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, the City of Newark Committee on Arts, Culture, Tourism and Heritage as well as a former co-chair of the City of Newark Public Art Committee. She currently serves as a trustee with the Greater Newark Convention and Vistor’s Bureau and on the Arts Pride Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
She was 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, and was selected to be part of the Institute’s Cultural and Ethnic Arts Executive Leadership (CEA) Program as one of 16 nationwide participants.
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, or our ongoing project about Newark’s Kea Tawana and her ark, a large-scale community oral history project in collaboration with the Price Institute for Ethnicity, Race and the Modern Experience, Rutgers-Newark. 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. Her TedX talk about art, audience, community, power dynamics, resistance, and the “strange and enduring power of arts experiences” such as the Aferro Mobile Portrait Studio can be viewed here
Candace Nicholson, Gallery Manager
Candace is a self-described organizational egghead by day and a cultural aficionado by night. Plying her trade in the written word, she uses her 20 years of experience in publishing and marketing to sing the praises of artists and help those who feel ordinary connect with the extraordinary.
Originally hailing from the Midwest, Candace listened to Horace Greeley and took her passion for journalism and moved west in 2004. And when the recession hit, like Greeley, she moved back east. This time, to the East Coast, finally settling in the city of Newark, where her love and obsession with the arts continues to flourish.
Although not a practicing visual artist, Candace’s commitment to connection through creative expression has led her to a host of unique opportunities that leave her well-suited for the role of Gallery Manager at Gallery Aferro. Whether writing about the arts from coast to coast; working on projects with independent creatives in the world of music, theater and fine arts; or helping nonprofits and charities promote their causes and community efforts through engaging marketing campaigns, Candace enjoys melding left-brain methodology with right-brain visionary pursuits.
She joins Gallery Aferro to facilitate the role of supporting the arts, artist-led spaces and nonprofit organizations. With a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a concentration in Communications, she has created content for a variety of print and online publications including Sky Blue Window, Robb Report Luxury Home, The Firemen’s Grapevine, LA2Day.com, IndyConcerts.com, Small Business Bonfire, TheBalance.com, Destination Newark, The Core and Blast FM radio in the U.K. A lifelong student of history, the arts and community engagement, Candace is proud to be a part of Gallery Aferro as they continue to grow in Newark.
Juno Zago, Gallery Registrar/Art Shop Manager
Juno Zago is a queer Brazilian visual artist working out of Newark, NJ. Born in Brazil, Zago came to the US in 2005 where he’s since lived in and around in Newark.
Since starting at Gallery Aferro in 2017 he wears various hats, though most effectively that of registrar, followed by gift shop manager as well as art handler and framer, with some added exhibition design responsibilities for good measure. Since graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2016 with a BA in Visual Arts with concentrations in Drawing and Painting, and Art History, Zago has curated for Newark Open Doors: Citywide Arts Festival, worked as a gallery assistant at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary, and as artist assistant to Dread Scott in Brooklyn, NY.
Zago strives for quality in his work, and hopes to continuously grow in his abilities as an artist, registrar, and framer and to further engage with the Newark arts community in meaningful ways. Zago currently also works as an artist assistant, both administrative and studio-based, for artists in NY and NJ. He is so happy to engage with the Newark arts community and hopes to achieve great personal success as a visual artist.
Jo-El Lopez, Guest 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 nontraditional arts settings. In addition to his work with Gallery Aferro’s Activate: Market Street, 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 independent 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 he has multiple works a part of The Newark Museum of Art’s Permanent collection.
Gallery Aferro’s Board of Directors
Jorge Santos, Alicia Lucas, Emily Manz, Gwen Charles, Evonne M. Davis and Emma Wilcox
We gratefully acknowledge the support of our funders, sponsors and the individual donors who make our programs possible.
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation