#GiveNewark: Volunteers needed to support a greener, healthier Newark

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a farmer? Thinking about sowing some seeds when the weather warms up? There are lots of volunteer opportunities at Greater Newark Conservancy’s Hawthorne Hawks Healthy Harvest Farm, Court Street Farm, Outdoor Learning Center on Prince Street, plus community and school gardens citywide. No experience is necessary and individuals or groups aged 12 and older are invited to pitch in with chores like planting, weeding, harvesting and more.

For example, open volunteer days are typically held the fourth Saturday of each month at the farm on Hawthorne Avenue in the City’s South Ward starting in March and running through October (March 28, April 25, May 30, June 27, July 25, August 22, September 26 and October 24.) The schedule runs from 10:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m., and volunteers are welcome to work for part of the day or the entire day.

“Volunteering together is an excellent way to build teams, trust, learn something new or just have fun,” noted Robin Dougherty, the Conservancy’s Executive Director. “Volunteers also earn the satisfaction of helping to grow and harvest delicious and nutritious food right here in Newark and help make the city a greener and healthier place.”

The Conservancy has already started booking volunteer groups for spring. Please email mrobinson@citybloom.org if you’d like to schedule a day to volunteer individually or with your co-workers for a corporate day of service, social group, friends, or family or if you need more information. Whether it’s five people or fifty five, the Conservancy can use your help! For open volunteer days, groups of ten or more are asked to call ahead.  

For more information about Greater Newark Conservancy’s programs and services, or to make a donation, call 973.642.4646 or visit www.citybloom.org. You can also follow news from the Conservancy through social media at Facebook.com/GreaterNewarkConservancy and Twitter at @Citybloom87.

Art review: ‘Pebble Drinkers’ exhibition is easy to swallow

Entering “The Pebble Drinkers” is akin to being immersed in a three-dimensional Rorschach Test. This group show at Gallery Aferro is comprised of work replete with symbols and associations that tell us much about the artists’ experiences and beliefs, while simultaneously eliciting psychological responses from the viewer. The exhibition encompasses a range of media and narratives. Each artist employs their own clearly developed lexicon that expresses different concerns manifested in a rich array of visuals. The glue that holds this exhibition together is the application of these artistic vocabularies, bridging the gap between the wildly divergent media and themes.

Stephanie Williams’ “Ernie’s Self-Edit” is an amalgam of sewn forms arranged over a wooden armature. This loosely defined figure seems disemboweled; spilling an assemblage of cascading textiles resembling intestines, female reproductive organs and sausage links. The macabre sentiment is offset by the bright color palette and ornamental stitching that heightens the tension between allure and disgust. Williams’ goal is to make reflective objects that are collections of ideas and senses born of her own experience, while leaving room for the viewer to insert their own.


Corwin Levi’s stream of consciousness mixed media pieces on panel read like schematic drawings. They are concomitantly maps, medical diagrams or molecular charts. Densely overlaid with text and image, they provide a hazy, hypnagogic terrain for viewers to unravel. The modest scale beseeches earnest looking and thus implicates viewers in the act of deciphering the clues held within their nebulous confines. The density of imagery and text is deftly offset by the simple elegance of the black lines set atop a mostly neutral ground.

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A.V. Ryan’s Gravitas series of sculptures provides a respite from the busy quality of Willams and Levi’s work, but are no less effective in eliciting a strong emotional response. These elegant white forms, set atop pedestals, draw upon long-standing traditions of sculpture with allusions to the body and draperies. Approximating the sensual Modernist figures of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, upon closer inspection these bodies melt into deflated abstraction. This push-pull of absence and presence is haunting and seductive.

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“The Pebble Drinkers” provides much sustenance for the psyche, nourishing it with a plenitude of ideas, symbols and experiences. In this Freudian landscape of objects swirling throughout Gallery Aferro, viewers may come away with varied meanings, but according to Stephanie Williams, the artists are working not only with their personal experiences, but also those of the viewer. She noted, “We are the result of a collection of experiences.” These wide-ranging expressions of experience leave plenty of psychological ground for audiences to navigate. Indeed, the main strength of the show is that it solicits viewer input of the content, rather than demanding passive receipt, to make this show function poignantly and effectively.

Jeanne Brasile is an independent curator and artist. She is currently the Director of Seton Hall University’s Walsh Gallery and teaches in the university’s Graduate Program of Museum Professions. She can be contacted at jeanne@jeannebrasile.com.

The Pebble Drinkers is on view at Gallery Aferro through March 28th. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, noon to 6pm. There will be a closing reception coinciding with the gallery’s twice-annual open studios and resident artist talks. For more information contact: info@aferro.org

Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center this Mother’s Day Weekend

The McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center Saturday, May 9, 2015. Produced and directed by Emmy Award-winning Producer A. Curtis Farrow, Gospelfest is a talent competition and concert that features the wide-ranging abilities of its performers.

Kicking off at 3 p.m., the competition includes rising stars competing in a variety of categories, including Soloists, Youth Choirs, Adult Choirs, Praise Dancers, Steppers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. Previous Gospelfest participants have gone on to successful careers in entertainment, including the Bishop Hezekiah Walker.

Walker will perform at the gospel concert that begins at at 6 p.m., along with other top choirs and performers including Ricky Dillard, Bishop Hezekiah Walker & LFC, Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Mississippi Mass Choir,  Cissy Houston, The Clark Sisters, and a special performance by Faith Evans.

Tickets to Gospelfest are on sale now and can be purchased at Prudential Center’s Box Office or via Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com.