Gallery opening: Lost Innocence: Painting

Gallery Aferro will host Lost Innocence: Paintings on  view February 20, through March 21, 2015. The exhibition features a selection of painting displayed at 85 Markets Street, part of the Activate: Market Street series.

In the exhibition, the artist merges childhood familiarity with the many realities imposed. This collection blurs the barriers between popular fantasy and reality, to invite a wider view of what “is” – celebrating the illusion of life, death and dreams, bringing them together and erasing all boundaries.

It was the NYC streets corners, the barrios, the bodegas, the housing projects, and all the stories that they spawned. Those stories, Saturday morning cartoons and the elements of Hip Hop music that guided this series. All the pieces have an individual story to tell, a lesson to be taken. From “Alpha Male” starring the cartoon character Alf, Alfalfa and others, it’s a play on words and imagery conveying a story about that aggressive male energy. The “ShoeBox Business” blurs the line between innocent sesame street characters and the cocaine business that the Dominicans in Washington Heights dubbed the shoebox business. All these pieces bring color, light and magic to a grim gloomy situation. These paintings are like tombstones for a nostalgic time that has passed.

Do Not Pass Go: Downtown Newark road closures January 26 – 28

Via Newark Downtown District, road closures at downtown intersections will be in place Monday through Wednesday of next week due to construction:

Please be advised that Rutgers Police Department has informed the Newark Downtown District that there will be construction in front of 15 Washington Street on the following dates:

  • Monday, January 26, 2015: Washington Street from 7:00 AM to approximately 4:00 PM.
  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015: This construction will result in a road closure at the intersection of Washington Street and James Street from 4:30 AM to approximately 4:30 PM. Vehicular traffic will be permitted on James Street while Washington Street is closed.
  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015: This  construction will result in a partial road closure on Essex Street (between James Street and the  rear of 15 Washington Street) from 5:30 AM  to approximately 5:30 PM.


Newark creative entrepreneur D’TaRelle Tullis among graduates of Rising Tide Capital’s latest Community Business Academy

Late last week, 146 entrepreneurs — including 56 from Essex County — graduated from Rising Tide Capital’s (RTC) nationally recognized 12-week Community Business Academy (CBA) with a newly-acquired business education, an expanded network, and access to the support and resources they need to start or grow a successful business. In a historic moment in the organization’s 10-year history, the 1,000th entrepreneur graduated from the program, as part of the largest CBA class to-date.

The new RTC entrepreneurs joined an alumni network of 968 CBA graduates across Northern New Jersey in a graduation ceremony held at Saint Peter’s University. Featured speakers included Virginia Bender of Saint Peter’s University, Rising Tide Capital’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees Doug Forrester, cofounders Alex Forrester and Alfa Demmellash as well as representatives from the eight sessions of the CBA. During the ceremony, graduates received a Community Business Academy completion certificate and free membership into the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

Among the graduating class was Newark native D’TaRelle Tullis, who is making a difference in her local community. With a mission to fight childhood obesity and provide affordable dance classes to surrounding communities, Tullis started her mobile dance studio Pitter Patter Feet in 1993. Starting with schools in urban cities like Newark, Maplewood and Irvington—she teaches ballet, hip hop, jazz and tap to youth combining dance with classroom instruction.

“Most families in my hometown lack the funds to offer their children professional dance classes; my business allows me to provide that opportunity. While my parents were unable to afford dance classes while I was growing up, I hope to infuse physical activity into the everyday curriculum to ensure the optimal development of youth,” she said.

With clients ranging from childcare facilities to public schools, Tullis uses her expertise as a New Jersey State approved consultant and trainer in early childhood development to create classes that provide physical and social development. While she started her business 22 years ago, Tullis took the Community Business Academy to gain the business and financial management acumen to sustain her business.

“I been in business for a really long time, however while I enjoyed the artistic side of teaching the dance classes I needed help with actually running the business. The CBA was extremely valuable. I learned that I needed to create a system to my everyday work to ensure I deliver excellent quality services. I also learned a lot about myself and built lasting relationships with my classmates and instructors.”

Since taking the Community Business Academy, Tulis has won $3,000 for Pitter Patter Feet after pitching her business in the Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge.  She says her participation in the CBA gave her the additional boost of confidence needed to present her business and talk about pricing and book keeping. Tullis plans to explore options for creating online classes to expand her reach to more students.

The CBA, offered in locations throughout Hudson and Essex Counties, teaches entrepreneurs business fundamentals including budgeting, marketing, bookkeeping and financing.  Each CBA student receives a full-tuition waiver—covered by Rising Tide Capital’s funding partners—and continued business support through the Business Acceleration Services Program.

See a special screening of Selma on MLK Day for less than $5

Newark’s CityPlex 12 movie theater is offering a special screening of Ava Duvernay’s Selma, a film about the pivotal 1965 march. Hailed for its performances, for underscoring the severe threats braved by marchers, and for elevating civil rights heroes who have heretofore been unsung, the movie is also incredibly timely in the wake of present-day protest movements in the wake of grand juries’ failure to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York.

CityPlex12 is offering the screening at the discounted price of $4.95 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Monday, January 19 at 9AM. See the flyer below for more information about the special screening.


Newark Winterfest schedule through Christmas Day

Here is the latest schedule of events for Newark Winterfest, which kicked off last Monday, December 8. See the dates below for Winterfest events through Christmas.

The holiday festival is across the street from the Prudential Center at Championship Plaza, located at Mulberry Street between Market Street and Edison Place. All festival events take place between 3:00 p.m. and 7 :00p.m.

Tuesday, December 16

  • 3 p.m.: Winterfest Marketplace
  • 5 p.m.: Hypnotist Comedian

Wednesday, December 17

  • 5 p.m.: NJ Devils FanFest

Thursday, December 18

  • 3 p.m. Horse and carriage rides
  • 5 p.m. Holiday Carolers

Friday, December 19

  • 5 p.m.: NJ Devils FanFest

Saturday, December 20

  • 5 p.m.: NJ Devils FanFest

Monday, December 22

  • 3 p.m.: Live music by Christopher Dean Band

Tuesday, December 23

  • 5 p.m.: NJ Devils FanFest

Be sure to tag your #Winterfest photos – perhaps they’ll turn up in our “Best of” recap!


With Indian-infused burger joint, Newark economic development pro builds the type of business he once tried to attract

Check out our Halsey Street story map for more articles and previews in this series, and stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter, and our homepage for updates on new stories.

It’s mid-November in Newark, and Kai Campbell is getting ready to realize a dream: the opening of his and his wife Tamara’s new burger joint on his beloved Halsey Street.

That makes Campbell, a third generation Newarker, just the latest small business owner to launch a venture on Halsey Street, a corridor that, thanks in part to its prime location sandwiched just east of University Heights and west of Broad Street, has become a hub of downtown redevelopment.

“It was always my intent to save where I’m from,” said Campbell in an interview conducted in late October, as he oversaw construction at Burger Walla, the Campbells’ unique burger spot. Burger Walla opened its doors to the public with a soft launch on December 2.

Campbell, 33, is a University of Virginia graduate who has spent much of his post-collegiate life trying to bring big businesses to his hometown. He’s held several economic development jobs with the city, and was also was the former Senior Associate of Real Estate for Brick City Development Corporation. “I’ve met with every major retailer you can think of,” he said of his quest to bring business to the city.

Now he’s bringing business in a different way — by launching one himself. Along with his wife, Campbell also runs, a local website that mainly focuses on positive news stories in and around Newark. They’re a true family about Newark: in addition to publishing about the city and launching a business here, Campbell, his wife, and their toddler and newborn live in town, as well.

One factor that can make it tough to attract businesses to Halsey Street and downtown Newark, Campbell said, is that they see Rutgers and NJIT as commuter schools, and consequently assume the coveted student population does not venture past Washington Street. But Campbell thinks Halsey Street is a good investment, and that he can get students to consistently cross that invisible border. “This is the epicenter of where development can take off,” Campbell said.

Social media users review Burger Walla

Thus Burger Walla, an Indian-influenced burger joint that serves everything from beef burgers and flat grilled hot dogs to shrimp and chicken burgers infused with Indian spices. The restaurant also offers an Indian drink called a “lassi,” akin to a traditional milkshake. “Instead of using ice cream, we’re going to use yogurt,” said Campbell.

Why Indian-inspired fare?

For one, Campbell loves Indian food, and he believes others who haven’t yet tried it will love it too if they give it a chance. “People don’t know that they like Indian food,” he mused. “I think by me putting a twist on burgers, which everybody can recognize, I think they’ll be more receptive to Indian food,” he added.

Campbell said the restaurant’s Indian elements are authentic. “I’ve flown halfway around the world to go to a single Indian restaurant before,” he said. In addition, his wife Tamara Campbell is of Indian descent.

The menu is also infused with a couple tastes of New Jersey and the couple’s beloved Brick City: Best hot dogs, Boylan sodas (Best Provision recently celebrated its 75th anniversary in Newark; Boylan Bottling Company was born in New Jersey over a century ago.)

In addition to offering unique food, the Campbells are also looking to infuse their restaurant with a distinct culture fit for a popular neighborhood hangout spot. Campbell said he hopes Burger Walla’s ambiance will keep college students and other community members coming back. “Every Monday night we’re going to be showing independent films,” he said.  Along with the movie nights, they also plan to offer viewings of sports events, outdoor dining — weather permitting — and live music.

Find Burger Walla on Facebook and Twitter for updates on events, and check their website for the restaurant’s menu and blog.


New Community Corporation opens new on-site health center at Commons Senior

Newark’s most vulnerable residentsseniors and the disabledliving at New Community Corporation will now have increased access to health care services just steps from their own front door.

New Community today marks the grand opening of its on-site health clinic at Commons Senior, 140 South Orange Ave., where more than 230 residents of the building will receive primary care services and ultimately reduce the number of visits to the emergency room.

The 300-square-foot clinic on the first floor will feature two separate roomsfor the doctor and nurseand represents an expansion of New Community’s Visiting Physician Program. The new clinic was funded by a grant from The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, and awarded to New Community in September. The one-year grant of up to $120,527 covers initial start-up costs and some staffing expenses as the new clinic.

New Community operates eight residential buildings for seniors and disabled adults, and the grand opening of a new clinic at Commons Senior represents its fourth such on-site clinic. The other three facilities are located at Orange Senior at 132 William St. in Orange, Associates at 180 South Orange Ave. in Newark, and Manor Senior at 545 Orange St. in Newark. New Community manages more than 1,600 units of low income housing for seniors, disabled adults and families in Newark, Orange and Jersey City.


Military Park gets in on Newark holiday fun with events scheduled for December 16th and 18th

On Tuesday, December 16th at 5 p.m., Military Park will kick off their holiday programming with Christmas caroling featuring Pillar College’s gospel choir and praise dance team. The performances will be followed by beverage and dessert at the college’s student lounge, located directly across the street from the park in the student lounge on the first floor of 60 Park Place.

Then on Thursday, December 18 at 4:30 pm, the park will host its first annual holiday celebration at the park. In lieu of a tree, the park will celebrate the official lighting of the Military Park Sword Garden by Mayor Ras Baraka. The park will also host performances by Newark School of the Arts and Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens, and picture-taking with characters from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.

For more information about Military Park, visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


Haven on Halsey Street: The Newark LGBTQ Center offers safety, support, and services

Check out our Halsey Street story map for more articles and previews in this series, and stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter, and our homepage for updates on new stories. Above: The interior of the Newark LGBTQ Center. Photo: Dorothy Chau

Every Wednesday night at the Newark LGBTQ Support Center at 11 Halsey Street, a group of roughly ten people representing different ages, backgrounds, and life experiences gather together to crochet scarves and ponchos for dialysis patients. As colorful skeins of yarn are transformed into clothing that will give warmth to others, the conversation weaves back and forth, stitching a small, caring group of support for those present.

There’s a young college student at Rutgers-Newark who identifies herself as a lesbian, and has yet to come out to her family and friends. Another woman, who works at the Prudential Center, recently discovered the wonders of online dating — she met another woman online — and after having scheduled her first date with a woman, she wants some advice. A mother of three in her late forties tells a story of coming out as a lesbian, resulting in a divorce from her husband. One of the newest members of the group recently escaped Sierra Leone due to homosexuality being against the law.

The conversation is open and honest. In a predominately heterosexual world where identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender can leave some feeling isolated and lonely, a support group like this is also a lifeline, says Reverend Janyce Jackson Jones, director of the center.

