Open Doors 2015: Forum in Form features five women sculptors at Index Art Center

Forum in Form, an exhibit housed at Index Art Center featured 5 female sculptors from the Newark area. Curated by Colleen Gutwein, the featured artists include Bisa Washington, Amanda Thackray, Adrienne Wheeler, Noelle Lorraine Williams and Dominique Duroseau. Using sculpture and installation art pieces, the exhibit visually unpacked questions of race, identity, gender and culture. Gutwein who is also a Newark based artist is the photographer and documentarian behind the Newark Arts Photography Project, an ongoing photography project that aims to document contemporary artists in Newark.

“There’s a community element to the arts in Newark. It’s never been, show up, show your work and leave. The community has always supported the arts, and there has been so much support from schools, elected officials and residents,” said Gutwein.

As well as the exhibition, attendees were given access to the work of Index Art center artists in residence. Jen Schwartz and Linda Chen, the artists behind This is the Afterlife and Creepy Gals clothing lines are two artist in residence. Both artists collaborate to produce multimedia art projects that range from art installations to fashion shoots. The minimalist and eerie aesthetic of Schwartz clothing line is complimented by youthful, feminist oriented vibe of Chen’s apparel line, Creepy Gals.

Artist in residence, Hila Sela explored femininity, beauty and aging with her painting collection of nude middle aged women. Against the backdrop of their naked bodies, Sela used cool blues and sunflower yellows as the base colors, each shade highlighting the undertones of her subjects skin and adornments.  

“I was really interested in aging, and how aging affects beauty. A lot of women tend not to feel as beautiful the older they get and I wanted to explore that with these paintings,” said Sela

William Oliwa, another artist in residence takes experimental art to a whole new level. Oliwa uses wiring to create sound waves. One of his installations was set up to recite the poem, Two Rivers by Ralph Waldo Emerson. When asked what the inspiration behind the installation was, Oliwa stated that it was sheer curiosity that developed.

“When I make art, I’m always trying to learn something or teach myself something.”

With a wide range of artists whose mediums vary, Index Art Center should be on the must-visit list for every art lover.

Open Doors 2015: ‘More Human than Human’ takes SEED Gallery visitors to new realms

open doors 2015 cardSEED Gallery is one of Newark’s most innovative art spaces. With a wide array of young underground artists and a bevy of alternative programming – including their wildly successful weekly Co-Lab – SEED has carved out its territory as a home for art that one won’t find anywhere else in the city.

During the weekend-long Open Doors festivities, SEED Gallery further cemented their reputation with their exhibit titled “More Human Than Human.” The show was curated by Roland Ramos, an organizer and founder of Digable Arts Festival, an interactive art and music festival in Hoboken.  

Fresh off its Jersey City Artist Studio Tour debut, More Human Than Human featured more than ten artists, including critically acclaimed artist and veteran art blogger Colin C. Jorgensen (also known as Cojo).

Work from the exhibit explored tales of genetic mutation, the presence of extraterrestrial life and psychedelic-themed art.

According to the exhibit’s press release, the only shared theme among all artists was the exploration of “the intricate scientific balance between what is and what can be.” Rooted in the idea of the unknown and extraordinary, artist Cojo explored superhuman fantasies with a painting that merged the most beloved superheroes of our youth. In a tribute to lost youth, artist Jenny Harada created an experimental 3D portrait of stuffed animals, featuring actual stuffed animals.

Featured artist Ray Acardio’s piece titled “Big Mouth” takes the term to a whole new level. Acardio’s piece features a round mouth sporting a toothless grin. With a background in street art and graphic design, Acardio brings graffiti-inspired details to the area surrounding his multidimensional mouth.

While most artists focused on the physical association of the phrase “more human than human,” local Newark artist 5meo chose to focus on the spiritual.

“The art is a reflection of what is beyond human comprehension, this idea of perfection that only exists in another state of mind or another lifetime.  I try to find ways to recreate what I think that is,” said the artist.

Jersey City resident and Open Doors first-timer Ed Ramirez surmised the meaning of the work. “I think it’s meant to showcase art that’s beyond what the mind can imagine,” said Ramirez. “There are a lot of superhero elements which make me think that there is something hinting at our own superhuman strengths as people.” 

Newark in Kentucky: Community and resident leaders break the ice at the Community Leadership Institute

This weekend, a delegation of more than thirty Newark-area community organizers and resident leaders are attending the Community Leadership Institute, a series of training workshops being organized by Neighborworks America. Pamela Daniels, a community outreach coordinator with Unified Vailsburg Services Organization, is one of those delegates. Here is her account of day one of the conference.

The Neighborworks America Community Leadership Institute (CLI) is a resident-focused training program that focuses on building capacity within communities through a three-day, invitation-only conference for organizers and residents. Held annually in various cities across the United States, this year’s convention took place in Louisville, Kentucky with nearly one thousand participants lodging and attending courses at the Galt House Hotel and Louisville Kentucky Convention Center.

A team of thirty-plus Greater Newark Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)-supported nonprofits and community development corporations attended the CLI as Team Newark, with representatives displaying all the Confidence, Conviction and Dedication sought after and seen at this year’s themed event of the same name.

The Friday morning plenary introduced conference expectations and opened with a call for courage, creativity, and flexibility. Immediately, conference goers were challenged to act beyond their comfort zones and shift to another table to sit with people they didn’t know or arrive with, a simple request to activate the leadership character traits many awarded to themselves through the self-assessment “homework” assigned upon arrival on Thursday evening.

As we were being asked to break out of our comfort zone, we were able to critique each other without having to be guarded,“ said Tariq Raheem, Acting President of the UVSO Heart of Vailsburg Block Club Coalition of Newark. “Someone rating their flexibility as 3 (out of 3), and wasn’t willing to move to another table when propositioned by the instructor to do so quickly learned something about themselves.”

The plenary concluded with activities designed to recognize and eliminate social collusion, strategies for effective listening, and benefits of acknowledging and reinforcing the resiliency of others in order to empower individuals to build a better self and community.

“It was a very emotional process,” said Mecca Keyes, a member of the UVSO Heart of Vailsburg Block Club Coalition Steering Committee. “When people at the table started to open up about personal tragedies and triumphs they’ve experienced in life, I couldn’t believe how strong these people were, and how brave and compassionate they are to want to do more for their communities despite what they have faced. That’s the true definition of resiliency.”

Over thirty-five afternoon workshops were scheduled for the guests in attendance, ranging from “Developing Your Leadership Potential” to “How Sustainable Communities Save Money.” Mecca Keyes participated in the “Facilitating & Decision Making” course and was volunteered by group participants to act as lead facilitator for a course exercise. Therein, she learned the difference between transactional and transformational relationships, strategies for resolving conflicts, and how to reach consensus among a group.

“The workshop was energetic, informative, and insightful,” said Keyes. “I got constructive criticism back from the group, which works well for me, and I learned what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are. I am excited to see what tomorrow’s workshops and offsite tours bring.”

Friday evening, Neighborworks America held the 23rd Annual Dorothy Richardson Awards for Resident Leadership, named in honor of Pittsburgh native Dorothy Mae Richardson, a pioneer of the community development movement and the inspiration behind the creation of Neighborworks America. The Dorothy Richardson Award is given to extraordinary residents from across the United States for their outstanding efforts to improve their community.

The Community Leadership Initiative is set to continue until Sunday afternoon. To follow live updates from guests, find and follow @Neighborworks and check the hashtag #CLIengage.

Featured image courtesy Pamela Daniels.

Support HIV/AIDS awareness at La Casa de Don Pedro’s talent show

Local performers can showcase their talent for a cause, at La Casa de Don Pedro’s talent show to benefit AIDS awareness this weekend.

The talent show will take place on Saturday, October 17 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Robert Treat Hotel, located at 50 Park Place in Newark.

The event is meant to raise awareness about the severity of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community, as part of National Latino AIDS Awareness Month.

Talent show performers will battle it out for a $1,000 cash prize. The event will also include free raffles, food, information tables and health screenings for guests.

The judges of the acts include Emi Antonio, a Dominican singer; Amanda Erazo, also known as the Ecuadorian singer La Negrita Chavelona; and Ariagna Perello, owner of a modeling agency in Newark.

The event is free and open to the public. It is made possible by a number of local sponsors, and Sent from my iPhone

Many are expected to attend the talent show, as last year’s event had more than 500 in attendance, according to La Casa de Don Pedro. For more information on the event contact La Casa de Don Pedro at 973.624.4222.

La Casa de Don Pedro is a community-based organization in Newark that provides comprehensive services and provider of comprehensive services for residents.  Their programs include child advocacy, family well-being, educational and employment opportunities, and self-suffiency programs. For more information you can visit

Featured image courtesy of La Casa de Don Pedro

Celebrate black women in the media at the 2nd Annual Black Women Trailblazers in Media gala

things to do cardAll are welcome to an evening of celebration and discussion of black women in the media field at the 2nd Annual Black Women Trailblazers in Media Gala, on October 23. The event, hosted by OMG Enterprise, will feature cocktail networking sessions, an award ceremony, and media personality panel and question-and-answer session.

