About Gallery Aferro
The mission of Gallery Aferro is to function as a platform for the exchange of ideas in service of advancing human dignity and beauty, with a focus on visual arts as the vehicle, proudly located in Newark, NJ.
Gallery Aferro works to bring cultural education and aesthetic engagement with contemporary issues to all people equally, and to create an environment where artists can gather and share physical and intellectual resources. We are working towards an arts community that is available to everyone, without sacrificing standards or quality of experience.
Gallery Aferro hosts several public exhibitions spaces amongst the first 2 floors of 73 Market Street. The first floor is primarily occupied by our Main Gallery, an expansive open-floor space designed for large-scale exhibitions, events, film screenings, workshops, artist talks, and more. Our 2nd floor is comprised of several distinct spaces primarily comprised of the Eleta J. Caldwell & Rodney M. Gilbert Memorial Gallery, a large exhibiting space dedicated to two beloved local supporters and advocates for the arts that the Newark community lost in 2017. Gallery Aferro has also hosted a public art program entitled Activate: Market Street, consisting of several refurbished unused store-front displays on Market Street. Although these displays are no longer in regular curatorial rotation, the expansive installation Market Street Perennial is on permanent display across the Washington Street and Market Street block.
Although exhibiting artwork is one of Gallery Aferro’s primary mission-based goals, we work to expand the types of spaces and communal experiences we are able to offer. Immediately upon entering the gallery is Art Shop, a gift shop designed by Gallery Aferro to highlight artworks for sale with a focus on affordable works as well as Gallery Aferro’s growing publication line of more than 27 artist books, exhibition catalogs, essays, and sound art CDs. Additionally, on the 2nd floor we offer Gallery Aferro’s Community Book Room, containing over 2000 books, magazine, journals, and other publications, with couches and board games for the public to enjoy; as well as Gallery Aferro’s Elevator Music Installation, a refurbished vintage Otis elevator designed to exhibit an ongoing series of experimental sound art publications.
The rest of our building is primarily dedicated to Gallery Aferro’s Studio Residency Program. Consisting of 17 studios, the year-round residency program was designed to uplift artists and help encourage an environment where artists can make work as large, ambitious, or complex as desired. Selection is based on a demonstrated commitment to a chosen field, especially in the face of financial or other personal disadvantage, excellence of work, an interest in engaging with the public via one’s art-making process, and by the probable effect the program will have in allowing art-making that otherwise would not have been possible. Participation in the residency program includes a platform to share and participate in a community of artists and others through informal networking and participation in seasonal open studios and artist talks at the gallery. Gallery Aferro is also dedicated to providing opportunities to our residents in the form of exhibitions, off-site talks, advocacy, visiting curators, and letters of recommendation.
Along with these many programs and public offerings, Gallery Aferro offers education programs and unique arts experiences for youth and adults. Our educational offerings include group tours, public talks, and a wide range of workshops. We’ve originated educational programs like Identity Blueprint, a cyanotype photography intensive for high school aged girls in Newark, as well as a “How To Photograph Your Artwork” workshop for artists interested in progressing the quality of their professional assets without breaking the bank. We’ve also hosted programs designed by local educators like drawing workshops, music production classes, and more. Additionally, our internship program is a comprehensive program focused on skill sharing, developing talent, and building informal networks amongst our interns that have grown into collaborative partnerships and interpersonal support that we believe is crucial to success in the professional art world.
Another major project Gallery Aferro originated is the Aferro Mobile Portrait Studio. Through funding provided by the Newark 350th Celebration and other partner organizations we were able to purchase a trailer, stock it with professional-grade photographic equipment, and tow it to community events across the city. Gallery Aferro photographed Newarkers for free, creating a digital archive of over 1000 people who live, work, and play in Newark, NJ, as well as an exhibition displaying 350 of the best portraits we took for Newark Open Doors 2016, Newark’s citywide arts festival.
The gallery has been recognized for our notable fluency in developing innovative partnerships and collaborations with an extraordinary range of museums, galleries, universities, arts organizations, and collectives. Select partnerships over the years include the Montclair Art Museum, the Newark Museum, Polish Cultural Institute, the Price Institute for Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience, Newark Riverfront Revival, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Critical Practices Inc., and Harvestworks. In 2016 alone we collaborated with Creative Capital, the New Jeru Poetry Slam, People’s Open Mic, I’m So Yoga Newark, the Newark Arts Education Roundtable, Oculus Art Collaborative, People’s Prep Charter School, Newark Pride, Urban and Out, the Cooperative Development Institute, Grab a Beat Dance Studio, Them Cloud Kids, Yendor Productions and Rutgers University, the Montclair State Film Department, Community Integrated Services, City Without Wall’s ArtReach program, Hycide and Bridges Outreach, Free Press, the Essential Elements Collective, and the many high schools, colleges, and universities whose students visit or intern here.
Despite our comparative organizational youth, we’ve served as the sole Newark and even NJ representation as part of larger nationwide initiatives such as the 2009 nationwide screenings organized by PPOW Gallery (NYC), and 2013’s GhostFood Truck, part of Marfa Dialogues on Climate Change from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (NYC) and Ballroom Marfa (TX). Gallery Aferro’s directors represented the North East on a nationwide panel on community engagement hosted by the College Art Association. Gallery Aferro’s Gallery Director Emma Wilcox also gave a TedX talk in 2016 about art, audience, community, power dynamics, resistance, and the “strange and enduring power of arts experiences” such as the Aferro Mobile Portrait Studio.
We are featured regularly in the press including a feature on NJ State of the Arts, NBC News TV, NJ Monthly Magazine, Design NJ Magazine, WBGO radio, Remezcla.com, Huffington Post, NJTV, NJ.com, Ironbound Unbound, Rutgers Magazine, the Star Ledger, the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Record, Inside NJ, Fast Company, NJ Biz, Rutgers Magazine, Two Coats of Paint, notwhatitis.com, artcorejournal.net, and Hyperallergic. The co-directors were invited to join the 2013 convening of the Gustav Heningburg Civic Fellowship, Rutgers Institute for Culture, Ethnicity and the Modern Experience, and jointly shared the honor of the Printmaking Center of NJ’s 2013 Erena Ray Award for Art and Social Justice.
Gallery Aferro has experienced significant growth since our 2003 founding, becoming a recognized multigenerational space where art is made, experienced and discussed. Our space is an important place for hundreds of people from Newark and surrounding communities. “Many young people and even adults assume that art galleries aren’t for them… It has been important in the community that Gallery Aferro has always been open to the public- to young people and the general public- to just explore. Kids talk, so when my mentee comes back to school he can say he went with his mentor to an art gallery.” –Artist, Newarker and youth mentor Malik Hardaway-Whitaker.
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