Scene: Co-Creating in Newark at Co-Lab Open Mic

Work by Newark artists line the exposed brick walls of Seed Gallery, located on the third floor of a Market Street walk-up downtown Newark.

But Seed doesn’t just showcase the work of Newark’s visual artists. At 8 p.m. every Tuesday night, Newark-area singers, instrumentalists, spoken word artists and rappers trudge up the gallery’s steep and narrow stairs, some with instruments in tow, to participate in Co-Lab, an event that is parts open mic, art show, and concert.

seed gallery tableau

Above: A sampling of Co-Lab’s weekly flyers

Seed Gallery founder Gizem Bacaz describes the weekly event as “a fusion of different vibes, all created by chance.” Since the gallery’s inception in 2007, Bacaz and her team have used the space to encourage local artists of all genres to showcase their work. Co-Lab is a weekly manifestation of Seed’s mission.

“Seed is not your cookie-cutter art gallery,” said 33 year-old Bacaz before last week’s open mic. “It’s more involved, and there’s more life to it.”

In addition to their gallery setting, the key appeal of the Co-Lab open mics is that audience members and performers can’t predict how the evening will take shape. Instead, both parties co-create the show as it goes along.

This particular night, dim lights and the seductive sounds of R&B set the tone for the evening as performers take the stage. The mix was eclectic: soulful musings about natural hair in one performance; stories culled from the streets of Newark and reenacted on stage in rap form in another.

“What happens at Co-Lab is the turning of your life into art. That’s really what it’s all about,” said Bacaz.

Co-Lab is intended as a safe space where the line between art and life is blurred and where artists find themselves dissecting history, politics and society in the name of performance. According to Bacaz, this differentiates Co-Lab from any other open mic on the scene.

“Co-Lab isn’t just an open mic, it’s a full fledged experience,” Bacaz concluded.

Relax and refresh at Military Park this weekend at the first Urban Stress Less Festival

City life can be stressful, but the Newark Collective is offering a day out for women and families to unwind, reduce stress and improve their health. The first Urban Stress Less Fest will be held this Saturday, August 29 at Military Park from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“The Urban Stress Less Festival is a celebration of life designed to bring awareness to women about the causes of urban stress, and how it affects our health and well being,”  said Camille Ferguson, Newark resident and founder of the Newark Collective, who is completing her PhD in the study of urban stress at Rutgers University in Newark. The Newark Collective is an informal collection of women scholar community activists.

Programs at the festival include a vision board workshop, fitness demonstrations by the Newark Yoga Movement and Move it Nation, activities for kids such as the Montclair Art Museum Art Truck, music and more.

Those who can’t make the Urban Stress Less Fest can still get their share of relaxation in the park this weekend. “Sweet Peace Yoga” with certified yoga instructor Fayemi Shakur will be held on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Children’s Garden. “Gentle Yoga on Sundays” will be held the following day at 1:30 p.m. with Leslie Banger.

In the meantime, the Urban Stress Festival is recommending a “Five Star Approach” for mitigating the effect of stress.

  • Being mindful.
  • Paying attention to our mental,emotional and physical health and being.
  • Maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends and others.
  • Paying attention to our resource stability, such as occupation, finances and credit.
  • Achieving a work-life balance.

Military Park is located at 920 Broad Street in Newark, and it offers daily activities , classes, free Wi-Fi, and entertainment facilities. For more information on park activities, visit the park’s website.

Featured image courtesy of Newark Yoga Movement. 

Sample organic food grown by local urban farmers at Harvest to Table Fest this week

Organic food lovers will have a chance to taste locally grown produce, chat with urban farmers and enjoy the goods at Harvest Table, a daytime healthy cafe in Newark, from August 24 to August 28. 

Harvest Table owner Carissa Borraggine has partnered with Tobias A. Fox, the founder of Newark Science and Sustainability Inc. to bring patrons to the restaurant to sample organic food, and learn why buying from local farmers will help both their personal health and community pride. 

The event is called “Harvest to Table Fest” and Newark SAS hopes it will boost the trend of buying local by putting a spotlight on local growers. 

“It is our goal to create a local green economy and organizing events like this is definitely leading us in that direction,” Fox said. 

“This event is important because many local residents don’t even realize that they have access to fresh, organic produce right in their own neighborhood,” Borraggine said. “These growers are doing wonderful things for the community, and we want to support them.”

Harvest Table is located at 127 Halsey Street in downtown Newark and is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The cafe normally offers a collection of healthy sandwiches, salads, coffee and smoothies. 

For more information you can contact Fox at 646-399-0337 or email glocal@sasglocal.com.

Featured image courtesy of Newark Science and Sustainability Inc. 

Newark Museum Second Sunday program continues on January 10

The Newark Museum Second Sunday program features lectures, performances, tours, art and science demonstrations and workshops, music, and a special brunch menu. The day runs from noon to 5 pm and all events are free with admission unless otherwise noted.

The January 10 event will celebrate the holidays and the exhibitions The Shape of Light: Gabriel Dawe, Outside the Lines: Color Across the Collections and Chromatics: Minimalism and Color Field Experiments.

Program highlights include:

  • Brunch, catered by David Ellis Events and entertainment provided by NJPAC Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens Ensemble, noon – 2 pm. Reservations are required; admission is $19.75 for full buffet brunch and $9.75 for continental breakfast. For tickets, call 973.596.6553.
  • Artist demonstration with Judy Langille, 12:30-1:30 pm and 2-3:30 pm Nationally-acclaimed fiber artist and arts educator, Judy Langille showcases her process in creating quilts, often layering color, shape and texture using hand-dyed fabrics. Along with her students, she invites visitors to explore and experiment with stitching techniques
  • Creative Play children’s activities, 1, 2, & 3 pm. Children will explore the lines and color of the quilts in our collection and create a mini-quilt to take home.
  • Newark Museum through the Eyes of Gallery Aferro Artists: Kenseth Armstead, 2pm, Kenseth Armstead, who has exhibited his videos and multi-media installations worldwide, finds works that inspire, intrigue and resonate with his artistic process.
  • Performance by New Jersey Symphony Chamber Orchestra, 3 pm. Be swept off your feet with a special performance by the New Jersey Symphony Chamber Orchestra.  Mozart, Beethoven, Dvořák and Ravel transport you to Austria of the 18th- and 19th- centuries, America in the late 19th- century, and Paris at the turn of the 20th-century.
  • Conversation with Artist Michael James, 4 pm. Michael James, one of America’s most highly acclaimed contemporary art quilters and Newark Museum Chief Curator and Curator of Decorative Arts,Ulysses Dietz discuss James’s creative process, innovative use of materials and the impact of new technologies on contemporary quilt making.

For further information, visit www.newarkmuseum.org.