurie M., Stephen McKenzie, Anne Q. McKeown, Alejandra Munizaga, Margaret Murphy, Elisa Nadzieja, Renana Neuman, Suliman Onque, Nell Painter, Diana Palermo, Alissa Rose, Lucia Pizzani, Elisa Pritzker, Mün Lün Kir Sa, Lola, Celeste Regal, Anna Reid, Victor Reynolds, Patricia Reynolds, Ann Rosen, Joanne Ross, Wayne Charles Roth, Kern Samuel, Fausto Sevila, Laura Taveras, Bleriot, MollieThonneson, Dread Scott Eric Valosin, Mary A. Valverde, Christian Anthony Vigoya, Alejandra Villasmil, Joe Waks, Barbara Wallace, Anker West, Eleanor White, Gail Winbury, Michael Wolf, Christina Wolf, Layqa Nuna Yawar, Juno Zago.

We gratefully acknowledge event supporters Rutgers-Newark University, James and Lorraine Abruzzo, NJPAC, The LL Group at Merrill Lynch, and NJ Asset Management.

Our 2018 Honoree James Abruzzo is a life-long influencer and supporter of the arts. Over his thirty-plus years as a professional consultant to arts organizations he helps to strengthen the arts in America and abroad by training, mentoring, recruiting, and coaching leaders of nonprofit organizations, providing strategy, compensation and search consulting, and serving on a number of arts boards. As Global Head, Nonprofit Practice of DHR International, he leads a team whose clients include NGOs, cultural organizations, foundations, social service and educational institutions throughout the world. In 2003, James relocated the DHR New Jersey executive search office to Newark and has recruited the CEOs for NJPAC, NJSO, the Newark Museum, Newark Symphony Hall and the Newark Library.   He also created Gallery One, located in the office at One Raymond Blvd, where he presented a number of one-person shows featuring, among others, Victor Davson, Nancy Cohen and Katherine Parker. Gallery One was part of Newark Open Doors.

In 2004, James co-created the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School. The Institute provides leadership training to nonprofit executives, including Aferro Gallery’s two leaders, Evonne and Emma.   In addition to his affiliation at Rutgers, James has taught in the arts management graduate programs at Columbia University, the University of Bologna and the Institute for Culture and Media Management at the Free University in Berlin. Through those associations and through mentoring, James has influenced three generations of students who are now leading organizations in the sector. He has devoted special attention to identifying, training, mentoring and promoting arts leaders from underrepresented communities and at the IEL created the Cultural and Ethnic Arts Leadership Program. His writings and presentations on the business and ethics of the arts may be found at http://www.jamesabruzzo.net

Trained as a classical pianist, James enjoys a life-long professional and personal interest in the arts – he served long stints on the board of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Foundation and as chairman of Dieu Donne Paper Mill and today serves on the boards of the Saul Steinberg Foundation and the Global Friends of Netherlands Dance Theater.   James continues to influence the nonprofit sector through his leadership at DHR and through his compensation consulting to boards and presidents of nonprofit organizations.  In his leisure time, James practices the piano and plays tennis. Together with his wife Lorraine, they collect contemporary art, and spend time with their children and four granddaughters in the Berkshires, surrounded by the lake and gardens, frequenting the region’s cultural organizations.

Like James, we are deeply committed to civil society and to living our values. For the gallery, this means an unbending commitment to holding space for ideas, dialogue, and joy.

All proceeds from tickets and purchases make possible Gallery Aferro’s year-round exhibitions and wide range of public events, artist residencies, publications, public art, educational offerings, collaborations, and innovative, community-responsive projects such as our mobile portrait studio. It all began in 2003 here in Newark, when artists Evonne M. Davis and Emma Wilcox founded an arts and community space named Aferro: (Portuguese, idiomatic) Bound or chained to an insane idea, or an idea that is difficult to achieve.

Located downtown since 2006, the gallery has received 5 back-to-back Citations of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and has been described by Inside New Jersey magazine as offering “a dizzying array of contemporary art.” The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has praised our “expansive vision, impact in Newark as well as regionally and even internationally”, and our “exemplary mentoring opportunities for young artists.” Radius magazine has described the gallery as a place where “exuberant extremes of age and background come together,” and Brick City Live has commented on our “community-minded, experimental, collaborative, and DIY ethos.”

For one night only unique artworks will be available at prices that will enlarge or establish your collection. Delight a friend, colleague or loved one with the gift of artwork. Bring someone who’s never been to the gallery, or to Newark, or someone you come with every year. Support the free exchange of ideas. Dance and have fun. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements on facebook, instagram and twitter #galleryaferro

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Places You Aren’t Supposed To Go:

[Don’t Play Me] Do We Still Call It Abstract Art?

Lisette Morel


Curated by Ayana Evans

Main Gallery, Gallery Aferro

April 7 – May 26, 2018

Opening Reception April 7th 7-10pm @ Gallery Aferro

Lisette Morel is a painter of Dominican decent who is infatuated with the color black. Ms Morel is not just in love with this color, she is questioning it. With every manipulation and stage of her work she is asking “If I do this, what will happen?” This element of uncertainty makes the work unpredictable and unending like the color itself. For the artist, black is layered with memories of looking at the night sky with her mother and viewing the tarred tops of other buildings as a child. Her mother always said if she stared long enough she would see another shade of black. – blue black, red black and soft grey blacks would emerge. Her mother wanted her to be aware of nuance and depth. Morel didn’t understand this fully, until much later, as an adult who uses this constantly in her paintings. For Morel the color marks territory as it also points to “places you aren’t supposed to go” like extremely dark alley ways or metaphoric places like dark thought. In this sense, Morel literally marks her territory by considering and invading space that is not limited to the gallery walls or traditional canvas. She paints on found sheetrock that is hung on the wall and frequently bunches fabrics or allows canvas to run onto the floor. Her mark making extends to the gallery walls in a sense of urgency and permanence. This is where Morel’s artistic world takes flight, from a starting point of the forbidden and a mother wanting her to see more. Morel’s work is layered with not just tradition abstract expressionism but also matriarchal abstraction that uses mop heads to make aggressive marks and holds scratches in the same high esteem as the nuanced relationship of matte black or semi gloss black to lush brush strokes of a muted brown.  As an artist of color, it is not lost on Morel that her work would be more “commercial” if she spoke to her heritage directly and didn’t cloak her feminism in abstraction. Yet, the freedom from limits that abstraction offers is where Lisette Morel wants the viewer’s eyes to wander, through her darkness where paint marks territory and erasure with definite marks. Morel was the inaugural recipient of Gallery Aferro’s Sustainable Arts Fellowship for studio residents who are also parents.

Morel is investigating as she paints which leads to her performative work. In that work she is performing that investigation with paint for an audience. The process becomes the work. Performative elements of mark making began to weave into Morel’s work in 2013. For this exhibit, the last in a 2017-2018 quartet of solo shows by women artists of color from different generations organized by the gallery, she will complete a new solo work at the opening.  In thinking about object-making versus art-objectives in her practice, Morel steps into a process outside of painting. Performance art is not an object/objective based medium. This is  not like making abstract work, but it is being in the abstract work itself; this is about ‘being ,’ ‘creating,’ and ‘thinking’ while usually painters are about the ‘result.’ It is an act of vulnerability for Morel to create openness/possibilities in her performance without the safety of a resulting object or the barrier of canvas between the audience and herself. “For me performative pieces are an extension of my body and a vulnerability. While some of the performances express power; they are also fragile; there is a duality. And when I allow the performances to become public or invite the public it’s not me…I pray and ask for cojones… so that my most authentic inner self [emerges].” The residue from this performance, “KNOTS,” will be left on display in the gallery for the entire duration of the show. This works will shift slightly as the show progresses.

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Two Spirits

Curated by Jo-El Lopez


Eleta J. Caldwell and Rodney M. Gilbert Memorial Gallery, Gallery Aferro

April 7 – May 26, 2018

Opening Reception April 7th 7-10pm @ Gallery Aferro

Featured Artists:


Luis Carle

Gerardo Castro

Though in Western tradition, gender is understood as male and female, many world cultures, especially Native American culture, do not have such a precise division. Instead there is provision for, movement back and forth between genders. “Two Spirits” refers not just to the two artists exhibiting, but also evokes a body simultaneously housing both a masculine and a feminine spirit. This exhibit is also inspired by the interplay between spirituality, activism, and queerness, as seen in the longing felt by many people of indigenous descent to connect to this earlier, lost heritage.

Borinquen artists Geraldo Castro and Luis Carle’s works evidence how the radical influences pop culture, including ongoing pushback and questioning of gender roles. Castro painting of visually masculine nude men adorned in feminine trappings juxtaposes roles and notions of traditional beauty. Photographer Luis Carle’s nostalgic imagery recorded gay life and activism in New York City in the early eighties, and revisiting this work now reminds us of the necessity of more activism, as we see what has changed and what has not.

These Two Spirits, and other men like them, take on an important role in the art community; they are healers, visionaries and valued for their balanced perception of existence and a way of being.

Luis Carle was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York City in 1984. Carle first studied photography at Parsons School of Design and worked as artist and photographer’s assistant to various well-known photographers including Rebecca Blake, Michel Haddi, Mark Liddell, Arturo Melero and others. In the 1990s, Mr. Carle started working for various magazines and newspapers including: Latina Magazine, CRN Magazine, Footwear News, El Diario La Prensa, San Juan Star and El Nuevo Día. Mr. Carle joined advertising campaigns like Cutty Sark, AT&T, OBRI Cosmetics, and participated in many documentary films. In 1992 he founded and directed O.P. Art, Inc. (The Organization of Puerto Rican Artists, Inc.), a not-for-profit artist’s collective, that has been recognized as an important source of Latin art by the New York Regional Center of the Smithsonian Institute (1999), The Museum of Modern Art (2006), the NYC Library, and accepted by NYFA’s Fiscal Sponsorship program. Luis was the visual arts curator for the NuyoRican Poets Café in the East Village, New York.

