Evonne M. Davis, Artistic Director
Evonne is a working artist, as well as the co-founder and Artistic Director of Gallery Aferro and formerly Gallery/Education Director at City Without Walls, both in Newark, NJ. Originally from the Woodstock, NY area, she studied at School of Visual Arts and Cornell University.
Her current practice involves sculptural installations and experimental video. Her work deals with labor, systems, class, language, and the juxtapositions present in everyday life. Her work is informed by a deep love of modern and contemporary poetry, and an insatiable curiosity about human nature. She has exhibited at venues such as the Krampf Gallery, NYC, Theater for the New City in NYC, Walsh Gallery in Orange NJ, Prtizker Gallery in Poughkeepsie, NY, College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, NY, Alley Culture in Detroit, MI, and countless other galleries and alternative spaces nationwide.
Evonne has curated independent and affiliated exhibitions for the past 14 years in innovative as well as traditional settings, including a vacant lot in Coney Island and the back of a 1978 Volvo. Her goal is connect any willing audience with cultural experience.. Other locations include The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Valley Arts, Ironworks Gallery, Brooklyn Borough Hall, Studio 411, Red Saw Gallery, Arts Guild of New Jersey, Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster, NJ, Print Making Center of NJ, Seton Hall University, and 207 Gallery, among many others. Her 2002 exhibition, Nostalgia and Decay, which originated in Coney Island, Brooklyn was moved to Borough Hall at the invitation of the Brooklyn Borough President. This exhibition focused on the ways that artists and residents were inspired by the now-demolished Thunderbolt Rollercoaster, a functional ride that also the caretaker’s family home. Other relevant community-led history work includes videography for WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, the major 2007 exhibition on feminist art and activism 1965-80. Evonne worked on interviews for the NYC-based artists, recording their testimonies.
Evonne has facilitated partnerships with Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark Arts Council, The Polish Cultural Institute, Brick City Development Corporation, Camera Club of New York, The Newark Museum, The Montclair Museum and many others.
She has worked with youth in a variety of contexts including creative writing for at-risk youth at the NYC LGBT Youth Center – The Zone, attendance counseling for the NYC BOE, and as a mentor in City Without Wall’s Artreach Program. She was a member of the Arts High School Advisory Committee, and the NPS AV Committee, and is currently a member of the City of Newark Committee on Arts, Culture, Tourism and Heritage as well as co-chair of the City of Newark Public Art Committee.
Currently, she is also one of 14 senior executives from New Jersey nonprofit organizations selected to participate in the Prudential Foundation Nonprofit Executive Fellows Program at the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School.
Emma Wilcox, Gallery Director
Emma is a working artist and writer as well as the co-founder of Gallery Aferro. Over the past decade, she has worked with co-founder Evonne M. Davis to develop hundreds of exhibitions, residencies, education programs, public art initiatives, as well as 22 publications. Many of these efforts have been highly collaborative in nature, involving other nonprofits and collectives, such as our 2012 digital animation “remixes” by Newark youth of Newark Museum collection artworks, or our 2013 project, Jan Sawka 1946-2012: Reflections on Everyman, which focused on the life and work on Polish exile, artist and activist Jan Sawka, including Sawka’s support of the Solidarity movement. Wilcox maintains an artistic and curatorial interest in history, including the history of artist communities, as well as Newark’s overall history.
As a photographer she is concerned with environmental justice, land usage, eminent domain, and the role of individual memory in the creation of local history. Solo exhibitions: Where it Falls, The Print Center, Philadelphia, PA and William Patterson University Galleries, Wayne, NJ, 2012, Emma Wilcox, 2010 at Gitterman Gallery, New York, NY, Salvage Rights, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT, 2009 and Forensic Landscapes, Jersey City Museum, 2007. She is the recipient of a Harpo Foundation Grant for Where It Falls, a NoMAA Creative Grant, a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship for photography, the Camera Club of NY residency, the Newark Museum Residency and was a core participant in Night School at the New Museum in 2008. She was featured on Women in Photography, the New Yorker, American Suburb X, and Black and White Magazine, was reviewed in Art In America, and has written for Bomb Magazine, Zing Magazine, and Influence. She regularly leads gallery tours for all ages at Gallery Aferro, and is a frequent guest speaker for a variety of universities and other organizations including the NJ Historical Society.
Jacob Mandel, Gallery Manager
Jacob Mandel was born in December 1990. He graduated with honors from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2012 receiving a BFA in Photography and a minor degree in Art History. Since graduating he has planted himself in the Newark arts community and currently works as Gallery Manager at Gallery Aferro in Downtown Newark. Jacob is the co-founder and Administrative Director of Collaborate Audio Lab, a Newark-based music and arts organization producing and collaborating on community-oriented creative content. He also has partnered with other local non-profits like Oculus Art Collaborative to produce exhibitions and events. As a curator, Jacob has done projects for Newark Open Doors, major group and solo exhibitions in Gallery Aferro’s main gallery, and exhibitions outside of Newark including at the Arts Guild of New Jersey in Rahway, NJ. In 2013 Mandel was awarded a scholarship as a mentee of Evonne Davis to attend the Nonprofit Emerging Leaders Certificate Program at The Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School. In 2016 he was nominated for an Ubuntu Award at Newark’s 30 under 30 hosted by Them Cloud Kids. His work in a growing art community like Newark’s has shown him that collaboration, self motivating, and idea sharing are crucial to one’s professional and creative success.
Juno Zago, Gallery Registrar/Art Shop Manager
Juno Zago is a visual artist and registrar at Gallery Aferro in Newark, NJ. Since completing his undergrad program at Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2016 he’s worked throughout Newark with institutions such as Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, and curated for Newark Open Doors: Citywide Arts Festival. As of 2017 he handles a good deal of registrar, art inventory and social media presence duties at Gallery Aferro. Furthermore he is the acting manager of Gallery Aferro’s Art Shop.
Zago also works as an artist assistant, both administrative and studio-based for artists in Brooklyn, NY and West Orange, NJ. He is happy to engage with the Newark arts community and hopes to achieve great personal success as a visual artist.
Jo-El Lopez, Activate: Market Street Curator
Visual artist, arts advocate, and Curator. Jo-El has curated independent and affiliated exhibitions since 2010. His goal is to connect the urban audience with cultural experience in untraditional arts settings. He is the curator at Newarks’ Gallery Aferro, Activate: Market Street, which has received critical acclaim. Activate: Market Street is a yearlong exhibition that displays installations and two dimensional art in store windows at one of the busiest streets is Newark, NJ.
Some other shows include: The Store Front Gates Project and several murals and pop up shows for the City of Newark and Yendor Arts, several shows for Gallery Aferro, Newark Open Doors, Paterson Art Walk, Paterson Great Falls Festival, Newark Artfront Galleries, and Hoboken Diggable Arts Festival as well as other independence projects.
Originally from the Paterson, NJ area, he studied at Kean and Montclair State Universities. He has exhibited his works throughout the NY Metropolitan and Caribbean areas and his work is part of Newark Museum Permanent collection.
Gallery Aferro’s Board of Directors
Jonathan Starzyk: President
Eva DeAngelis: Secretary
Rafael Roman: Treasurer
Evonne M. Davis
We gratefully acknowledge the support of our funders, sponsors and the individual donors who make our programs possible.
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
The New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the national endowment for the Humanities
The New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts