Announcing 2023 Prism Commissions: Writing by artists, from Gallery Aferro

Gallery Aferro is pleased to announce new Prism Commissions for 2023, featuring new long-form writing responding to an open-ended prompt, The Passed.

As the latest in our 20 year history of publishing different kinds of artist books and writing, the naming of the series is based on the idea of refracting light and making layers visible. Commissions focus on writers of color and derive from an open-ended prompt, with a curatorial interest in both words and pictures as it is relevant to the artist’s line of inquiry and contemplation. For our inaugural prompt, Defining the Present, the word “present” could connote today, yesterday, or an epoch or trajectory we may or may not be in. There is also the question of who is present, as in “those present” in a time and/or place. To present something might be to argue that it is.

For 2023, The Passed could connote what is in the past, those passed, passing as various verbs, passing or being passed through or by, or an entirely different response.

These commissioned works live at

New commissions will be published during July, August and September.

For July, you can now read “I Identify as a Threat. (It’s Not Just A Meme)” by Badly Licked Bear

Badly Licked Bear is or has been an arts administrator, community leader, writer, curator, student, artist, and educator. Their artistic work stands in two circles – a performance practice that embodies discipline, BDSM, and Looney Tunes, and a subject-making practice concerned with survival in an age of (INSERT CRISIS HERE). Their work has been exhibited or performed at venues including: MOCA, Hammer Museum, REDCAT, Human Resources Los Angeles, Machine Project, Cerritos College, The Wignall Museum, and less-institutional locales, like at an illegal bar in the Pacific Ocean. Their work is in the library collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Otis College of Art and Design. They are a regular guest contributor to the Museum of Home Video Network.

Bloom! auction logo - rainbow

Come and Bloom! at Gallery Aferro’s 20th Anniversary
Benefit Art Auction & Party

“Gather your rosebuds while ye may” because art is in full bloom at Gallery Aferro’s 20th Anniversary Benefit Art Auction & Party. Celebrate two decades of ingenuity and advocacy in the home of fearless artistry on Saturday, May 20th from 7pm to 10pm. This year’s theme – Bloom! – invites art lovers to don their most blossomy apparel as they live it up to great music, food, cocktails and prizes for a glorious cause.

To mark this milestone, this year’s fete will honor Aferro’s budding genesis and conscience evolution while helping to usher in a vibrant and flourishing future. Guests can expect to enjoy an evening of fun and frivolity as they bid in this season’s uniquely curated silent auction, while nibbling on delectable eats, sipping on sensational spirits and grooving to vinyl virtuoso DJ Kortez.

Back by popular demand, the jubilation will also feature the second annual Aferro Hat Contest, inviting guests to dare to impress with their very best flower-themed chapeau. Esteemed judges will determine which stylish headpiece goes home with the $350 cash prize and bragging rights. When not bidding on art, attendees can revel in the celebratory cake and Nasto’s ice cream, strike a pose with the botanical selfie wall, and vie for the top prize in a History of Aferro-themed trivia contest. 

The annual fundraiser is vital in maintaining popular programming, like artist talks, educational outreach, community workshops, legacy work for women and LGBTQ+ elders, and year-round exhibitions featuring visual, literary and sound artists. But more notably, it also helps Aferro cut a new path to innovative projects and opportunities on the horizon, such as an in-house artwork printing co-op, more inclusive internship and fellowship programs, more resources for new artist commissions and paid engagements, and the continual development of Aferro’s role in spotlighting Newark as an arts education hub.

Returning this year, bidding-by-proxy and bidding-by-phone will allow art enthusiasts to continue to participate in the festivities even when they are unable to attend in-person. But for those who wouldn’t dare miss this special evening, be prepared to drape yourself in your most luscious attire and make your way to the verdant art-covered walls of Gallery Aferro for cake, cocktails and contests as the celebration of Newark’s oldest artist-run alternative arts space promises you a night you will never forget.

Tickets are available for $35 in advance or $40 at the door. Special VIP tickets with early access to artwork for sale and a VIP happy hour are also available for $125 in advance or $150 at the door. Gallery Aferro is located at 73 Market Street in Newark, New Jersey.

For more information, visit or contact: Candace Nicholson, Gallery Director, (973) 353-9533,

Gallery Aferro announces Juno Zago as new Creative Director

Newark’s oldest operating artist-run gallery has seen a lot of changes in the last few years, and 2023 promises to be no different. And it is with this transformational spirit, Gallery Aferro is proud to announce Juno Zago as the new Creative Director of the innovative contemporary alternative arts space. 

As a queer multimedia painter and collage artist who’s been active in the Newark arts scene for nearly a decade, Zago’s promotion from Registrar to Creative Director signals the start of a new role not only for the Ramapo College graduate and former Arts High alum, but a new position at Aferro as well. Previously, co-founder Evonne Davis served as Artistic Director of the organization for 20 years. Now, Davis will be stepping back into an advisory role as an Artistic Director Emerita, supporting the gallery in a different capacity. 

Of his appointment, Zago says, “Gallery Aferro opened innumerable doors for me. Beginning as an intern in 2014, years later I would come on board as their Registrar – work I took pride in for six years. Now, in 2023, I step into the role of Creative Director. I admit I am green to leadership, but this is not an opportunity I take on lightly.” 

This year marks the gallery’s 20th anniversary in the Newark arts community, and with a number of audacious projects on the horizon, Zago is more than ready to dive in and steer the gallery into even more avant-garde waters of artistic expression. “I’m excited to guide and curate many engaging and thought-provoking exhibitions. I’m committed to amplifying the voices of artists in our and other communities,” continues Zago. “I’m invested in the future of Gallery Aferro.” 

Davis worked in Newark building Gallery Aferro for two decades, and although she will miss being a part of the day-to-day activities at the unconventional art space she co-founded, she is more than happy to see Zago step into this new position and make it his own. “I truly believe that Juno Zago and I share a similar vision and values in the most important ways. He wants to create truly inclusive spaces, and work with artists of many generations. The latter is an important aspect of any community and something I am very proud of when it comes to Gallery Aferro’s approach,” shares Davis.

With Aferro’s mission to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas in service of advancing human dignity and beauty, the appointment of Zago as the new Creative Director will undoubtedly lead to even more fascinating programming, exhibitions and projects that will challenge the status quo. 

If you’re excited to learn more about the organization’s evolution and take part in helping provide that platform for an even wider audience, please save the date and join Gallery Aferro on May 20, 2023 at the annual art auction and party!

Congratulations to everyone involved! You can now check the official 2023 list to see if your or your student’s name appears, and what level award was received. Gold level award winners will have their work showcased at an exhibit at Gallery Aferro opening on March 4, 2023. All level award winners are welcome to attend, and gold and silver keys will be given during the exhibition opening. Gallery Aferro will not hand out individual certificates to students this year. Please join us once again as an extended community in celebrating the talents of North New Jersey youth!

Congratulations to everyone!

Please email with any questions.

Now Is Right Here auction photo

“NOW IS RIGHT HERE” at Gallery Aferro


Gallery Aferro ushers in an evening of celebration honoring the moment, the people, and the spirit of 2022 in their 13th annual benefit art auction and party themed: “Now Is Right Here.” Art lovers, collectors and creators will gather on Saturday, April 23rd from 7pm to 10pm to enjoy music, food, cocktails and prizes while bidding on hundreds of artworks available for auction in the name of a worthy cause and a worthy “call” to action.

For 19 years as an artist-run institution, Aferro has lived by the immortal words of James Baldwin: “The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.” And it is with that directive in mind, this year’s benefit promises to remind us all that the time to create that place where we all fit is right here and right now. 

The annual fundraiser not only helps Aferro create new innovative projects, maintain community-focused programming, and craft year-round exhibitions featuring established, emerging and unsung artists, it also supports a thriving studio residency program – now in its 16th year – that continues to serve artists with underrepresented voices and vision. Thanks to the success of recent auctions, the alternative arts space has been able to shift to a paid internship program, as well as team-up with Scholastic Inc. as a regional affiliate partner, facilitating youth arts education and bringing the annual awards ceremony for Northern New Jersey students to the Garden State’s largest city.

This year’s benefit will offer a few additions that highlight ways in which Aferro is committed to being more inclusive by bridging distance through the joy of art. First, the much-demanded bidding-by-phone option will provide art enthusiasts, who are unable to attend in-person, the opportunity to join in the fun. And for those who wish to send a gift to a fellow collector without leaving their home, a limited-edition print will be available to purchase and surprise a loved one or a stranger with the beauty of art from afar. 

When guests aren’t bidding on their favorite pieces, they can revel in the comedic talents of host MC Justin Williams, enjoy the rare vinyl tracks from DJ Kortez, and savor delicious treats courtesy of Nasto’s ice cream bar. Guests can also participate in the gallery’s first-ever Aferro Hat Contest, daring to impress esteemed judges from the House of BAV, The Newarker, Queer Newark Oral History Project, Pink Dragon Artist Syndicate, Newark Times, and Off The Hanger & High Street Original. Winner of the contest receives bragging rights and a cash prize.

Imagery for this year’s event was created by Jesse Wright, a New Jersey artist and 2021’s New Jersey Art Teacher of the Year, whose work often draws on the global ties that connect us all. With that in mind, all guests over the age of 5 will be asked to provide proof of vaccination and be required to wear a mask or face covering when not eating or drinking.

Tickets are available for $35 in advance or $40 at the door. Special VIP tickets with early access to artwork for sale and a VIP happy hour are also available for $125 in advance or $150 at the door. Gallery Aferro is located at 73 Market Street in Newark, New Jersey.

For more information, visit or contact: Candace Nicholson, Gallery Director, (973) 353-9533,

Congratulations to everyone involved! You can now check the official 2022 list to see if your or your student’s name appears, and what level award was received. Gold level award winners will have their work showcased at an exhibit at Gallery Aferro opening on May 14, 2022. All level award winners will be presented with their keys and certificates during a ceremony held that night. All are welcome to attend to the night’s festivities: please join us as an extended community in celebrating the talents of local youth!

Congratulations again, everyone!

Please email with any questions.

Gallery Aferro and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers invite New Jersey teens in grades 7–12 to enter their original work to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Visit to Apply

Newark, NJ — September 15, 2021 — Gallery Aferro, the new Northern New Jersey Affiliate Partner of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit organization that presents the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, invites teens in Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Hudson, Morris, Sussex, Union, and Warren County to enter the country’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative students.

The Northern New Jersey Art Region is one of the larger regions of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, with teens entering more than 4,000 original works of art each year. In its new role, Gallery Aferro will process these entries, coordinate the awards selection, and celebrate the award recipients and their educators. Notable artists in the community will adjudicate the Awards based on originality, technical skill, and the emergence of personal vision or voice and without knowledge of the student’s name, gender, age, ethnicity, or hometown.

The Northern New Jersey Art Region’s Scholastic Awards were previously presented by the Montclair Art Museum. After 12 years of service, the Museum is pleased to pass the torch to Gallery Aferro, and looks forward to supporting them in their new role. Gallery Aferro is deeply familiar with the program, having helped in prior years to judge and select the awards for the Alliance’s remote programs across the US and Canada, as well as providing exhibition services to the Montclair Art Museum.

Founded in 2003, Gallery Aferro is an artist-owned alternative arts space proudly located in the heart of Newark, NJ. Their mission 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. Home to two major public exhibition spaces in a 20,000 sq. ft. building at 73 Market Street, Gallery Aferro offers exhibitions, events, a studio residency and fellowship program, educational programs, public art and new media initiatives such as their Poem Booth, a publication line, and legacy work with elder artists. To learn more about the artist-run space, visit

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have fostered creativity and talent since 1923 for millions of students and feature a notable list of alumni who received recognition through the program as teens, including Tschabalala Self, Stephen King, Kay WalkingStick, Charles White, Joyce Carol Oates, and Andy Warhol.

The deadline to apply in the Northern New Jersey Art region is December 23, 2021. To learn more about the 2022 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, or to enter, visit

“We are so excited to see the Scholastic Awards in northern New Jersey find a new home at Gallery Aferro, founded and run by a passionate team of artists who share our dedication to creative teens and will exemplify our mission to identify and recognize the next generation of great artists and writers,” said Daniel Embree, Director of National Programs at the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

“There are few things as meaningful and gratifying as being able to connect young artists with resources,” said Emma Wilcox, Executive Director and co-founder of Gallery Aferro. “We are thrilled to be able to champion the creative excellence of teens from across northern New Jersey, but especially here in our hometown of Newark.”


Founded in 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are presented by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, and are made possible through the generosity of Scholastic Inc., The Maurice R. Robinson Fund, New York Life Foundation, Command Companies, The New York Times, The Herb Block Foundation, Blick Art Materials & Utrecht Art Supplies, Quad, AppleTV+, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Salamander Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation, Salesforce, Garcia Family Foundation, Lindenmeyr Book Publishing Papers, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Golden Artist Colors, and numerous other individual, foundation, and corporate funders; and, for the National Student Poets Program, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Hearthland Foundation, Poetry Foundation, and Academy of American Poets.

For more information about the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, visit the Scholastic media room:

Gallery Aferro is back with their first in-person art auction celebration since 2019, and it promises to be unlike any other. On November 6th from 7:00pm to 10:00pm, the oldest artist-run gallery in Newark will present “Before The Wave: Celebrating the Gladys Barker Grauer Legacy” to not only honor the memory, influence and passion of “The Mother of Newark Arts,” but to also come together in a joyous gala for artists and art lovers to revel in music, dance, food, drinks and a little something extra.

This uniquely curated event will feature more than 20 works from Gladys Barker Grauer’s estate, reflecting on both her love of life and her determination to be a rule-breaker and trailblazer. Expanding on the connection to her legacy, the auction will also feature works from artists influenced, inspired or mentored by Grauer throughout her 70-year career. “Before The Wave” tips its hat to Grauer’s role in pursuing a life where creativity, equality and justice were inextricably intertwined before such a concept became a movement, a trend or a norm. 

Joining the showcase of works by Grauer and her admirers, the event will also include a video homage of her art with highlighted segments of past interviews, a tribute dance performance, remembrance speeches and anecdotes from friends, and a special gift for everyone to take home. 

All tickets are $20 and go on sale starting Saturday, October 2nd. Proceeds from the event will help Gallery Aferro to continue to sustain programs in alignment with Grauer’s values and vision, such as the digital humanities project The Prism Commissions; the historical retrospective series, Past & Power, featuring writing by and about women, art and radicalization; and the creation of, an educational microsite dedicated to sharing the nonagenarian’s renowned reputation with students, artists, collectors, and more. 

Described by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation as having an “expansive vision, impact in Newark as well as regionally and even internationally,” Gallery Aferro comes from an idiomatic Portuguese word meaning bound or chained to an insane idea or an idea that is difficult to achieve. The gallery believes this high praise combined with their commitment to manifest the true meaning of “aferro” is what led Grauer to gift the alternative art space the privilege to act as curatorial liaison for her artwork in the wake of her passing. And through this one-time-only, major celebratory event, Gallery Aferro aims to honor her choice, her legacy and her spirit.

Gallery Aferro is located at 73 Market Street in Newark, New Jersey. For more information, visit or contact: Candace Nicholson, Gallery Director, (973) 353-9533,

Gallery Aferro is excited to announce a new triad leadership structure with Gallery Manager Candace Nicholson taking on a new role as Gallery Director, joining Co-Founder and Artistic Director Evonne M. Davis and Co-Founder Emma Wilcox as a partner in the creative management of the 18-year arts organization.

Nicholson, with a multi-decade background in publishing and marketing, will team with Davis to expand Gallery Aferro’s longtime role in the arts ecosystem as a community-responsive and experimental artist-run space. Originally opened in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood in 2003, Gallery Aferro has always been committed to serving as a platform for the exchange of ideas in service of advancing human dignity and beauty, with a focus on visual, literary and sound art. The goal of the new leadership structure is to allow for this vision to not only continue during a critical moment in our nation’s artistic landscape, but to also flourish in a time of constant change.

“Since the beginning, my aim with Aferro has been to explore what it means to create and share a platform. The kind of work we’ve done over the past 18 years reflects the voices of so many people, each of whom has shaped what we are, and kept us changing and growing,” explains Davis.

Co-Founder Emma Wilcox will continue serving as a voice in Gallery Aferro’s leadership with the new title of Executive Director, supporting strategic research and development for programming and initiatives expressing Aferro’s mission and unique ethos. “Candace has sensitivity to the local and global, and shares our deep and abiding interest and care for a diverse range of creative experiences for all people,” Wilcox explains. “She also has the analytical tendencies befitting a proudly alternative space.”

With an appreciation for the integration of creativity, community and conscious healing, Nicholson looks forward to working with the leadership team to maintain Aferro’s vision while maneuvering through a (post)pandemic transition, as well as encouraging discourse on important topics that affect artists and art lovers alike. 

“For years, I’ve supported the arts as a means to connect, heal and thrive in a culture that views the creative community as expendable and unnecessary. Yet, throughout the lockdown, we saw millions turning to the arts and entertainment industry to help maintain their mental health and keep them connected to their friends, families, neighbors, and yes, even strangers,” Nicholson continues. “I don’t want to see that lesson go unlearned. So in this role, I hope to blaze more accessible, more inclusive, more visible trails for artists and arts advocacy, in addition to building on Aferro’s legacy in Newark and beyond.”

Works By “The Mother of Newark Arts” Find A Forever Home On

During her acceptance speech for her 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA), Gladys Barker Grauer being gracious, but wasting no time, held forth fiercely from the podium. She spoke directly — and with a different tone and urgency than the other honorees — about her many decades observing women artists turning to their own work only after long days of care for others and all the other business of living. 

She told us that if we saw another woman marginalized and losing the connection to her creative practice, we should “snatch her back.” It was galvanizing, hard-loving, and totally unforgettable. And it is with that directive that Gallery Aferro remains deeply honored to serve as curatorial liaison for Gladys’ work, and now for her legacy.

We are excited to share the new website with you, and ask that you share it with the people you know. With Gladys’ legacy serving as inspiration to so many, we want to contribute to the world as she did so generously, sharing her work with students, curators, researchers, educators, and others. And in the process, forever honoring her and her vision of uplifting the marginalized, the excluded, and the gracious who gave to so many others before giving to themselves.

So when we talk about sharing Gladys Barker Grauer’s legacy, we defer to her direct approach and say share it further. Push, celebrate, teach about, talk about, and as Camille Billops once said, “Let them know we were here.”

In the coming months, we will be adding many more artwork images from Gladys’ archive to the website. If you have a remembrance of Gladys, or information you would like to share about an artwork by her, please get in touch with us via the website so that continues to grow.

Past and Power: 1972 Released with Accompanying Screening

Past and Power is a continuing series from Gallery Aferro, featuring writings by women about art and radicalization. We’re aiming to make bridges between generations, across which ideas can be moved. To bridge the distance between life lived, and memory recalled, as well as between the language of radical movements past and present, is our intended task. For this second iteration, we’re traveling between now and 1972.

Read Now: Anne Q. McKeown, artist and master papermaker, revisits the Be-Cause Look Book, a massive artist book she co-created, largely on the road at age 22, documenting the sensibility of protests, countercultural, and counter-countercultural gatherings during the summer of ’72. Can you discern a major societal shift when it’s happening? When will the revolution come, and for whom? What is it like to revisit the past when it seems to be looping?

Read Past and Power: 1972 here

As an accompanying event, Gallery Aferro will host a free online screening of Born in Flames during Nov 4-5. This 1983 documentary-style production by Lizzie Borden is set in a hypothetical United States 10 years after the revolution, where the problems of contemporary era are far from being solved from the top-down. Borden worked largely with non-actors, including legendary activist lawyer florynce kennedy, to create a convincing and immersive fictive universe where different groups of radical women ultimately mobilize across race and class to create change… by any means necessary.

For full details of screening, visit here

CIC Image on pink horiz

Gallery Aferro’s “Change is Constant” Benefit Art Auction &
Party In A Box Honors
2020 Fortitude & Inclusivity

The start of this new decade has been nothing like what anyone expected, and many are still uncertain about what lies ahead. That’s why Gallery Aferro is embracing the enigma and reminding everyone that “Change Is Constant,” so why not honor 2020 resilience with art from a community of creative iconoclasts and celebrate for a night marking a new era of transformation and rebirth. This year’s benefit will take place in two dynamic forms — an online auction and a Party In A Box.

Not since 2001 has a blue moon fallen on Halloween, but the calendar read 1944 the last time the entire globe experienced a blue moon together. Combine this with the “extra” hour of nightfall thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time occurring overnight, this year’s All Hallows’ Eve will be beyond exceptional and deserving of a singular event to honor the occasion. To bless the thinning of the veil, Gallery Aferro invites everyone to enjoy an online auction of more than 100 works by local, national and international artists who continue to persist and insist in a time of unprecedented change. 

The fundraiser will help Aferro continue to provide avenues, which are in danger of disappearing now more than ever, for the artistic community to grow and expand. From promoting women artists of color and artists who are parents in our fellowship residency program to commissioning Black artist-writers and combating erasure with digital humanities to crafting unique, immersive experiences for the public to engage art in new, exciting ways (like with our upcoming Poem Booth), the gallery is committed to serving underrepresented voices in the creative community and producing a platform for the unheard. 

After 5 weeks, the auction will culminate in another extraordinary event for our less-than-ordinary times: a Party In A Box. This unparalleled fete brings an end to the fundraiser in a “party-together-apart” virtual jubilee with a special package delivered to patrons’ doors filled with limited edition art, a personalized music playlist, ready-to-enjoy nibbles and cocktails, and memorable prizes that the community has come to love at an Aferro annual benefit. Party guests will order their boxes in advance, then on November 28th, join the festivities online in a counter-consumer celebration where all attendees will open their packages at 7pm and revel in the collective joy that only inclusivity, resilience and creativity can bring.

Everyone is welcome to bid in the online auction for free. The Party In A Box packages range from $50 to $200, and must be ordered by midnight on Halloween. For more information about the online auction and the Party In A Box, visit or contact: Candace Nicholson, Gallery Manager, (973) 353-9533,


Past and Power: Radical Writing by Women

“…Monuments as traditionally conceptualized are thought of as the endpoint of a historical event or period. What if we thought of them as a continuation, as the bridge between what happened and how time falls forward? Or as discontinuous eruptions? Time is not linear.” –Paul Farber and Ken Lum, Monument Lab, June 2020

Past and Power is a new series from Gallery Aferro, featuring writings by women about art and radicalization. We’re aiming to make bridges between generations, across which ideas can be moved. To bridge the distance between life lived, and memory recalled, as well as between the language of radical movements past and present, is our intended task. For this first iteration, we’re traveling between now and 1967.

Read Now: Edie Grauer, daughter of Gladys Barker Grauer (1923-2019), shares the story of how her mother created the first of many artworks addressing police brutality and murder, as a protest and catharsis. This was after the 1967 beating of her husband and other strikers with Local 1199 by the police, as sanctioned and actively directed by Newark city leadership.

Read Past and Power: 1967 here

As an accompanying event, Gallery Aferro will host a September 23-24 online screening of I Am Somebody, made in 1970 by Madeline Anderson. This documentary covers the 113-day Charleston hospital strike the year before. The film is told from the perspective of the Black female workers who led the strike, with their newly founded branch of Local 1199 in Charleston, South Carolina, Local 1199B.  Like Grauer, Anderson is a pioneering African-American female artist, also born in the 1920’s. Amongst her many accomplishments: she was the first Black woman to join Local 700 as a film editor. For full details of screening, visit here

Announcing The Prism Commissions: Writing by artists, from Gallery Aferro

Gallery Aferro is pleased to announce a new series, The Prism Commissions, as a compliment to our expanding residency fellowship program, and as the latest in our 17 year history of publishing different kinds of artist books and writing.  Our inaugural prompt, Defining the Present, will inform new longform writing by three important artist/thinkers of our time.

These commissioned works live at

The naming of this series is based on the idea of refracting light and making layers visible. Commissions will focus on Black writers and derive from an open-ended prompt, with a curatorial interest in both words and pictures as it is relevant to the artist’s line of inquiry and contemplation.

The word “present” could connote today, yesterday, or an epoch or trajectory we may or may not be in. There is also the question of who is present, as in “those present” in a time and/or place. To present something might be to argue that it is.

Commissioned Writers:

Read: Untitled, Lisa Bradley

Lisa Bradley is a visual artist who plays with words and social theory as ways to enter & activate her practice. She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Sculpture & Extended Media department, and earned the MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as an MA in Art & Media Practice from Westminster University in London,UK. Lisa has taught in universities throughout the US, the UK, and West Africa. Describing herself as a “reluctant nomad”; she currently lives between Brooklyn NY and Dakar, Senegal, and uses her liminal status as both concept and material in her visual work. Lisa exhibits her work nationally and internationally and cites astrology,The Cartoon Network, and ‘whatever Oprah says’ as her strongest creative influences.

Read: Descendants of Freedom: Free Black Communities Drowning in Violence, Noelle Lorraine Williams

Noelle Lorraine Williams lives and works in Newark, NJ. Her work examines the ways African Americans utilize culture to imagine liberation in the United States. Her practice as a curator, artist, and writer is where history, spirituality, culture, and rebellion meet. Her work has been mentioned and critiqued in the Star-Ledger, New York Times, ArtNews, and other publications. Recently, the exhibition she curated “Radical Women” received the Giles Wright Award for significant contributions to African American history in New Jersey. She recently received her Master of Arts in American Studies with a focus on Public Humanities at Rutgers University-Newark.

Williams is currently curating and researching Black Power! 19th Century: Newark’s First African American Rebellion.  Her website is and you can follow her on Instagram at black_abolitionists_newark.

Read: From Slavery to Freedom, Nell Painter

Nell Painter (the painter formerly known as the historian Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People, Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol, and Creating Black Americans and the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, Princeton University) lives and works in Newark, New Jersey. Her most recent book, Old in Art School was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. Her website is

“My work carries discursive as well as visual meaning, and I make it in my characteristic manual + digital process. Using found images and digital manipulation; I reconfigure the past and revision myself through self-portraits. After a life of historical truth and political engagement with American society, my artwork represents freedom. Including the freedom to be totally self-centered.”


Gallery Aferro is Closed Temporarily to help slow the spread of COVID-19

Beloved Community,

We are reaching out to update you on our current actions and plans for the future as we monitor the Coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions evolving locally and nationally. We also wanted to remind you that artists have always, and will always be able to chronicle, to elude, to rework, to describe, and to connect, across time, distance, and difference.

In a concerted effort to help slow the spread of Covid-19, Gallery Aferro is temporarily closing our gallery to the public and postponing upcoming public programs. This postponement will affect People’s Open Mic, the Spring Open Studios event, the Aferro Internship program, and means that our current exhibitions will be extended with the goal of re-opening them when it is safe to do so.

We also regret to announce that Gallery Aferro has made the extremely difficult decision to postpone our 12th annual benefit and auction to the Fall 2020 season. Although our benefit secures funds that support our most vital programs and allows us to provide for the needs and aspirations of artists of all backgrounds, the health of the community requires us to shift our attention.

The best path forward is the one we take together, so our immediate actions will be focused on addressing the current demands of the Aferro community and securing a future where we can all come back together for a brighter and more sustainable future.

If you are able to donate now please do so at In the words of our 2020 Sustainable Arts Fellow Katrina Bello: “it is the dialogue, conversations and other exchanges that make Gallery Aferro such a vital, important, and much cherished place of people, art, experiments, ideas, rages, hopes and dreams.” We will be experimenting with creating space for some of this dialogue online in the coming weeks.

We will inform everyone of our exact plans regarding the return of our public programs and our annual benefit, including the rescheduled date, as soon as we can. As working people, and as lifelong believers in social and economic justice for all, we know that Covid-19 will have a disproportionate impact on the health and economic security of New Jersey’s most vulnerable and underserved communities. We hope you will join us in working toward a healthier, more sustainable future.

Please take care of yourself, check on your neighbors and loved ones with regular calls and messages during this time of social distancing, and remember that we will get through this together. On behalf of Aferro, we love you and wish you and your families continued health and safety!

For updates (and reminders of beauty, mystery, and complexity) please check our website and follow us on social media — Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook — and share with your fellow artists and community if you are so moved.


“Change is Good” at Gallery Aferro’s
12th Annual Benefit Art Auction & Party

Gallery Aferro welcomes the new decade with a celebration of rebirth and revolution for its 12th Annual Benefit Art Auction & Party. This year’s theme — Change is Good — highlights a night of iconoclastic expression combined with music, food, cocktails, and prizes. On Saturday, April  25th from 7pm to 10pm, hundreds of artworks available for auction will bring together art lovers and art buyers to proudly mark the beginning of a new era of social, civic and cultural awakening. 

The fundraiser will help Aferro create new innovative projects, including an interactive poetry phone booth and interdisciplinary events, and maintain popular programming, such as artist talks, educational outreach, publications, legacy work for women and LGBTQ+ elders, and year-round exhibitions featuring established and up-and-coming artists, as well as Newark’s oldest ongoing artist workspace program. Last year, thanks to donor and community support, the residency program expanded to offer two fellowships designed to serve under-represented groups in the arts community — artists who are parents and women-of-color artists. 

Eager art enthusiasts who’ve come out to the benefit in the past will notice the new date change. The fundraiser was held in June for 11 years straight, but now finds a new home in April, capitalizing on the theme Change is Good. “The world is changing. And artists have always been at the forefront of change … Aferro is now in its 17th year as a woman-led artist space bridging inclusivity and discovery, while holding space for grassroots community initiatives, and for all who wish to support,” said gallery co-founder Emma Wilcox. “Our core belief is that art is for everyone.” 

The evening will also include all new artwork never before seen at an Aferro auction, including works from artists like Bisa Washington, Jo-El Lopez, Abel Barroso, Faith Ringgold, Geri Hahn, Xaviera Simmons, and Dahlia Elsayed. Imagery for the event was designed by Elsayed, known for her allegorical landscapes rooted cartography, comics and cosmology. When attendees aren’t bidding on their favorite pieces, they can enjoy rare vinyl tracks from DJ Kortez, raffle contests, a piñata, a Nasto’s ice cream bar, and delicious nibbles like artist-made cupcakes.

Tickets are available for $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Special VIP tickets with early access to artwork for sale and a VIP happy hour are also available for $125 in advance or $150 at the door. Gallery Aferro is located at 73 Market Street in Newark, New Jersey.

For more information, visit or contact: Candace Nicholson, Gallery Manager, (973) 353-9533, 

Hope Obama quilt at Gallery Aferro

NJIT Vector covers Gallery Aferro’s Fall Exhibition Opening

Birju Dhaduk, a student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and staff writer for The Vector, the official student newspaper of NJIT, reached out to Gallery Aferro in the days leading up to the opening of their 2019 Fall Exhibition to request a visit to the arts space while the team were working hard to prepare for the opening on October 5th. Thanks to a warm and supportive relationship established from previous events coordinated with the NJIT staff and students, the gallery was happy to welcome Dhaduk and take the time to discuss the current exhibition and why it stands out in a city, area and state brimming with great art and artists.

During his interview with Gallery Manager Candace Nicholson, Dhaduk reviewed the three exhibitions and learned about the origins of each concept and why they were included in the Fall Exhibition. The intrepid Mathematics major also returned to the gallery for the opening reception to chat with Maureen Kelleher, the curator of The Social Justice Collaboration Quilts Project featuring the Quilts of Angola Prison exhibit, and Geri Hahn, the featured artist of the solo show Still Living Out Loud currently on display in the second floor memorial gallery.

To learn what Kelleher and Hahn had to say, and read Dhaduk’s final article, visit The Vector website or follow the link below:

Aferro at Nico image

Visual artists step into the spotlight
as NJPAC launches partnership with Gallery Aferro

The Arts Center’s restaurant, NICO Kitchen + Bar, will double as gallery space for artists affiliated with the longtime standard-bearer of Newark’s arts scene

NEWARK, N.J. (October 4, 2019) —Newark-bound art lovers with an appetite for innovative exhibits are invited to savor Raw Umber, the inaugural art exhibit of a new partnership between Newark’s Gallery Aferro and NJPAC. Through this collaboration, Gallery Aferro will curate a rotating series of group shows in the dining rooms of NICO Kitchen + Bar, NJPAC’s upscale in-house restaurant.

The new partnership between the Arts Center and Gallery Aferro, located in Newark’s downtown at 73 Market Street, launches with the October 12, 2pm, opening of Raw Umber, an exhibition of 14 works. (The reception is free and open to the public as part of the Newark Arts Festival, although registration on the NJPAC website is recommended.)

The exhibit’s name refers to the family of colors derived from naturally occurring pigments in the earth: rich dark-brown tones, yellows, fiery oranges and reds. This inaugural exhibition will be on view through March 3, 2020 during regular hours at the restaurant on the NJPAC campus at One Center Street. 

NICO Kitchen + Bar’s up-tempo ambiance and contemporary setting provide the perfect surroundings for satellite exhibits, according to NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber.

“As a mainstay in the city for the past 16 years, Gallery Aferro has provided a showcase for fine art and has championed scores of artists who call Newark home,” Schreiber said. “We saw this collaboration as a unique opportunity to acknowledge the gallery’s longstanding and venerable role as an advocate for Newark’s arts and culture.”

The multimedia pieces on display for this and future exhibits will be curated by Gallery Aferro, which was founded in 2003 and is run by artists Evonne M. Davis and Emma Wilcox. Artwork is also available for purchase.

“I’ve always enjoyed having conversations with John Schreiber. We lead and run two very differently-scaled arts organizations in the same community, but there’s a lot of overlap in our circles,” Wilcox explains.

“It felt natural that Gallery Aferro could work with NJPAC, and we just started talking about ways of sharing the vitality of Newark’s art scene and the energy, the prolific energy, that comes out of our artist residencies,” said Wilcox. 

Most artists participating in Raw Umber have collaborated with Gallery Aferro in the past or are among the more than 100 alumni of the gallery’s decade-long artist residency program. Among them are:

  • Marsha Goldberg, a current artist-in-residence at Gallery Aferro, whose work is exquisitely sensitive to the atmospheric shifts of light, shadow and air that define our experience of the world. 
  • Anne Q. McKeown, a master papermaker and longtime resident at Gallery Aferro, who works with painting, printmaking, papermaking and wire drawings to make and take apart systems using color, chance and intuition. McKeown’s artworks included in Raw Umber are works on Ugandan bark cloth hand-pounded from fibers, visualizing a visceral tie to the earth. 
  • Gladys Barker Grauer, known as the “Mother of Newark Arts,” who passed away earlier this year. Her piece in this exhibit is a hypnotic self-portrait that features a subtle spider web motif.
  • Ibrahim Ahmed iii, an Aferro artist in residence in 2013, who now resides in Cairo. Included in the exhibit is his dramatically scaled portrait, completed before he left Newark.
  • L. Gluck of St. Thomas is represented with a deceptively simple early 1960’s watercolor.

These pieces are joined by works by Reginald K. Gee, Stephen Flemister, Floyd Newsum Jr., and E. J. Montgomery from the collection of Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, which reveals Newark’s cultural connections to multiple generations of important artists of color.

“We wanted to select art that would glow,” said Wilcox. “These pieces share a luscious palette of strong tones, and there’s some very intense portraiture. This is art that will stare back at you.”

Hours for nico kitchen + bar:
Lunch: Mondays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Happy Hour: Mondays-Fridays, 4-7 p.m.
Dinner: Mondays-Thursdays until 9 p.m. and Fridays until 11 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays: open in conjunction with performances.

About Gallery Aferro
73 Market Street
Newark, NJ 07102 or (973-353-9533)

Gallery Aferro, founded and run in Newark, NJ, by two artists – Evonne M. Davis and Emma Wilcox – offers year-round exhibitions and a 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. Gallery Aferro can be visited Wed.-Sat., noon-6 p.m. and by appointment at 73 Market Street. Stop by to see our 20,000-square-foot downtown space, with four floors of artist studios, two gallery spaces, two sound art installations (a vintage payphone and elevator, respectively), a community book room with almost 3,000 books, and on October 13, 2019, our highly popular, biannual open studios.

Twitter: @GalleryAferro
Instagram: @Gallery_Aferro
Hashtag: #GalleryAferro

One Center Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102 or 888.GO.NJPAC (888.466.5722)

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, N.J., is America’s most diverse performing arts center, and the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted nearly 10 million visitors (including over 1.7 million children) since opening its doors in 1997 and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.

Get Social! Follow NJPAC Online:
Twitter:        @NJPAC
Instagram:   @NJPAC
Hashtag:     #NJPAC
YouTube:     NJPACtv

Gladys Barker Grauer - hi-res horizontal AMPS

Gladys Barker Grauer called home at 96

It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of our dear friend and mentor Gladys Barker Grauer. She was not only a fierce and powerful woman, an elegant and graceful woman, Gladys was a trailblazing artist and feminist. We are so very fortunate to have worked with her and learned from her. She shared the stories of her life freely and without hesitation so others could join her in making this community and this world a better and more just place for women, for people of color, for those living in poverty and struggling in an unequal society.

Her contributions are almost impossible to measure and her legacy will be hard to live up to. She will always hold the highest place of honor in our hearts and will always be remembered as a leader, a teacher, and a friend. She will be remembered for her brilliance, her generosity and her unwavering commitment to speaking truth to power – loudly – every day.  

All of our lives are better for having known her, and now, in any way that we can, we must honor her by carrying on her work. We must honor her by telling our truths, caring for and lifting up each other. We must honor her by finding small and large ways to use our voices in our community to make it more safe, more just, and more beautiful for everyone.

Gladys, you have given us so much. Thank you for sharing your power and your stories and your art with us for over 90 years. You will always be remembered, honored and loved.

Gallery Aferro included in Discover Jersey Arts feature
on the 2019 Newark Arts Festival

Discover Jersey Arts released their Fall 2019 Season Preview Guides for North, Central and South Jersey for in late September, and included in the North Jersey guide was a feature on the then-upcoming Newark Arts Festival with an interview with Lauren Craig of the Newark Arts Council. In the piece, Craig details different elements of the 2019 event to look forward to and seek out.

Among the festival features named was the Brown Girls Art Crawl, a walking tour held every year during the festival to introduce art patrons to the creative community and opportunities to support the arts in downtown Newark. Paired with her description of the Crawl was a photo of last year’s BGAC taken at Gallery Aferro during their opening reception for Portraits of People We Love in the Main Gallery. The image was a gracious reminder of the enthusiastic, diverse and supportive art-loving community that makes spaces like Aferro possible in Newark.

Three Perfect Days - Newark

Gallery Aferro included in Newark-focused feature
in Hemispheres magazine

Recently United Airlines published an article in their in-flight travel magazine, Hemispheres, sharing highlights of about Newark’s past, present and future. Written by Richard Morgan with photographs by Ricky Rhodes, the article, “Three Perfect Days: Newark” gives readers a quick overview of what America’s third oldest major European-settlement has to offer.

The spaces, places and activities that filled Morgan’s three days in Newark provides newcomers, visitors and passers-by with a packed schedule full of some of the city’s best. Gallery Aferro is proud to be included in that schedule, if only in a brief mention. It can’t be denied that the city is on the path to bigger and better things, and if Aferro is viewed as one of the reasons why people should visit, who are we to argue.

Small Clip feat Gallery Aferro

Aferro Studios logo

Gallery Aferro kicks off 2019 season with 3 new exhibitions

Gallery Aferro announces its first major show of 2019 will begin on Saturday, April 6th at 7-10pm with the opening reception for three new exhibitions. The artist-originated organization seeks to celebrate and cultivate the many creative minds who have passed through their doors as studio residents and continue to contribute as mentors, touchstones and provocateurs.

The first exhibit, Process and Practice, located in the Main Gallery, honors the Aferro Studios Residency Program that has welcomed more than 100 artists to the multi-floor studio workspaces since 2006 to craft, build, paint and toil over their next great creation. Bringing together past and current residents in this exclusive exhibition, Aferro celebrates their diverse accomplishments, energy and talent with the creative community they represent.

In the Eleta J. Caldwell and Rodney M. Gilbert Memorial Gallery on the second floor, Folding The Line features a visual survey of works by Anne Q. McKeown, long-time Aferro Studios resident, world-renowned papermaker, and beloved globetrotting mentor. This exhibition not only introduces her work to the Aferro community as the Gallery takes on its new role as her official curatorial liaison, but it also highlights her fountain of creativity that never ceases to move, encourage and provoke. In her own words, “I am not looking to create an order. I am recording a moment of being.”

The third exhibit features Aferro’s permanent sound installation activated by a prolific, self-taught sound artist. Elevator Music 5: Daniel Shaw, curated by Juno Zago, invites visitors to step inside an early-1900s refurbished Otis Elevator and experience Shaw’s world: upbeat instrumental music created from unlikely and imaginative sound palettes. At times, the music is aggressive; others, it is sprawling and melodic, yet certainly unlike anything you’ve heard this year.

The free, all-ages event scheduled from 7-10pm will serve refreshments, and encourage all visitors to learn more about the upcoming Spring Open Studios event on April 13th. Aferro is also excited to make available the limited edition “Cloud” by Cuban-American artist Luiz Cruz Azaceta in our on-site Art Shop.

For Full Artist Listing, see For Publicity Images, contact: Candace Nicholson, Gallery Manager, (973) 353-9533,


Gallery Aferro Directors Emma Wilcox and Evonne M. Davis to speak at 107th CAA Annual Conference

In February, the College Art Association will hold their annual conference dedicated to promoting the visual arts through advocacy, intellectual engagement, and a commitment to diversity of practices and practitioners. The 107th CAA Annual Conference will feature more than 300 sessions spanning a range of topics over four days in New York, NY. Included among the distinguished speakers, luminaries and panelists in this year’s conferences are Gallery Aferro co-founders and directors Emma Wilcox and Evonne M. Davis.

Wilcox and Davis will take part in a panel discussion titled “Alternative Models: Artist-run Galleries and Curatorial Collectives” hosted by co-chairs Steve Rossi and Sarah Comfort on Wednesday, February 13th from 4-5pm in the Murray Hill Suite at the New York Hilton Midtown.

Along with fellow panelists Rhia Hurt of Brooklyn Art Spaces & Trestle Gallery, Rachael Gorchov & Andrew Prayzner of Tiger Strikes Asteroid, and Jacob Rhodes of Field Projects, Wilcox and Davis will share details of their experience forming an artist-run gallery as an alternative to commercially driven art enterprises and institutional spaces. With the start of their 16th year leading Gallery Aferro in the ever-changing creative landscape of Newark, NJ, Wilcox and Davis will discuss how they’ve formed, survived and plan to evolve in their alternative art space and a city in the midst of a revitalization.

Water Plus Time (Lost performance video still) by Michael K. Taylor

Water Plus Time (Lost performance video still) by Michael K. Taylor

Celebrating Three Years of Sustainable Arts Fellowship at Gallery Aferro

Gallery Aferro is proud to celebrate three years of the Sustainable Arts Fellowship, supporting artists who are parents. To date, six artists have received the fellowship: Lisette Morel (2016), Caitlin Masley (2016), Mary Valverde (2017), Amy Faris (2017), Michael K. Taylor (2018), and Bud McNichol (2018). Fellows receive a fully funded work space studio and stipend for a 6-month residency. This is made possible with the generous partnership of the Sustainable Arts Foundation, advancing their mission of supporting artists and writers with families.


Gallery Aferro announces new role as curatorial liaison for Gladys Barker Grauer

Gallery Aferro is proud to work with Gladys Barker Grauer to help facilitate all research, purchases, and exhibition services for Grauer’s art catalog. Collectors, curators, scholars, educators, students, and art enthusiasts can now inquire with the gallery staff about Grauer’s body of artworks, as well as access catalogued images and information about her extensive collection of paintings, prints, textiles, and sculptures the alternative art space now stewards. More than five decades of artwork are held at the gallery, ranging from striking early prints dating from her radicalization in Chicago ca. 1940s to recent double-sided textile masterworks made in 2017.

To learn more about the significance of Grauer’s work, join the gallery in congratulating Gladys Barker Grauer as she is honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) at the New York Institute for Technology (NYIT) on Saturday, February 16, 2019 from 5:30-7pm. The ceremony recognizes the contribution of women in the arts and the social impact of their work throughout their lifetime. The nonagenarian and cultural icon of the Newark arts scene will be honored alongside Mary Beth Edelson, Olga de Amaral, and Mira Schor.

2018 Annual Art Sale webversion.jpg


10th Annual Aferro Art Sale & Artisan Market

Come out to Gallery Aferro’s End-of-Year Open House,

Gift Market-on-Market and Potluck Party

NEWARK, NJ — As the cold weather rolls in, our minds turn to gift giving, delicious food and family fun. That’s why Gallery Aferro welcomes you to our annual art sale, open house, artisan market and potluck party. This year, we’re extending the art sale and gift market to a whole 2 weeks! The festivities are FREE and all are welcome. Plus, proceeds from the sales of art and artisan items support Gallery Aferro’s award-winning nonprofit art programs.

From Saturday, December 8th through Saturday, December 22nd, 73 Market Street becomes the gift market destination for anyone looking to deck the halls and share in the artisanal craftsmanship of Newark’s creative community. Open late nights to help meet all your seasonal shopping needs. Gallery Aferro will make affordable art buying the easiest shopping experience you’ll have all December.

Establish or enlarge an art collection for your friends, your family or yourself. We proudly offer art from a wide range of styles by an extraordinary array of talent — local, national and international. From $50-$500, with limited edition prints, photographs, paintings, artist multiples, artist books, T-shirts, music, and more, you can take home something for everyone. The entire gallery will be decked in art — all for sale, all for you.

And on December 15th, everyone is welcome to Aferro’s one and only end-of-year open house and potluck party. While browsing our gallery walls, enjoy shopping the wares of local, diverse artisans and chowing down on the multi-ethnic cuisine. The day-long event will also feature $5 family portraits, a 50/50 raffle, and a youth dance performance by Newark’s own Clubhouse Recreation Center to keep our spirits bright.

If you’ve never been, join us!

If you’ve been coming every year and already have your recipe picked out for potluck, join us!

If you fall somewhere in between, join us!

Come out to nosh, browse and spend time with new friends, neighbors and strangers.

For more information and to obtain high-resolution images for promotion, contact: Candace Nicholson, Gallery Manager, (973) 353-9533, 

The following op-ed was published on Brick City Live on December 16, 2018.

What We Choose To Value

Jerry Gant at Gallery Aferro

Jerry Gant performing at the close of his solo project at Gallery Aferro, 2014. Photo courtesy Emma Wilcox.

Editor’s note: Hycide Magazine will host a celebration of Gant’s life and legacy on December 16 from 5-9 p.m. at the Newark Museum.

This is dedicated to Jerry Gant (1962-2018)
and to my collaborator and beloved, Evonne M. Davis
and to the kids (these days)
and to the elders
and to anyone and everyone else who did or does the work.

First Verse: How Long ‘Til We Are Visible?

 Not that anyone asked but here I am walking past a Newark city street sign that directed people towards the building City Without Walls Gallery[1] once occupied.

I am thinking of a meeting for the Newark Walks signage trail featuring significant sites in the city.  I had asked if any art galleries were to be included.

The response was something to the effect of “Well, they aren’t permanent enough.

Still walking, I am rounding the corner of Market Street as I have countless times since 2003 when I was 23, and now I am 38, and I think about how the gallery my partner Evonne M. Davis and I founded, Gallery Aferro, is still here. Fifteen years. Now that Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art (open for more than three decades) is closed as well, our artist-founded organization is the oldest gallery currently open.

Many startups have come and gone. Many politically connected initiatives have come and gone. Restaurants, many of them chain, open and close, with the attendant ribbon cuttings and then sometimes, soon enough, “Closed” signs.

And I walk, and I open the doors of the building where my gallery is. Which has no directional street signage, even. But many, many people know the way there. When is something permanent enough to be seen? Is the work of our lives merely provisional?

All of this is not about me, or street signs, or particulars of any kind.

It’s about seeing and valuing what is right in front of you in your community.

Imagine if the money that has been spent over the past decade pandering to this or that celebrity was spent on some modest but quality promotional work for some of our most talented, veteran local artists?

Imagine if we decided to take back the system of value from the people who seem to be in control of it, and got to actually define our own local landmarks?

