The Ironbound offers its Newark Celebration 350 ideas in the first of a series of ward-by-ward meetings

Newark Celebration 350 kicked off its series of ward-by-ward community meetings yesterday at the Ironbound Community Corporation.

During the meeting, which was attended by about thirty people, Newark Celebration 350 chair Junius Williams laid out the celebration’s premise for attendees, and opened the floor for their input for 2016’s yearlong celebration. The celebration committee, he said, is also open to event and programming proposals, and will even help fund a select number of initiatives. Celebration director John Johnson, vice chair John Schrieber, who is also president of NJPAC, councilman Augusto Amadour, and several officials from the Ironbound Community Corporation were also in attendance.

Williams laid out some of the ideas already in the pipeline, including a “walk to the river” to underscore the importance of the Passaic River to the city’s founding, and a Newark Celebration 350-themed curriculum for Newark students.

By dint of its East Ward location, the community meeting saw significant representation from the city’s Brazilian, Ecuadorian, and Portuguese communities. One key consensus was that an emphasis on immigrant stories — and on Newark’s rich diversity — should be highlighted during the celebration. Another: that more intentional outreach will be needed to bring non-English speaking and undocumented community members into the fold. A third attendee suggested highlighting the Ecuadorian community as a newer immigrant group to the city, and exploring the factors that drew them to Newark.

Attendees also posited diverse event and programming ideas, from a 5 kilometer run to a citywide beautification project. Drew Curtis, Community Development and Environmental Justice Director at ICC, suggested throwing a series of “underpass parties” as way to “bridge the gap” between the East Ward and the rest of the city, which are cut off from each other by a long stretch of train tracks.

Frankie Adao, a lifelong Ironbound resident, was present at the meeting.

“I suggested a restaurant week,” said Adao, who is a chef. “They work well to bring in people from outside, as well as bring the community together. The Ironbound is known for its fantabulous restaurants, and we have other great restaurants and eateries all over the city.”

Adao also suggested an “Ironbound Cup,” an homage to the heavy soccer culture in the East Ward. “We have a bunch of soccer leagues. We have these great soccer fields. Just like the World Cup goes from stadium to stadium, that would be a great way for the community to go out and see the parks.”

As a follow up to the meeting, some members volunteered to serve on an East Ward Newark 350 Celebration committee, which would liase between the community and the umbrella organization. Adao said they expect to hold their inaugural meeting within the next two weeks.

In all, Adao said he thought the meeting succeeded at bringing the community into the fold. “To be able to be part of something like this is exciting. It’s a really big deal that the city is doing something of this magnitude,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how the community bands together.”

Upcoming community meetings

  • West Ward: Thursday, October 1, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., U.V.S.O. Teen Center (40 Richelieu Terrace)
  • Central Ward: Monday, October 5, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Abyssinian Baptist Church (224 West Kinney Street)
  • South Ward: Tuesday, October 6, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Donald K. Tucker Center (27 Elizabeth Avenue)
  • North Ward: Wednesday, October 7, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Third Presbyterian Church (395 Ridge Street)

See here to view the RFP and submit a proposal for Newark Celebration 350 event. See here to view the RFP and submit a proposal for a Newark Celebration 350 public discussion.

Igor Alves contributed reporting for this story.

TEDX NJIT event focused on urban renewal using existing community resources

Newark Museum exhibition to showcase world-class holdings of Islamic art

Decorated Wall Hanging; Egypt, early 20th century; Cotton; Newark Museum Purchase, 1929

Decorated Wall Hanging; Egypt, early 20th century; Cotton; Newark Museum Purchase, 1929

Bringing together both historic and contemporary objects from its diverse collections — Asian, African, American and the decorative arts of Europe — the Newark Museum’s winter 2016 feature exhibition will showcase the history and breath of Islamic art.

More than 100 works on display in Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place reflect aspects of faith, culture and everyday life of Muslims across the world and throughout the ages. The exhibition, which is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, opens February 12 and runs through May 15, 2016.

The Wondrous Worlds features works in nearly all media, including carpets, costumes, jewelry, ceramics, glassware, metalworks, prints, paintings and photographs. Contemporary works from artists such as Rachid Koraichi and Victor Ekpuk, and modern day calligraphy by Hassan Massoudy, will be shown with pieces dating back to the 9th century.

Highlights range from lustrewares of Iran and Spain to delicate prayer rugs from Turkey and India, as well as Harem #1 from the bi-national Moroccan-American photographer Lalla Essaydi, and a pair of early 20th century Egyptian applique tent hangings—measuring 10 feet high and 6 feet wide—that were acquired in Egypt in 1929 by John Cotton Dana, the Newark Museum’s founding director and museum education pioneer.

