Main Gallery, Gallery Aferro
February 10 – March 16, 2018
Curated by Evonne M. Davis
Opening Reception February 10th 7-10pm @ Gallery Aferro
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.
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
Anthony E. Boone
Ben F. Jones
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.
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.
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 charging 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.