“Many of these people are not yet open about their sexuality, or cannot be open about their sexuality, so I want to give them a space where they can feel safe and truly be who they are,” she said on a recent Wednesday night crocheting session, as she quietly observed the conversation and knitted a multi-hued scarf.

crochet circle

Newbies to the crochet circle can pay $30 for crochet lessons and materials, or bring their own materials and join in if they already know how. Proceeds are used towards maintenance of the Newark LGBTQ center. Photo: Dorothy Chau

In fact, the support center’s mission is “to create and sustain a better quality of life for the LGBTQ Community of Greater Newark, by providing community-driven programs and services,” according to the organization’s website.

The creation of the center was sparked by the stabbing of 15-year old Sakia Gunn in 2003. While waiting for a bus at 10 p.m. with two friends on Market Street, two men approached Gunn for sex. When she told them she was a lesbian, they began beating her. She was ultimately stabbed multiple times with a knife, while her friends got away.

After the murder, Reverend Janyce Jackson Jones, who was one of the founding members of an AIDS/HIV awareness center known as the Liberation In Truth Social Justice Center (LITSJC), began pushing for the creation of the LGBTQ Center. After ten years, she had finally gathered enough donations and support, and the center opened its doors to the general public in October 2013.

Not only is Jones responsible for managing the Newark LGBTQ Support Center, but she also is a reverend of the nondenominational Unity Fellowship Church. Masses are held every Sunday at 21 Rector Street.

It’s been over a year since the transformation of the support center started, and the renovations continue. Floors have been replaced and the walls have been painted a friendly purple. All of the workers at the center are volunteers who dedicate their own time to improve the center and the lives of those around them.

Previously, LITSJC provided services for the people of Newark that included free testing and education regarding HIV/AIDS. The revolutionized Newark LGBTQ Support Center provides a much broader suite of services that address a wider spectrum of individual needs and interests and also help to unify the community, from hobbies, fitness, and social events to health and emotional support. Aside from the weekly crochet and knitting group, the center also hosts creative writing workshops, yoga on Thursdays, movie nights, drumming circles, and life lesson workshops for adolescents. On Thursdays, the center feeds meals to the homeless, an event known as God’s Love We Deliver.

As the LGBTQ Support Center grows, more support and funding will be required to maintain the center. According to Jackson, “the yearly budget for the center is $154,000. This is a very lean budget that only includes salary for two part-time staff, and the overhead costs include rent, maintenance, utilities and running projects.”

Future projects include setting up tables on nearby college campuses to spread the word about the center and to promote LGBTQ awareness, and collaborating with other organizations that advocate for safe sex and HIV/AIDS awareness.

Ultimately, Reverend Jackson wants to put the community and its members first. “I want to make the center a hub with many different services, but what’s most important is that we make a safe space that allows people to feel comfortable and be open with themselves,” she says.

Find the Newark LGBTQ Center on Facebook and Twitter.


Sunday concert series at Newark Museum will celebrate holiday traditions

An upcoming Sunday afternoon concert series welcomes the community to celebrate their holiday traditions at the Newark Museum. Tours of the Ballantine House, which will be decorated for the holidays, and related activities for families will be offered on weekends, incorporating cultural traditions from around the world, planetarium shows, and hands-on workshops that explore the Museum’s art and science collections.

The concerts, which begin at 3 pm,  are free with suggested museum admission. The schedule is as follows:

December 7: The Newark Boys Chorus

Known as Newark’s “musical ambassadors”, the chorus will perform a diversified repertoire that includes traditional holiday music, spirituals, folk music and jazz.

December 14: The Yuletide Carolers

Nothing captures the magic of the season like the glorious harmonies of The Yuletide Carolers.

December 21: Kol Dodi, the Community Chorale of NJ MetroWest

Celebrate Hanukkah with a performance by Kol Dodi’s 60-voice ensemble as they carry on the historic tradition of Jewish choral music from Israel, America, Europe and beyond, sung in Hebrew, English, Yiddish and Ladino.

December 28, 2014: Share the Kwanzaa Spirit with the Seventh Principle

The Seventh Principle invites everyone to share in the spirit of Kwanzaa as they celebrate African-American values, traditions, community and history through music and dance.

The Newark Museum is located at 49 Washington Street. | Hours: Monday & Tuesday, CLOSED; Wednesday through Sunday, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Follow the Newark Museum on Facebook and Twitter.