“John Cotton Dana focused on making relevant connections between objects and people’s lives, while providing inspiration to artists, artisans and makers across disciplines,” said Steven Kern, museum director and CEO. “Through this exhibition, our audiences will gain a more nuanced understanding and appreciation for Islamic art along with other multi-cultural art forms they may encounter in the future.”

The exhibition opens with a world map populated with select items that demonstrate the intercontinental reach of the Dar al-Islam, or Islamic World, which touches all continents except Antarctica.

“Most Islamic art exhibitions focus on works from the Middle East, North Africa or South Asia, but this exhibition includes a much larger scope. We will showcase works from Southeast Asia, the Americas as well as East and West Africa,” said Dr. Katherine Anne Paul, curator of the Arts of Asia and lead curator of the exhibition. Kimberli Gant, Arts of Global Africa Mellon Foundation Curatorial Fellow, an assistant curator on the exhibition, as well as curators from other departments have all worked together to expand the scope of the project geographically and materially.

Wondrous Worlds opens with an introduction to the Five Pillars of Islam — declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, fasting for Ramadan and the Hajj pilgrimage — to provide both context and a distinctive view into the function, artistry and cultural histories of the objects. The exhibition then expands upon five themes.

Internationalisms—Then and Now highlights the long history of inter-continental trade and the role that the Hajj pilgrimage plays in promoting international interconnections. The trade of Turkish textiles to Morocco, English and Dutch textiles inspired by Indonesian prints that were exported to Africa, as well as a ceramics traded between China, Iran and Turkey are featured in this section.

Quran, Calligraphy and Book Arts delves into the power of the written word, not only through the Quran, but also through histories and poetry written in diverse scripts representing different languages including Arabic, Farsi, Nsibidi, Turkish, and Urdu.

Hospitality: Fasting, Feasting and Fun, celebrates the domesticated arts. A mise-en-scene installation of a Moroccan feast will showcase a Rabat carpet, leather cushions, wooden screen and metal table settings. Ceramics, paintings and musical instruments from other regions will also be highlighted.

Architecture and Its’ Offspring, glories in architectural legacies displayed in carpets, printed textiles, furniture, tile-works, and historic and contemporary photographs of India and Morocco.

Body Beautiful: Costumes, Fashion and Faith positions silk, velvet and sequined costumes and textiles alongside fabulous jewelry fashioned from diamonds, pearls, emeralds, jade, gold and silver.

For additional information, follow the Newark Museum on Facebook at or Twitter; or by visiting

Featured image: Decorated Wall Hanging; Egypt, early 20th century; Cotton; Newark Museum Purchase, 1929  29.1470

Something for everyone at the Newark Celebration 350 kickoff in Military Park

Traveler’s Newark: New Jersey History Society Walking Tours

The New Jersey Historical Society walking tours are a mini history lesson packed in a lunch break slot. In partnership with Military Park, NJHS offers midday tours around the park while giving the attendees a lesson of the park’s history.

“The history of the park goes all the way back to the 1600’s, so the tours cover the history of the park. The tours also talk about the buildings surrounding the park and the history of the city,” said Steve Tettamanti, executive director of the Historical Society.

Maribel Jusion-Iturralde, the Historical Society’s director of education and a 17-year alum of the institution, conducts the walking tours. Along with the physical scenery of the park, Jusion-Iturralde provides accompanying material such as vintage post cards and newspaper clippings, to give visitors an idea of what life was like decades earlier. Tour attendees range from students to families to business professionals.

“The best part of the tour is when you see the eyes of the tourists open up when you tell them some history about the park or the city,” said Jusion-Iturralde.

“You know that they’re participating and they’re excited and they get it,” she continued.

The idea of object-based and interactive teaching is one that the society employs in all their educational programs, both inside and outside their classrooms. On the third floor of the Historical Society’s Park Place building, Jusion-Iturralde stores props and antique devices that she uses in teaching students about the lives of New Jersey residents during the Civil War era.

“It’s part of a critical thinking exercise. I show students the props or images and discuss what it was used for. You don’t just want to teach them facts; you want them to participate in the learning experience.”

From teaching in the classroom to tours outside of them, Jusion-Iturralde stresses the importance of teaching not just history, but the lives of the people that were a part of it. “History is about sharing stories, and that’s what I’m doing.”


New Jersey History Society tours take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. in Military Park. The New Jersey History Society is located at 52 Park Place.