Carle’s photographs have captured the essence of a life well lived and have been included in The New York Times, Daily News and other art magazines. His artwork has appeared in galleries and museums in New York, including the Museo del Barrio’s first S-Files Biennial (1999), The African American Museum, Centro Gallery at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Hunter College), MOCADA: Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, and The Museum of Modern Art; and abroad, in The Caribbean Museum (St. Croix, Virgin Islands), Museo of Contemporary Arts (Puerto Rico), Museo de las Americas (Puerto Rico), The Hague Arts Center (The Hague, Netherlands) and the Sarkowsky Gallery (St Petersburg, Russia). He has photographs in the permanent collections of The National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution (Washington DC) and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (New York).

He writes: “For decades, the dominant cultural image of masculinity has included heterosexuality, physical strength, financial success, having many children, manly mannerisms and not crying or showing emotion. Society has coded intellect, passivity, softness, emotional intelligence, compassion, care-taking, and sensitivity as feminine, and therefore weak. Being masculine or feminine doesn’t make us less of a man or a woman. Masculinity is not inherently better than femininity; the two are different, and both hold special, powerful aspects. In the Latino culture there’s a belief that men need to be hyper-masculine, domineering, controlling, and without the slightest hint of femininity.”

Gerardo Castro was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and earned his MFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY in 1996. His work has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Spain, and major US Cities. For close to 20 years Gerardo taught Color Theory, Design and Painting courses at New Jersey City University, Jersey City, and has lectured on the influence of Santeria and other Afro-Cuban religions on contemporary art. In 2008, Gerardo and his partner opened an art supply store, Newburgh Art Supply in Newburgh NY, where he currently resides. Castro organizes the yearly Newburgh Open Studios tour, now in its 8th year and also curates The Lightbulb Project 2012 /2018, a public art project, where 104 artists painted 4-foot wooden light bulbs as a Public Art event in Newburgh, NY.

Castro has exhibited in the following selected art shows, galleries and museums. Biblioteca Nacional, Havana Cuba; Wilmer Jennings Gallery NY, SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, Human Rights Institute, Kean University, NJ: Aphrodisiac ‘Agua’, Santo Domingo, DR; In Search of Queer Gods, Root Division, San Francisco, Museum of the History of Ponce, PR, Social Justice: St. Mary’s College Museum of Art, Morago, CA; Niger to Afrofuturism, Westfield State University, Westfield, MA; The World After January 20, 2017, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

In Castro’s current series, rather than concealing features that would be deemed unattractive beneath the male gaze, he glorifies them, posing questions around whether masculinity is nature or nurture; passed down through generation to generation, or individually assumed and often hidden behind. Castro has created images rooted in ethnicity and gender as well as culturally dominant fantasies about masculinity and sexuality that have escaped the trappings of popularized constructions of Latino identity; work that enables a connection to history and his roots, a courageous confrontation of meaning and mysticism. Castro seeks to uncover the hidden culture of machismo, a conflict between two identities; gay and Latino: a tension between identity and reality that can be incredibly detrimental to the Latino community; tragedy of machismo is that a man is never quite man enough.



Curated by Jo-El Lopez


Eleta J. Caldwell and Rodney M. Gilbert Memorial Gallery, Gallery Aferro

April 7 – May 26, 2018

73 Market Street, Newark NJ

Opening Reception April 7th 7-10pm @ Gallery Aferro

Featured Artists:


Juan Gutiérrez

Ernesto Rodríguez

Wali Vidal

In the Spanish language DIMELO means “tell it to me” or in the colloquial terms: “talk to me”. Artists Ernesto Rodríguez, born in 1964, Juan Guitiérrez, born in 1968, and Wali Vidal, born in 1982, all in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, use traditional and modern artforms to describe a new moment of globalization, dismantling stereotypes and inviting street viewers inside Caribbean culture.

Juan Guitiérrez studied plastics Arts at Escuela de Bellas Artes, and maintains ongoing studies at Altos de Chavon in Dominican Republic, which is associated with Parsons, The New School for Design. He has been exhibiting since 1996, in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally. He was the recipient of a prize given by the Governor of Maryland, for his support, through artmaking, of women with AIDS.

Ernesto Rodríguez is a multidisciplinary artist, working in materials such as wood, clothes, metal, mud, etc. He has exhibited and traveled extensively including at Centro Eduardo Leon Jimenez, Dominican Republic, the Bienal Nacional de Artes Visuales, and in Rome, Italy. Rodriguez is also considered as one of the most important ceramic artists of the Dominican Republic. He is also a cultural manager and has worked on educational projects in different places including Rafey Prision, located in Santiago de Los Caballeros, Community Center Centro Cumunal Puertoriqueño, located in Puerto Rico and at workshops given in New York City, NY, USA.

Wali Vidal was born in Santiago in 1982. From a very young age he was interested in arts, participating in workshops with prominent artists. During 2001 to 2002 he was introduced to the technique of lost wax by the artist Leo Núñez. Later on from 2003 to 2005 Wali Vidal took ceramics with the artist Ernesto Rodríguez, and in the fall of 2006 he completed a workshop in Criticism of Artworks at the San Alejandro School of Art, Habana, Cuba. At the end of the same year he returned to Dominican Republic where he took engraving, installation and video art clinics with the artists Carmelo Sobrino, Pepón Osorio and José Alejandro Restrepo at Centro León, Santiago. To formalize his studies, Wali applied to the School of Design Altos de Chavón in La Romana, Dominican Republic obtaining an A.A.S. degree in arts in 2010. He has participated in national and international art projects including at the Center of Culture of Santiago and at the Theater House of Santo Domingo, Lex56 Art Studio, New York, NY, Centro León, Santiago, Center City Gallery, NJ, and the Bronx Museum, New York, NY. In 2010 his painting “La Escolta” became part of “Genesis and Trajectory”, Permanent Exhibition at Centro Leon, Santiago.

Elevator Music 4: Brian Oakes

Elevator Installation, 2nd Floor Gallery Aferro


Curated by Jacob Mandel

April 7-May 26, 2018

Opening Reception April 7th 7-10pm @ Gallery Aferro

Brian Oakes is a New Jersey-based animator, filmmaker, composer, and educator. His award-winning short films have screened at national and international film festivals and galleries. He studied animation and digital arts at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Many of his films are based on original musical compositions, in which he plays and records all of the instruments.

Taking inspiration from a variety of sources, ranging from film, music and animation, to memories and events in his own life, each piece reflects Oakes’ unique ability to transform seemingly inconsequential familiar objects into new and challenging time-based realities. At once nostalgic and contemporary, the uncanny, dreamlike subjects of these works speak of the silent osmosis between image and experience, memory and imagination. For Gallery Aferro’s Elevator Music Project, Oakes created several tracks of music that evoke a feeling of weightlessness and empty space.

Elevator Music is a continuos rotation of experimental sound art curated for the permanent Elevator Music installation on the 2nd floor of Gallery Aferro. The installation is comprised of a very early Otis Elevator (single digit) from the early 1900s excavated from the basement of Gallery Aferro’s facilities at 73 Market Street. The elevator was cleaned up, refurbished, and equipped with a motion sensor activated media player. Guests enter the elevator and the audio-works are activated, analogous to the ways we may enter a functioning elevator ready to deliver us to our desired (or undesired) destination. Elevator Music is a space where audio works can become accessible within a visual arts gallery experience. Over the years the installation has taken on many forms, from musical mix-tapes to experimental “studio sounds”. The original Elevator Music, Aferro Publication #17 juried by artist Adam Trowbridge, was intended for permanent loop in the Gallery’s freight elevator before the entombed passenger elevator was even discovered. Currently in it’s 4th iteration, Elevator Music has been curated by Spencer Frohwirth, Dahlia Elsayed, and Jacob Lawrence Mandel. Entering Elevator Music brings the viewer to a new, personal space to listen and reflect on alternative forms of creative expression.

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Case Studies

Main Gallery, Gallery Aferro


February 10 – March 16, 2018

Curated by Evonne M. Davis

Opening Reception February 10th 7-10pm @ Gallery Aferro

Participating Artists:

Emily Bivens

Marcy Chevali

Kate Eggleston

Tatiana Istomina

Niki Lederer

Ann LePore

Laurie Murphy

Elina Peduzzi

Joanne Ross

James Sham

Sarah Walko

Eleanor White

Juno Zago

Mark Zimmerman

Case Studies features 14 artists who have been invited to intervene with re-purposed, salvaged museum display cases. The majority of these cases were donated to Gallery Aferro by George Washington’s Mt. Vernon Estate’s Museum, as well as from New York Historical Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Large, elegant, dark wood displays, previously used for a traveling exhibition of replica objects from Washington’s life, as well as plexiglass vitrines and pedestals, will be transformed by artists from across the East Coast for a contemporary vision, creating a diverse and unique experience for the viewers because in effect each is creating an exhibit within an exhibit.

Ann LePore is conducting street-side interviews to ask people in Newark what they think should be preserved and protected in a display case, and then projecting luminescent drawings of those objects for her display case. Tatiana Istomina’s case is given over to documents and artwork from the life of fictional Modernist painter, Alissa Blumenthal (1899-1991), derived from Istomina’s interest in the early 20th century avant-garde. Niki Lederer will be displaying 333 porcelain dogs, addressing questions of what happens when private collections are shown publicly in very non-domestic settings. Other artists are using their cases to address topics as divergent as state-sanctioned killings, the symbolism of the ace of spades, and the Newark-born inventor of the oreo cookie.

This exhibition creates a dialogue between museum culture, gallery experimentation, and the impulses and voices of artists. Whether described as cases, pedestals, vitrines, casework, or cabinets, the objects can evoke portability and itinerancy in art and culture, as well as, oddly enough, ideals of what is imagined to be fixed, unchanging, permanent, or authoritative. Ideas about archiving, exposure, cultural access, historical narrative, Americana, Colonialism, “high” and “low” culture, containment, consumption, salvage and recycling, object reparation, looking and how it changes what is looked at, preservation, platform and power, the exoticized, and the uses of the past also might come to mind. Artist Fred Wilson’s Mining the Museum, as well as more recent projects such as Not An Alternative’s Natural History Museum remind us that there are no neutral objects. Which artists generally know better than most. Educators and activity planners are encouraged to contact the gallery to book a free tour of the exhibits for their youth or adult groups.


Well Hung

a Multifaceted Interrogation of Stereotypes

Eleta J. Caldwell and Rodney M. Gilbert Memorial Gallery, Gallery Aferro


February 10 – March 16, 2018

Curated by Jo-El Lopez

Opening Reception February 10th 7-10pm @ Gallery Aferro

Participating Artists:

Mashell Black

Anthony E. Boone

Willie Cole

Kevin Darmanie

Victor Davson

Jerry Gant

Steve Green

Ben F. Jones

Suliman Onque

Ron Powell

Kern Samuel

Ceaphas Stubbs

Gallery Aferro and Newark Arts are honoring the lives of two powerful and much-beloved Newark culture workers: Rodney Gilbert (July 27, 1967- November 8, 2017) and Eleta J. Caldwell (June 13, 1945 – December 13, 2017). Ms. Caldwell was Mr. Gilbert’s teacher, and both were working artists passionately committed to cultural leadership in Newark, and to mentorship of the artistically inclined youth of the community. The new Memorial Gallery, located within Gallery Aferro’s downtown location at 73 Market Street, is an intimate space appropriate for visual arts exhibits, poetry readings, screenings, and other sorts of gatherings where people connect with ideas and each other. The gallery is a place to linger, and a place for remembering.

The public is joyfully invited to join us on February 10 for the gallery dedication and opening reception curated by Jo-El Lopez, as well as two other exciting exhibitions. RSVP is not required and there is no charge to attend and enjoy.

The inaugural exhibition, running February 10 – March 16, 2018, curated by Gilbert’s friend and colleague Jo-El Lopez, explores Black male identity and showcases the talents of local, Black male artists. Lopez writes: “My friend Rodney Gilbert and I spoke about creating the “Well Hung” show numerous times before he passed away this December. The title that I suggested in jest took on a life of its own as we spoke about the overwhelming need to highlight nuanced portrayals of African-American male identities. He reminded me of the importance of creating an art show like this. He wanted to take on a powerful stereotype and give it a totally different direction. I want to create something influential, evidencing an extraordinary range of personalities, impulses, and ideas too complex to ever be contained or constrained. This show in Rodney’s memory is about the African-American Male artist: his power, identity, joy and his trajectory for the future.

In selecting these artists, ranging from established, mid-career, emerging and novice, I focused on artists who have had positive influences and are great role models to their community. Our working definition of these criteria differs from the reactive pressures sometimes put on artists to make exclusively “affirming images;” we instead find that when people are their most authentic, idiosyncratic and personal, they lead the way by showing others that it is possible to live freely.”

For Gilbert and Caldwell’s contemporaries and (now-grown) mentees, the dedication of the gallery is evidence that another new generation of youth will be inspired by the lives these two led, what they accomplished and the example of public service they modeled. Gallery Aferro, being close to Arts High School, is a frequent destination for students to visit, both informally as well as with field trips, and as such is a space where moments of inspiration and discovery happen for youth on the verge of believing they, too, can succeed. As an LGBTQ-led space, we also can honor the legacy of those who lead proud, out, professional lives. Planned exhibits throughout 2018 showcase the extraordinary talent and stylistic range of Newark-affiliated artists.

About Ms. Caldwell: Born in Chapel Hill, NC, Eleta J. Caldwell moved to Newark in the late 1940’s and graduated from Arts High School. She began drawing at age 3 and went on to earn a Bachelors and a Masters of Fine Arts from Montclair State University. She began her teaching career at Weequaic High School and then went on to Arts High School, where she was first a teacher, then a Department Chair, and then the principal. She began exhibiting her work in the 1970’s with Gladys Barker Grauer’s AARD Gallery, and exhibited extensively including at the Newark Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, City Without Walls, Clocktower Gallery, Art in the Atrium, and others. She dedicated most of her work, time, and life to the city of Newark, NJ, and is remembered as a tireless and powerful mentor, advocate, and culture worker by countless former students as well as by her colleagues. Eleta wrote: “My parents raised six children with love and respect. My father was a Pullman Porter, while my mother worked occasionally her primary obligation was the home. It was a major sin to be “idle” in my household. My father would give you a boring domestic chore if he caught you doing nothing. Therefore we all had interests: reading, art, sewing or music. We had a great deal of freedom, and that freedom was based on trust and respect. Art has always been my first love. During junior year my college class visited West Kinney Jr. High to observe a class and I was assigned an art class (of course), and I fell in love! I loved the teaching, the atmosphere, and especially the aura emanated by the students and their teacher. I felt a strong connection to my hometown, the city of Newark, where I received a great education. How better to give back to the city than to teach- I’m so glad I did it! I created my art while I pursued my teaching- it was an excellent marriage. I believe education is synonymous with experience. For me, exhibiting and teaching go hand in hand. I wanted to give my students a broader experience. Art was my tool to emphasize a holistic approach that combined creativity and critical thinking. I began painting in a representational genre; I loved the African and American face and figure. My family members were often the subject for my figurative works and portraits. I drew and painted Black faces incessantly. My work started to lean towards a more abstract presentational style. I painted women and our contributions, historically, spiritually and physically. I still focus on women’s unrecognized contributions but now employ mixed media to broaden my statements.”