Second Verse: The Narrative

It is crucial to celebrate, support, document and appreciate your local people and spaces while they are alive. In case I wasn’t sure already, I have learned beyond doubt in the past few years of working with our artist elders that if we don’t tell the history of our own communities it will be erased, ignored, or our accomplishments misattributed to entities deemed more palatable. Along the predictable power axes of race, gender, class and sexuality. Who is ascribed the title of “visionary,” or “leader?” Whose work is seen?

This celebrating of the local I speak of is not some calcified tokenizing hyperlocalism. That extreme is a reaction in response to the wounding salt of the other extreme, which is erasure, the misattribution, the willful blindness and absence of aroused curiosity about people and place, the tabula rasa view.

No, I want a vigorous, rigorous love of who each of us is, our idiosyncrasies and unique talents and contributions, our embodied consciousness. Not the faceless “local artist” as a kind of abstracted checkbox, a little press release filler.  Not “the galleries.” I’m talking names. Being seen, and ascribed worth and value for our work.

Right now I personally straddle somewhere between elder and young’un when it comes to artist/culture worker and queer generations. As Jerry Gant said just weeks ago, “This is the time to perform for those who came before us…” Another artist who, like me, also sustains an arts space, Baltimore’s Pierre Bennu, wrote of the late Ntozake Shange: “She gave us, back to us. There are artists that do that from time to time in every generation and she was one of them.…I felt like so many of our greats are passing away in these very quiet ways, and we’re not acknowledging our heroes like we have to. We have to acknowledge them as the paradigm shifts and we become those elders.”

[1] *Newark’s oldest running artist-founded organization; open more than four decades till its recent closure.

Third Verse: Say It Proudly

It is notable that the citywide arts festival began with artists opening their spaces—usually live/work spaces—and generally commercially zoned (read: illegal to live there).

This is significant because any conversation about spaces happening presently needs to be firmly grounded in the reality of artist’s and art’s orgs’ budgets and actual funding sources.

A few years back I was asked to attend a meeting wherein would-be councilmen spoke as to whether they had a vision for the city that included the arts.  One indicated his by speaking of seeing off-Broadway plays in a “Theatre with, you know…leaking pipes and everything.”

To mangle William Blake[1], if the leaking pipe does not kill a theatre let none say that the art was in consequence of the leaking pipe. Another way to put it: don’t confuse the correlation of tiny budgets with the causation of excellent work.

I have been to way too many meetings in the past two years where discussion ran something to the effect of: “Small orgs should just get stronger boards, increase their budgets, and then keeping the arts in communities would be possible.”

So I say to anyone interested in this issue: let’s give up the fantasy that we don’t have to intervene and can just let unfettered market forces shape communities.  

Let’s proudly say that it is necessary to interfere. To joyfully subsidize.

Unfettered market forces are no more “organic,” and subsidizing arts spaces no more “artificial,” than say, a 30-year tax abatement for a commercial project is.

It’s not dirty to say what you want.

Say you want it.

Say you want art, artists, and art spaces in your community. 

I reject hand wringing and acting like the disappearance of arts spaces is inevitable. It’s not. But we have to subsidize based on the actual economics of the (real, not theoretical) culture workers in our beloved community.

How about an endowed arts fund for small Newark art spaces? To those in positions of power and access, this is your moment to act. With works, and not just professed faith.

You can create something of lasting value, by sustaining what we create, that is of lasting value.

This is it. This is the moment to act.

Last Verse: What We Choose To Value

I am walking down the streets I have walked so many times before, and I am thinking of all the faces and voices of people I know and have known, and all the work, the stories, the contributions, the beautiful, beautiful moments. I’m thinking about how much of what I know of our local cultural history I know because another artist or culture worker told me about it. And I share the stories in turn.

Power concedes nothing on its own. I’m thinking of Newark’s own WBGO, whose origins lie with an underutilized broadcast license that activists convinced the Newark Public School System to transfer for use as a jazz station.

This shows us that creating and sustaining space for work of cultural value doesn’t just happen in some automatic, predetermined way, but is instead a purposeful interruption of the order of things, a creative act. And it comes from choosing what we value, in a sustained way.

Again I say, how about an endowed arts fund for the city? A purposeful interruption of the inertia of the current order of things. A collectively authored love letter, declarative, of what we hold dear and don’t want to lose.

Alice Walker writes, in her poem, “We Alone,” about how we choose value, and the power that has.

“We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.”

To those in positions of power and access, I say to you, as best I can from the platform I have, for as long as my words can have some staying power, today, in 2018;

What are you choosing to value?


Emma Wilcox is an artist, and co-founder, with artist Evonne M. Davis, of Gallery Aferro, established 2003 in Newark, NJ.
if you’re serious about action.

[1]  a blight never does good to a tree & if a blight kill not a tree but it still bear fruit let none say that the fruit was in consequence of the blight.

Lisette Morel Cultbytes

Lisette Morel’s solo exhibition featured on Cultbytes!

Two Spirits Puerto Rico Art News SMALL

Two Spirits featured on Puerto Rico Art News!

rodney_eleta_final low res


Newark cultural figures to be honored with launch of the Eleta J. Caldwell and Rodney M. Gilbert Memorial Gallery, with inaugural exhibit opening February 10, 2018 at Gallery Aferro

Inaugural Exhibit: Well Hung: a Multifaceted Interrogation of Stereotypes

Curated by Jo-El Lopez

Opening Reception and Gallery Dedication February 10, 2018 from 7-10 PM

February 10 – March 16, 2018

Featured Artists: Ben F. Jones, Jerry Gant, Victor Davson, Vaughn Spann, Kevin Darmanie, Mashell Black, Anthony E. Boone, Steve Green, Suliman Onque, Kern Samuel, Ron Powell, & 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. Educators and activity planners are encouraged to contact the gallery to book a free tour of the exhibits for their youth or adult groups.

Siddhartha Mitter Overlooked Art Dom Article for web

Siddharta Mitter features Dominique Duroseau’s solo exhibition Black Things in White Spaces at Gallery Aferro in the Village Voice Article “The Year in Overlooked Art”!

Resistance Across Time Brooklyn Rail Article Small

Exhibition Resistance Across Time: Interference Archive curated by Gallery Aferro’s Founding Artistic Director Evonne M. Davis on display at Paul Robeson Gallery in Express Newark reviewed by the Brooklyn Rail

Duroseau Hyperallergic Article Small

Gallery Aferro Studio Resident Dominique Duroseau featured in Hyperallergic for her Solo Exhibition Black Things in White Spaces at Gallery Aferro

Duroseau Artefuse Article Small

Gallery Aferro Studio Resident Dominique Duroseau featured in Artefuse for her Solo Exhibition Black Things in White Spaces at Gallery Aferro

Village Voice Art Scene in Newark Article Small

Gallery Aferro featured in Village Voice article highlighting the growing art scene in Newark NJ

Betty Zine Fest Verizon Coverage Small

The Bettyz, in collaboration with Gallery Aferro and Express Newark, present the Bettyz Zine Fest, covered by Fios 1 News

Lopez - Angel cropped low-res


Newark Museum Acquires Artwork by Gallery Aferro Resident Artist Jo-El Lopez

NEWARK, NJ – Gallery Aferro is pleased to announce the acquisition by the Newark Museum of a painting by current artist-in-residence Jo-El Lopez. Millennial Guardian Angel, first exhibited in Lopez’ solo show at Gallery Aferro in 2016, will be accessioned into the Newark Museum’s permanent collection of American art and will be included in a future installation of contemporary art in the Museum’s Seeing America galleries. Lopez is inspired by the usage of technology as “millennial’s most defining characteristic”, as well as “their tech-based rituals that other generations find intriguing.”

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 and the multidimensional contemporary urban experience. 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. His is a restless, deeply engaged spirit closely observing not only his immediate environment, but the larger historic trajectory of national news.

Millennial Guardian Angel’s is representative of Lopez’ emotional range, sense of spirituality, and playfulness. “Other works created during the same period, such as “The Kiss at the 16th Avenue Baptist Church,” depicting two women kissing within the church, and ‘The Virgin Miracle,” depicting the mother of Jesus as a woman of color mirthfully in possession of mysterious knowledge, seem to exist in a timeless space of love and resistance”, writes Gallery Director Emma Wilcox.


Gallery Aferro has once again been nominated for multiple awards by Discover NJ’s People’s Choice Awards! Click the image above to vote for us!


NJ State of the Arts feature on Gallery Aferro’s Exhibit Kea’s Ark of Newark. Click the image to watch the whole feature!


Girl Scouts from all over NJ converged on Gallery Aferro and worked with artists Norene Leddy and Jay Van Buren using drawing, photographs, and Membit (an augmented reality app), to visualize past, present, and future versions of Kea Tawana’s ark, and then geolocate the drawings in the Humanity Baptist Church parking lot at 235 Bergen Street in Newark, NJ, the ark’s final location. The drawings are viewable in and around the church parking lot via Membit, as well as online at


Gallery Aferro’s Founder and Gallery Director, Emma Wilcox, speaking for TEDxNJIT. Click image to view whole talk.

Gallery Aferro Studio Residents Ken Weathersby and Jacob Mandel as well as resident alum Jerry Gant featured in Artists In The World

Artists In The World

Gallery Aferro brings the Mobile Portrait Studio to Baltimore’s Artscape!

2016 artscape article small

Eric Valosin Blog small

Eric Valosin writes about arts in Newark during Newark Open Doors and gives Gallery Aferro a special highlight! Click the image above to read more!

artcore journal

William Corwin talks with Emma and Evonne as they “wax philosophical about the struggle” Click the image above to watch!



7th Annual Art Auction and Party

June 13th @ Gallery Aferro, 73 Market Street, Newark, NJ

VIP Preview 6pm – 7pm

Auction 7pm – 9:30pm

Afterparty 10pm -?