Makeba Green, a 21-year old student, author, and media entrepreneur, will host the evening. The media gala is a fundraiser for OMG Enterprise’s annual scholarship for high school seniors and college students. According to OMG a portion of the funds raised will also be donated to a self-care organization in memory a friend of Green’s, who took her own life.

The keynote speaker will be Sakina Spruell Cole, a business journalist and the CEO of Cole Media Inc. Cole has previously been a senior editor at Black Enterprise Magazine, a producer on CNBC’s Suze Orman show, and was a communications director here in Newark. Panel speakers include media personalities and leaders Shannon Lanier, Christian Wright, Shanna Van Ness, Victoria Washington, Sherri Jones and Taneshia Nash Laird.

Award ceremony honorees include Staci Hallmon-Bazzani, national sponsorship director of Essence Magazine; Stacy Tisdale, senior personal finance editor at Black Enterprise; public relations executive Candice Nicole; Patrice Harrison, founder of Ambassador United; and Marjorie Harris, press secretary for the office of Mayor Ras Baraka.

The gala will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 50 Branford Place in Newark. Tickets are offered at varying prices and can be purchased online. General admission is $100, non-profit admission is $30, college student admission is $25 with a valid student identification, and VIP admission is $200.

Featured image courtesy of OMG Enterprise

Pumpkin Recipe Contest highlights upcoming Fall Block Party Celebration in Newark

Greater Newark Conservancy is looking for Newark’s best pumpkin recipe. Entries will be judged at the Conservancy’s annual Fall Block Party on Saturday, October 17th from 10:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. at the Judith L. Shipley Urban Environmental Center, 32 Prince Street in Newark between Springfield Avenue and South Orange Avenue.

All contest participants must register at the Conservancy’s outdoor learning center on Prince Street. You must fill out a recipe card provided at the time of registration, including all ingredients and steps, and present the card to the judges along with your pumpkin dish at the event.

Bring your pumpkin dish and recipe card to the Fall Block Party by noon. No late entries will be accepted. All entries, both savory and sweet, will be tasted and judged in different categories including a People’s Choice Award. The free pumpkins and registrations are limited and available on a first-come, first-service basis.

In addition to the pumpkin recipe contest, the family-friendly Fall Block Party will feature informative gardening and cooking demonstrations, crafts and activities for kids, a plant sale, local vendors and non-profits, and the Conservancy’s Youth Farm Stand featuring fresh, locally grown produce.

The Conservancy will also be represented at the Newark Celebration 350 event at Military Park on October 17th, participating in the Peace Parade and providing fresh, locally-grown produce for sale at a Youth Farm Stand.


Founded in 1987, Greater Newark Conservancy’s mission is to promote environmental stewardship to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s urban communities through environmental education, community gardening and urban farming, beautification of neighborhoods, job training opportunities and environmental justice.

For more information about the Pumpkin Recipe Contest, contact Nutrition Coordinator Megan Sweet at 973-642-4646, ext. 14. For more information on the Fall Block Party or other Conservancy programs and services, volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, contact Greater Newark Conservancy at 973-642-4646 or visit

You can also follow news from the Conservancy through social media at plus Twitter and Instagram – @Citybloom87.

Official parties announced for this weekend’s Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival

things to do cardThe 14th annual Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival kicks off this weekend, and the thousands of expected visitors who will take in dozens of art exhibits by scores of participating artists can also look forward to the three official parties that will commemorate the yearly event.

Branding and marketing company The Honors Program, which produced a well-attended and highly rated live music festival at Military Park this summer, is again bringing a roster of critically acclaimed artists from a wide variety of genres to provide entertainment in Newark, this time at the Open Doors parties.

On Thursday, October 15th, the festival will officially kickoff with a benefit party at Skylab rooftop lounge (810 Broad Street). The party will feature sets by The Twilight Tone, Mr. Reed, Alpenglow, and DJ P-Soul. Proceeds for the event, which costs $40 per ticket (available on Eventbrite), will be donated to the Newark Arts Council’s education and community programs, and guests will also receive free wristbands valued at $10 that entitle them to exclusive deals during the run of the festival.

Then on Friday, October 16th, the Open Doors Gallery Crawl will be followed by a party at Index Art Center (237 Washington Street). Organizers suggest a $5 donation at the door, and entertainment will be provided by soul/electro musician Suzi Analogue, synth/pop band Salt Cathedral, poet Boshia Rae-Jean, DJ Dana Lu, and dance duo Fever High.

The festival will wrap on Sunday, October 18th with a closing party at 765 Street (intersection at Broad and Bank Streets). The free party will include performances by DJ Slink, rappers Dougie F and Cash the Deadman, and indie rock band Terrible Terrible. Food and drinks will also be served at the closing party.