About Mr. Gilbert: In 2003 Rodney M. Gilbert founded Yendor Productions in Newark, NJ to meet the challenges of the underserved artists and communities. As CEO of Yendor Productions he developed, oversaw, and produced arts education programming and events and consulted on numerous projects. As one of the leading teaching artists in the tristate area, he provided acting instruction for numerous institutions. A professor in the Theatre Department of Drew University, an arts educator for the Kennedy Center’s Wolftrap Program, and the Director of the Writers Program for Playwrights Theater, he developed the afterschool arts education program “ZOOM” for the City of Newark, NJ and provided professional development for the Caucus Educational Corporation’s Stand and Deliver Program. He conducted workshops as far as Johannesburg, South Africa.

As the Senior Program Manager for the Newark Murals Program, He was directly responsible for many of the murals that enhance the esthetic of the City of Newark. He advocated tirelessly for equal pay for artists raising awareness for a better Newark through the Arts. He curated many art shows throughout the City of Newark focusing on new and developing artists as well as showing established ones. Yendor Productions provided many arts activities to Newark children in the form of outdoor activities as well as summer arts programs. Mr. Gilbert, a Newark Arts High School graduate, earned a BFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 1989. A member of the Actors Equity Association, a Leadership Newark Fellow, and a Audelco Award Nominee and recipient of numerous awards including the Civic Engagement by Drew University. In 2014, he was appointed by Mayor Ras J. Baraka to serve as one of the first members of the City of Newark’s LGBTQ commission.

In remembering and honoring both Ms. Caldwell and Mr. Gilbert, we are inspired by how many lives they were able to make a positive impact on, and by how affectionately, and vividly, both are remembered by so many people.

Heidi Lorenz by Stewart Losee low res

Elevator Music 4: Octonomy

Elevator Installation, 2nd Floor Gallery Aferro


February 10th – March 16th, 2018

Curated by Jacob Mandel

Opening Reception February 10th 7-10 PM @ Gallery Aferro

“My world, my Earth is a ruin. A planet spoiled by the human species. We multiplied and fought and gobbled until there was nothing left, and then we died. We controlled neither appetite nor violence; we did not adapt. We destroyed ourselves. But we destroyed the world first.” – Ursula Le Guin, the Dispossessed

∆˚¬ we’re going on a walk// is an ambient track that narrates a meandering stroll through a post-apocalyptic wasteland on a sunny day. Using a base loop of fuzzed out, pitched-down industrial sounds from construction sites and melodies created from synthesized natural sounds (birds, thunder, bees), as well as collected field recordings, this track aims to contrast the delicateness of the natural against the deep rumble of the techno-industrial world to send the listener on a hazy, reverb-soaked walk through a strange landscape.

Heidi Lorenz Wettach Hussa (aka Octonomy) is an electronic sound artist and architectural designer based out of Brooklyn, NY. Her architectural practice focuses mainly on immersive installation integrating light, sound and performance art, and experiential acoustic design. Her sound work revolves around use of hardware and software synthesizers; found sounds and samples; reverb and noise.

Elevator Music is a continuos rotation of experimental sound art curated for the permanent Elevator Music installation on the 2nd floor of Gallery Aferro. The installation is comprised of a very early Otis Elevator (single digit) from the early 1900s excavated from the basement of Gallery Aferro’s facilities at 73 Market Street. The elevator was cleaned up, refurbished, and equipped with a motion sensor activated media player. Guests enter the elevator and the audio-works are activated, analogous to the ways we may enter a functioning elevator ready to deliver us to our desired (or undesired) destination. Elevator Music is a space where audio works can become accessible within a visual arts gallery experience. Over the years the installation has taken on many forms, from musical mix-tapes to experimental “studio sounds”. The original Elevator Music, Aferro Publication #17 juried by artist Adam Trowbridge, was intended for permanent loop in the Gallery’s freight elevator before the entombed passenger elevator was even discovered. Currently in it’s 4th iteration, Elevator Music has been curated by Spencer Frohwirth, Dahlia Elsayed, and Jacob Lawrence Mandel. Entering Elevator Music brings the viewer to a new, personal space to listen and reflect on alternative forms of creative expression.