Regular Ticket: $25 for sale here

VIP Ticket (includes afterparty): $100 for sale here

Tickets for the Party and the afterparty: $35 for sale here*

Guest of Donating Artist Discount Ticket for sale here

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

Gallery Aferro is excited to announce the 7th Annual Benefit Art Auction and Party on June 13th, 2015. This festive event features an exciting auction of hundreds of artworks by emerging and established artists, live music by Emily Turonis and friends, fun activities including interactive performance by Jackie Du and outdoor art selfie stations, strong signature cocktails and endless icy craft beer from Hunterdon Brewery, fine catering, and dozens of wonderful door and raffle prizes including two getaway destination packages!

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 12th, end of day.

keasark_web_graphic_fulltext copy



Emma Wilcox 646 220 3772

Mark Krasovic 973-353-1051

KEA TAWANA’S ARK TO BE REMEMBERED AND CELEBRATED IN UPCOMING NEWARK EXHIBITION: Gallery Aferro and the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience to Draw on Community Memory to Explore Newark’s Legendary Piece of Public Art

In the 1980s, when popular visions of Newark steered many people clear of the city, visitors arrived from around the globe to see Kea Tawana’s Ark, a three-story wooden boat that rose above the Central Ward. Over 2015-2016, Gallery Aferro and the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University – Newark will collect oral history interviews with those who knew the Ark, gather relevant archival and press material, and launch an exhibition and public programming to explore the meaning and significance of this quintessential Newark story. More details about our discoveries, events, and offerings will be announced regularly throughout the next two years.

A self-taught artist and builder, Kea Tawana began collecting materials from abandoned and demolished buildings in the late 1960s. After studying maritime construction manuals, she laid the keel for her boat on an empty lot in 1982. As the Ark slowly rose over the neighborhood, residents, artists, school groups, politicians, and enthusiasts from around the world came to the corner of 14th Avenue and Camden Street to visit. The Ark became an international cause célèbre in 1986, when the new mayoral administration demanded it be torn down as an eyesore and impediment to neighborhood development. After a lengthy legal battle, Kea herself dismantled the Ark and left Newark.

“The Ark became a vessel into which many observers poured their hopes and desires for Newark,” says Dr. Mark Krasovic, associate director of the Price Institute. “For some, it was an embodiment of the grit and spirit that anchored communities in some tough years for American cities. For those invested in new development and the oft-invoked local renaissance, it was the embodiment of a city best left in the past.” The Ark can be seen as the East Coast’s version of the Watts Towers (Oakland) or the Heidelberg Project (Detroit), but it also was wholly unique as art/shelter.

CALL FOR VOICES: The Gallery and Institute seek to capture the complexity of the Ark story and its meanings by interviewing people with memories of it, from those who led the fights for and against it to those who may have just driven by it on their way to work. Anyone wishing to share the own story of the Ark should send a message to or call Mark Krasovic at 973-353-1051

The Ark exhibition at Gallery Aferro is timed to coincide with Newark’s 350th birthday celebrations in 2016. The complicated story it captures will connect to local and national conversations about art, equity, gentrification, and community self-determination. “Thirty years later, the story of the Ark could not be more timely, allowing us to talk as a multigenerational community about land use, agency, beauty, and utility in the built environment. Whether it is the impact of new developments, the sale of vacant lots, or public art commissions, we have so much to think and talk about right now” says Emma Wilcox, co-director of Gallery Aferro.

For more information about Gallery Aferro visit

For more information about the Institute visit

This program is funded by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Discover Jersey Arts People’s Choice Awards


Gallery Aferro has been nominated for Best Art Gallery in NJ for the 2nd year in a row and Newark was nominated for Best Downtown Arts District! Click the image above or here to vote for us and Newark! Voting Ends February 19th so go vote now!!!!

Gallery Aferro and Critical Practices Inc. (CPI)

Newark’s Gallery Aferro and the New York City cultural nonprofit Critical Practices Inc. (CPI) are working together to create a program based on the idea that innovation and creativity are skill sets that may be developed.  The program will explore how   participants’ may acquire higher-order thinking skills through hands-on experience. CPI acknowledges that experiential learning cannot replace knowledge-based learning. However, the group seeks to design projects that will improve the participants’ understanding and ability in applying their knowledge and take constructive action relative to problem formation and resolution.

CPI—which functions as content provider, presenter, orga­nizer, and facilitator—is initiating the Newark Lab (NL) project’s design process by convening small Focus Groups (FG) and larger roundtable discussions (PI-LTR). The project’s initial stage focuses on defining the links between education, pedagogy and creativity. These sessions are planned to interrogate common assumptions about knowledge and inventiveness, while identifying new resources of inspiration and thinking within the Newark community.

This exploration-and-discussion process is intended to accomplish two things: (1) provoke discourse around the issues of education and creativity; (2) arrive at better understanding as to the potential consequences that the type of laboratory program we imagine can and should have. The end result of these discussions will be the formation of a design team consisting of CPI staff, members of the Newark community, and a small group of innovation-and-creativity experts. This team will develop the Lab’s form, content, and pedagogy—and will outline how it is to be implemented.

Through this project, CPI and Gallery Aferro hope to establish in Newark an exemplary model of an incubator of ideas, practices, and possibilities capable of affecting developments in a view of pedagogy education that does not pit the practical against the imaginative manner.


Critical Practice Inc. (CPI) was founded in 2010 to support the emergence and de­velopment of new practices and ideas within the field of critical cultural production. The 501(c) 3 organization aims to create a dynamic network that will contribute to   the shaping of critical discourses and practices. CPI believes that the producers of critical culture are an underserved community whose need for discourse and critical engagement —amongst themselves—has gone unrecognized. To achieve these ends, it is important to us that we build programs and practices that operate beside the norms of the institutional and instrumental perspectives of the marketplace and its apparatuses. Our programs operate neither in opposition to, nor in compliance with, institutional models.

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Gallery Aferro partner for ‘Artist Box’ initiative

Gallery artists will attend NJSO performances at NJPAC, blog about their experiences throughout the season. Project will culminate with Gallery Aferro exhibit in May 2015

NEWARK, NJ (October 8, 2014)—The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Gallery Aferro will partner for Artist Box, a unique initiative that will bring artists from the Newark-based art gallery to NJSO performances in Newark throughout the 2014–15 season and culminate in May with a Gallery Aferro exhibit of works inspired by the artists’ concert experiences.

The NJSO will welcome 10 of Gallery Aferro’s artists to the NJSO’s 2014–15 Friday-night classical series at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark. The artists—Alex Cumming, Andrew Demirijian, Alexandra Desipris, Sophia Domeville, Dominique Duroseau, Jerry Gant, Sheikia S. Norris, Vaughn Spann, Amanda Thackray and Adrienne Wheeler—will share content about their concert experiences on the gallery’s website,, and the NJSO’s website,, throughout the season.

Cumming, an artist and musician in his early 20s who is part of Newark’s local Oculus Art Collaborative, says, “I really want to use this experience to integrate the different parts of the scene: the experience of music and the fine artists.”

Gallery Aferro Director Emma Wilcox says: “It’s going to be so much fun. We are excited to see which great pieces of orchestral music will be inspire the Newark artists. All the artists are especially looking forward to the #OrchestraYou event in March.”

“We are thrilled about our new partnership with Gallery Aferro for Artist Box,” says NJSO President & CEO James Roe. “A vital part of the Orchestra’s mission is collaborating with diverse organizations in Newark, and this project is an exciting way to explore the relationship between musical and visual arts and to engage with audiences and artists in new and thoughtful ways. We are looking forward to seeing the creativity of these talented artists as they respond to our performances this season.”

The NJSO’s five-concert Friday-night series at NJPAC starts on October 10 with the Orchestra’s Opening Night program, Carmina Burana. Other series highlights include”

  • The first performance of the 2015 “Sounds of Shakespeare” Winter Festival features interpretations of Romeo and Juliet by Tchaikovsky, Gounod and Prokofiev and the return of actors from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, who will perform scenes from the Shakespeare tragedy. (Jan 9)
  • Principal Flute Bart Feller solos in Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto. (Feb 27)
  • Pianist Kirill Gerstein performs Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety,” on a program that also includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan”; the NJSO’s second #OrchestraYou follows the performance. (Mar 13)
  • Christoph König returns to conduct a Czech-inspired program of works by Dvořák, Ravel and Dohnányi. (Apr 24)

Full series information is available at


Alex Cumming is a young artist and musician with Oculus Art Collaborative, a collective of recent art-school graduates who regularly create experimental projects throughout the tri-state area. Cumming was raised in Essex County and works across media, including painting, sculpture, film, music and poetry, to explore ascetic and anarchist ideology.

Andrew Demirijian combines computer programming with audiovisual production to create experimental portraits that explore the relationships between psychology and time. Conceptual systems of juxtaposition, categorization and randomness replace conventional narrative arcs and character development. Demirjian draws upon his experience as a musician and filmmaker to produce interactions between sound and image that respond to and shape one another. His most recent work has been developing algorithms for audiovisuals that are inspired by organic systems and adaptive environments. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and galleries including Rush Arts, the White Box gallery, Harvestworks, LMAK Projects, The Roger Smith Hotel and The Center for Book Arts in Manhattan. He has participated in international exhibitions in Belgium, England, Finland, France, Germany, Korea, the Netherlands, Poland and Russia. Demirjian received a 2013 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, fellowship from the MacDowell Colony, Puffin Foundation grant and Artslink grant, and he has been awarded artist residencies at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, LMCC Swing Space, The Clocktower Gallery, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, SUMU, Diapason Gallery and CYLAND Media Art Laboratory.

Alexandra Desipris is a Newark-based artist of Greek descent whose work focuses on deconstructing and examining ritual, religion and ethnicity filtered through her own experience. An intense interest in liminal positions, binaries and our relationship to the unknown drives her work. Her youth spent in Byzantine-style churches is apparent in her limited palate of colors and extensive use of gold and gold leaf throughout her paintings and objects. She was an artist in residence at Gallery Aferro and has shown at various galleries throughout Newark, including the Gateway Project and Solos Project House.