Download the Newark Arts Council’s festival app from your mobile device using URL


Sign up your child for the Bricks 4 Kidz Afterschool Robotics Club

opportunity cardSpaces are filling up fast for the free Afterschool Robotics Club in Newark, for ages 11 to 13, but there is still time to enroll now.

The program is run by Bricks 4 Kidz, and organization that uses LEGO bricks to trigger youth’s creativity and ignite their interest in science, technology, engineering and math. The kids use the LEGO bricks to “build unique creations, play games, have fun” and “build their self-confidence.”

There are two clubs with different meeting times and locations, and there are less than 10 spots left in each club.

The first club will be held at the Leaders for Life Center of Hope, located at 84 Clinton Place in Newark. Meetings will be on Mondays beginning on October 12 and ending on December 21. The club will meet from4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The second club will be held at the Clubhouse, located at 205 Spruce Street in Newark. Meetings will be on Wednesdays beginning on October 14 and ending on December 23. The club will meet from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

There are also several other paid classes for different age levels being offered by Bricks 4 Kidz, such as model building. Classes begin soon so sign up now to reserve your spot by visiting

Featured image courtesy of Bricks 4 Kidz.

Newark Celebration 350 ward meetings wrap in the North Ward

newark celebration 350 cardAt 6 p.m. Wednesday evening in the dimly lit worship space of the Third Presbyterian Church on Ridge Street, residents and community members of the North Ward gathered for the final ward meeting regarding the upcoming Newark Celebration 350.

“This is the place where folks in the North Ward used to come and take care of community business,” said Junius Williams, chair of Newark Celebration 350 and the director of the Abbott Leadership Institute at Rutgers University Newark.

Williams recalled the 1968 Democratic chairmanship election, where Steve Adubato, Sr. was elected North Ward Democratic party chairman. “I know this church has a long religious history, but I remember it’s political history,” he said.

Less than 50 years later, residents of the North Ward gathered again to make another contribution to the city, this time in the runup to a symbolic milestone.

“This celebration is our chance to change the narrative of the city and reintroduce Newark to the country and to the world,” said John Johnson, Jr., executive director of Newark Celebration 350.

Programming ideas to highlight Newark talent were once again the point of the evening as one resident suggested a Newark literary festival to highlight both established and up-and-coming authors. Another suggestion involved asking veteran Newark jazz artists to host citywide performances at some of the newly established venues in the city, like Duke’s Southern Table on Clinton Street.

In an effort to utilize city venues, a star-studded musical performance (Bruce Springsteen was requested specifically) at the mostly dormant Bears Stadium was another idea on the table.

Curating events that focused on engaging smaller communities in the city was also a focal point at the final celebration meeting.

“Big city events are cool, but it’s the folks in the outer neighborhoods that are disconnected from the said prosperity going on downtown,” said attendee Diane Colson. “What I would like to see are smaller forums that give residents a chance to really be engaged and feel empowered, and feel like they can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others by participating in what’s going on in the city,” Colson continued.

Newark 350 programming chairperson and NJPAC president John Schreiber echoed Colson’s point, and stated that the committee has received over a 100 different ideas from citizens in various wards.

“What’s important is that these events don’t just take place in the Central Ward. We want this to be an opportunity for all citizens to participate and understand the city’s past, present, and future,” said Schreiber.

Williams also elaborated on the city’s plan to use the events to educate Newark youth about the city’s history, while revealing tidbits of Newark Celebration 350’s plans to incorporate a Newark curriculum in the city’s public school system. “A lot of Newark’s history hasn’t been written down. There are a few of us who have written books and things like that, but a lot of Newark’s history is just out there,” said Williams.

“Out of Newark’s 350 years, my family has been here for 52. We should really feel proud of this city and celebrate it as much as we can,” said North Ward Councilman, Anibal Ramos, Jr. who was also in attendance. He suggested celebrating historic neighborhoods and immigrant communities in the city that have “contributed to the fabric and the development of Newark.”

A number of residents expressed that as the city embarks on a celebration of it’s 350th year, these landmark celebrations should become lifelong city initiatives that continue long after the year is over. “We shouldn’t stop at 350, these ideas should continue on to 351, 352 and so on,” said resident Zayed Abdalla.

As the event came to a close, Wiliams urged residents to keep brainstorming ideas for events. “The event submission is on a rolling basis, so as long as we have time and money, things can keep coming in. Ideas can keep coming in. They probably won’t make it into the first round of events, but they can make into the rest.”

The line up for the celebration’s first round of events will be released on October 17th, the same day as the celebration kickoff event in Military Park.

Featured Image: Newark Celebration 350