RAT Promo Image

Resistance Across Time: Interference Archive

The Window Gallery at Express Newark


2nd Floor, 54 Halsey Street, Newark NJ 07102

Exhibition on view from September 20, 2017 extended to April 7, 2018

“Resistance Across Time” is a selection of posters from Interference Archive meant to remind viewers of the long history of social movements led by and in support of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and the rights and safety of people of color. Social movements and the fight for justice, fairness and equality have being taking place for centuries of human history. In the U.S. the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties is often taught and discussed as the most defining series of actions and events towards social justice. Archives like Interference’s show us that the struggle is multifaceted, ceaseless, and ever evolving.

Movements often help us develop and employ the language that we use to describe our experiences and desires, that language is developed within the context of time, community and people, and that language changes to reflect the changing atmosphere and evolving contexts that it functions to serve.

This exhibition is created to honor the women, LGBTQ people and people of color who have led the way in the past, often at great personal sacrifice and high cost, while also encouraging next generation social justice warriors to learn from our history while they develop and create new methodologies and practices to try and carry us forward toward a better future for all people.

Interference Archive is an all-volunteer run community archive in Brooklyn, New York. The mission of Interference Archive is to explore the relationship between cultural production and social movements.

Curated by Evonne M. Davis, co-founder and Artistic Director of Gallery Aferro. Established in 2003, Gallery Aferro brings cultural education and aesthetic engagement with contemporary issues to all people equally, creating an environment where artists can gather and share physical and intellectual resources.

The Paul Robeson Galleries’ programs are supported, in part, by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and by private donations. We are also supported by Express Newark, the Robeson Campus Center and the Cultural Programming Committee, Rutgers University-Newark.

This event coincides with the opening reception of “Justseeds: Migration Now!” and Betty ‘Zine Fest 2017. Click the links below for more information.

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Gladys Barker Grauer


Speaking Her Mind: Then and Now

Main Gallery, Gallery Aferro


November 11th 2017 – January 12th 2018

Curated by Adrienne Wheeler

Opening Reception November 11th, 4-8 PM @ Gallery Aferro

Spanning over seventy years of artistic practice, and evidencing, in glorious vivid colors, her unwavering commitment to the radically humane, Gladys Barker Grauer, Speaking Her Mind: Then and Now begins with Grauer’s radicalization as a student in the 1940’s at the Art Institute of Chicago and weaves in and out of moments before and after that helped shape her activism and inform her work. Grauer is a prolific artist who works across multiple media including painting, sculpture, weaving, assemblage, collage, and even doll making. Curator Adrienne Wheeler writes: “Gladys decided I should curate the exhibition. Initially, the exhibition was proposed as a retrospective, to which the artist replied, “I don’t want a retrospective, I’m making new work”, I only mention this for purposes of context, Gladys Barker Grauer is ninety-four years old and maintains an active and vibrant art practice.”

This large-scale exhibition brings together a collection of work, new and old, wherein Grauer tackles issues around the injustices of the criminal justice system, and humanizes those who have been dehumanized and marginalized by racism, poverty and gender bias. Grauer writes: “Artists are recorders of events, society, and the culture in which they live. My art expresses my reaction to and interaction with the struggle of all people for survival. This struggle is motivated by the optimism of beautiful people for their intellectual, financial, social, political, individual, and physical survival.” Third in a 2017-18 quartet of solo shows at Gallery Aferro by women artists of color from different generations, the exhibit and the series derived from Artistic Director Evonne M. Davis’ interest in recognizing artists who were making socially engaged work before this kind of artmaking had a label, let alone dedicated graduate programs.

Grauer’s significant and varied contributions as a culture worker- educator, organizer, curator, originator, agitator, mentor- must be illuminated and honored because they inform our current moment of #blacklivesmatter and the curatorial fight against erasure in regards to both the hyperlocal, and the global. A longform interview between artist and curator, conducted to enhance the visitor experience and the cultural record of Grauer’s incredible life, will be published and distributed at the opening reception and online on November 11.

Grauer’s work is unapologetic, without sentimentality or sensationalism, there are no gimmicks, just straight talk, “Speaking Her Mind: Then and Now”.