Sophia Domeville is a Haitian-American abstract expressionist painter and a member of the Essential Elements Creative Collective currently in residence at Gallery Aferro. Her passion for giving back to the community includes workshop series taught for youth at Monroe College Bronx campus, Bergen Community College and Safe Space Organization in Queens. This year, Domeville introduced her new 12-week art program, “The Dreamers Project,” a comprehensive program that combines art history, community activism, leadership skills and self-awareness through art. She is currently facilitating “The Dreamers Project” with the I Have a Dream Foundation scholarship program in Newark.

Dominique Duroseau is an emerging artist working across media in sculpture and printmaking. Her work approach bundles questions, by abstracting aspects of our lives through the manifestation of concepts and emotions. She is heavily inspired by two literary works: Jean Paul Sartre’s Huis Clos and Etzer Vilaire’s Dix Hommes Noirs. These writers embody existentialism and provide a direction, yet varied routes or paths emerge. Duroseau avoids literal depictions of gender, race and the use of color; specificity becomes a distraction to hinder insightful observations or our relationship with that which we observe.

Jerry Gant is a multi-disciplined visual fine artist, arts educator, activist and self-driven historian. Gant seeks to create work that reflects the human spirit of the community’s people, while challenging conventional thinking. The Newark native has been a fixture on the arts and culture scene for more than 25 years. He has cultivated projects “outside the cube” to heighten the exposure of a fine art aesthetic in urban communities. Before there was a formal mural arts program in Newark, Gant was developing a repertoire of murals that could be viewed in every ward in the city. In the past decade, he has been commissioned to create permanent public artworks by Verizon, NJ Transit and the Trust for Public Land, with the latter featuring 13 sculptures installed at Nat Turner Park, the largest city-owned park in Newark.

Sheikia S. Norris, lyrically known as Purple Haze or Haze, was born in the birthplace of hip-hop, The Bronx. Currently a Newark resident, Haze challenges audiences with a natural ease and a voice that inspires audience movement and positive thoughts. She is a member of the Essential Elements Creative Collective currently in residence at Gallery Aferro. Enthusiasts of the art form appreciate her energy, impeccable flow and clever deliverance of truth. Haze has mastered her own rich style of spitting lyrics with both power and substance. As the Hip Hop 101 Edutainment Program Facilitator & Recruiter for the Hip Hop Culture Center, a member of the Rhyme Like A Girl Collective (Freestyle Union) and up-and-coming curator for Hip Hop art and performance, Haze is a diversified talent poised for success in a host of arenas. She is recording her EP, “pH Balance,” for a release this year.

Vaughn Spann was born in Orlando, Florida, and raised in Orange, New Jersey. He has used art to develop his own visual language defining his opinion on politics, pop culture and history. Growing up in various urban environments has sharpened his understanding of identity and social discourse, which is reflected within his work. Spann is a BFA candidate at Rutgers State University. His work has been shown at Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Newark Museum, Rupert Ravens Contemporary Gallery, Gallery Aferro and the annual Newark Open Doors.

Amanda Thackray is a New Jersey-based visual artist and Gallery Aferro artist-in-residence whose work focuses on drawings, prints, conceptual artistsʼ books, installations and multimedia experiments. She is a Scholar of Advanced Studies of the Book at the Center for Book Arts in New York and the printmaking shop technician at Princeton University. Her work is most inspired by the human body and its relationship with the natural world. Indulging a deep connection with process and the ephemeral, Thackrayʼs work is highly detailed, often utilizing minute repetitive mark-making techniques or actions. Thackray has attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT, and the Womenʼs Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY, where she garnered a book production grant; she was Printshop Coordinator at Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, WA, in 2012. In addition to showing her work regularly in New York, New Jersey and nationally, she often curates shows and has lectured at the New Jersey Book Arts Symposium, Brown University and Womenʼs Studio Workshop. Thackrayʼs works are in more than a dozen national and international public collections, including those of the Newark Public Library, Yale University and Mediatheque Andre Malraux in Strasbourg, France.

Adrienne Wheeler is an artist, independent curator, arts educator and advocate for social justice. Her art provides a platform for expressing her discontent with injustices, particularly those affecting the lives of women and children. Informed by various Central and West African ancestral and spiritual practices and cultural traditions, she explores the role that these traditions (misunderstood, marginalized and often demonized) have played in resistance to the inhumanity of slavery and other forms of oppression. Her process involves collecting fallen timber with anthropomorphic and sculptural shapes, which when wrapped and bound with fabric or other materials are transformed into healing, guardian and carnival figures, as well as conceptual wall sculptures and site-specific installations.


Gallery Aferro is a Newark-based nonprofit community arts organization founded in 2003 by artists Evonne M. Davis and Emma Wilcox. The gallery has received three consecutive Citations of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and has been described by Inside Jersey as offering “a dizzying array of contemporary art.” Funder Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has praised the gallery’s “expansive vision, impact in Newark as well as regionally and even internationally” and its “exemplary mentoring opportunities for young artists.” The mission of Gallery Aferro is 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. The gallery offers an average of 12 to 15 rotating on- and off-site exhibitions of local, national and international artists annually; an array of events including screenings and artist talks; a year-round artist residency program; an expanding variety of educational offerings; a publication line; a gift shop and a public art initiative. This year, Gallery Aferro is renovating two additional adjacent 19th-century buildings on Market Street, an expansion that when complete will comprise a 90,000-square-foot cultural hub.

The gallery has occupied a leadership role in Newark’s local arts community through its presentations of diverse artist concepts across media; despite being a fairly young organization, it has frequently served as the sole representation for Newark and New Jersey arts within larger national curatorial initiatives, including nationwide screening events in 2009 organized by PPOW gallery in New York and the Marfa Dialogues on Climate Change organized by Ballroom Marfa in Texas with the support of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. A key strength of the gallery is its affinity for collaborations with a wide range of other cultural organizations and nonprofits such as the Newark Museum, Montclair Museum, Print Making Center of New Jersey, Aljira: a Center for Contemporary Art, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art and Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster.


Named “a vital, artistically significant musical organization” by The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra’s superb musicians.

Under the bold leadership of Music Director Jacques Lacombe, the NJSO presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra’s statewide identity.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include the three-ensemble NJSO Youth Orchestras, school-time Concerts for Young People performances and multiple offerings—including the El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project)—that provide and promote in-school instrumental instruction as part of the NJSO Academy. The NJSO’s REACH (Resources for Education and Community Harmony) chamber music program annually brings original programs—designed and performed by NJSO musicians—to a variety of settings, reaching as many as 17,000 people in nearly all of New Jersey’s 21 counties.

For more information about the NJSO, visit or email Tickets are available for purchase by phone 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or on the Orchestra’s website.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors. United is the official airline of the NJSO.


National & NYC Press Representative:

Dan Dutcher, Dan Dutcher Public Relations | 917.566.8413 |


Regional Press Representative:

Victoria McCabe, NJSO Communications and External Affairs | 973.735.1715 |

Gallery Aferro Announces Massive Expansion to Create 90,000 sq Ft Cultural Hub in Downtown Newark!

Newark, NJ – Gallery Aferro in partnership with RBH Group announces the launch of an ambitious expansion project to create a 90,000 square foot arts center on Market Street in downtown Newark. The space at 73-77 Market Street will attract and engage local residents, visitors, artists, students, and others in three adjacent buildings owned by RBH Group. The gallery’s sixth annual benefit art auction and party on June 14, 2014 will support this ambitious community-building effort. Tickets for a fun night of bidding, live jazz, performance art, cocktails and prizes, with exciting afterparty held at 77 Market Street, are on sale now at

Gallery Aferro began in Newark in 2003, and offers exhibitions featuring local, national and international artists, public events, studio residency program, educational offerings, group tours, a publication line, and public art initiatives. The organization’s mission is to integrate cultural education and aesthetic engagement within the context of contemporary issues, and to create an environment where artists can gather and share physical and intellectual resources equally. Donations to the gallery can be made via

Being awarded “Citations of Excellence” from the New Jersey State Arts Council for three consecutive years is partially a result of Aferro’s commitment to innovative and responsive collaborations with museums, artist collectives and social service organizations. Working with collaborative partner organizations, co-founders, artists Evonne M. Davis and Emma Wilcox, have designed the newly expanded Aferro to include dozens of artist studios, new presenting spaces for visual arts, cinema and music, printmaking lab, a photography co-op, classrooms, and flux space for community programming like hackathons, poetry slams and yoga.

Local, national and international artists will select studios of various sizes that are spread out over six floors, at below market rates. Services such as enriched career support and exposure are among the resources Aferro offers with the residency program. A critical mass of artists under one roof will offer youth and the general public numerous exciting opportunities to meet artists and learn about contemporary art practice. Artists interested in studio consideration should email to learn more.

Additional information about Gallery Aferro can be found at and

Stay tuned via email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as the excitement builds.

Activate: Market Street on NBC New York

Jerry Gant and Gallery Aferro Artistic Director Evonne M. Davis were interviewed on live television for NBC 4 New York, spreading news of Newark arts to a broad audience. Watch here:

Call for Submissions: 9th Annual Juried Competition


William Way LGBT Community Center

Juried by Evonne M. Davis

Due April 7, 2014

 For all the details, visit

Panel: Newark Art Past, Present and Future

Sun. April 6, 3-5 pm

1978 Maplewood Arts Center

1978 Springfield Avenue

Maplewood, NJ

Evonne M. Davis will join artists Glady Grauer Barker, Kevin Sampson, Newark Museum Director Steven Kern, author Barbara Kukla for a panel moderated by artist Kevin Darmanie on the recent history of the Newark Art Movement; how it has evolved, its current state and plans for the future. This panel is part of public events organized for Gladys Grauer: Seven Decades Climbing, Reaching, Turning Corners. For information visit

One thought on “News

  1. Pingback: | Claudia McNulty, Artist and Decorative Painte

Comments are closed.