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

About the artist: Gladys was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1923 and grew up on Chicago’s South Side. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago and then moved to New York City where she worked as a freelance artist, became involved in civil rights and political movements, and met and married Solomon Grauer. They moved to Newark, NJ in 1951, raised a family, and continued their community and political involvement. In 1960, she ran as the Socialist Worker’s Party’s US Senate nominee. In 1972 Gladys fulfilled a long-time dream and opened the Aard Studio Gallery in Newark’s South Ward. Through her community-based art gallery Gladys helped launch the careers and critical evaluation of numerous black and brown artists. Her gallery addressed the needs of artists of color by providing a forum for mutual support, professional networking, exhibition and selling of their art, and helped set the stage for the larger appreciation of the creativity of artists of color. Those early tentative steps led penultimately to the Newark Museum’s 1983 exhibition Emerging and Established. This pointed the way to the future of visual arts in Newark and a higher standard of cultural literacy in New Jersey. Gladys’ commitment, support and promotion of the arts reached beyond the walls of Aard Studio Gallery to the larger community. She was a founding member of Black Woman in Visual Perspective, New Jersey Chapter of the National Conference of Artists and the Newark Arts Council, and served on the Boards of Theater of Universal Images, City Without Walls, and the Newark Arts Council.and mentored young art students. Gladys taught commercial art in the Essex County Vocational High School system in Newark. Over the past 60 years Gladys’ artwork has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally. Since 2006 Gladys has completed four murals in Newark. She continues to inspire the next generation of artists and to creatively express through visual discord, her social, political and personal views. Her work is in many private collections as well as with the Newark Museum, Montclair Museum, Zimmerli Art Museum, Newark Public Library, Morris Museum, Noyes Museum, National Art Library of the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Library of the National Museum of American Art, New Jersey State Museum, Morgan State University, and Johnson & Johnson.

About the curator: Adrienne Wheeler is a multi-media artist, independent curator, arts educator, and advocate for social justice.  Through her practice, she addresses the injustices that plague society, particularly those injustices affecting the lives of women and children. Wheeler’s work references various Central and West African ancestral, spiritual, and cultural traditions and investigates the ways in which these traditions (often misunderstood, marginalized, and demonized) have stood as tools of resistance against the inhumanity of slavery and other forms of oppression. These works include wood sculpture, mixed media installation, glass book arts, photography and video. Wheeler’s current works in progress are papier-mache Njorowe or “Belly Masks”, (the body plate of an important female ancestral masquerade belonging to the Makonde People of Southeastern Tanzania and Northern Mozambique), and narratives associated with the white dress. This exploration of the white dress began in 2015 with Provisions, a series of artist books inspired by recordings from the Krueger-Scott African-American Oral History Collection, consisting of over 200 audiocassette recordings of interviews with African-American residents of Newark, NJ who migrated to the city between 1910 and 1970 during the Great Migration. Wheeler, whose mother migrated from the South during the Great Migration, continues to use images of the white dress made by her mother in 1942 for her elementary school graduation; she continues the work through interrogation of the tangible and intangible that sustain people, their traditions, spirituality, and community.


Shut Up and Dance With Me


Bayaht Ham

Liminal Gallery, Gallery Aferro


November 11th – December 16th, 2017

Opening Reception November 11th, 7-10 PM @ Gallery Aferro

Bayaht Ham is a local artist living and working in Philadelphia.  He is inspired by movies, shows, video games and current fashion trends.  His works is displayed in a variety of mediums including paintings, drawings and prints.  His street fashion images were in a group show entitled Side by Side at Savery Gallery, summer 2016. His work has also been shown at Off The Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks, Black Cat Tavern on 12th st and Eyes Gallery.

Elevator Music 4

Ernestus Jiminy Chald

Elevator Installation, 2nd Floor Gallery Aferro


November 11th 2017 – January 12th 2018

Curated by Jacob Mandel

Opening Reception November 11th, 4-8 PM @ Gallery Aferro

Ernestus Jiminy Chald is an experimental radio artist, writer, composer, sound designer, and enigmatographer. His radio work has been broadcast on WPOX FM and featured at the National Audio Theatre Festivals. His literary work has been published by the Journal of Experimental Fiction and Oilcan Press among others. Chald’s work often explores the dark underbelly of human existence. His weekly freeform experimental radio program “The Mind’s Ear” is a category-defying auricular peregrination that transcends what listeners expect to hear on the radio.

For Gallery Aferro’s Elevator Music project, Chald focused on creating pieces that simulate for the listener unconventional elevator experiences. Each of these pieces may be viewed as separate auditory rides on elevators of the mind to destinations unknown. When taking an unfamiliar elevator in a building we have never been inside before, there is a sense of mystery as the elevator ascends or descends to the floor we have selected. Though we may have some idea in our minds of what to expect when the doors open, the reality of what we will experience during the ride itself, and what we will find when we reach our destination, is never quite what we imagined. What will we see when the doors open? Will there be people standing there waiting to occupy the elevator after we vacate it? What will the floor we arrive on smell like? Will there be carpeting? Will the room that is revealed to us once the doors open be bright or dimly lit? Will we be pleased with what we find? Will we even arrive at the floor we’ve selected at all, or will something go terribly wrong along the way that prevents us from reaching our desired destination? When we step inside an elevator, it is impossible to know what we will find once we reach our floor of choice of we ever reach that floor at all. We are submitting ourselves blindly to the mercy of the elevator and its occupants, hoping that it will take us where we wish to go, or at least to a place we can tolerate being. Chald’s pieces for the Elevator Music Project play with this sense of elevatorial mystery. The elevator is a rich source of symbolism. It is the artist’s hope that these pieces will cause the listener to consider the elevator in ways they have not considered it before, and, perhaps, give them something to reflect upon the next time they find themselves in need of vertical transportation.