Open Doors 2015: At the festival’s closing party, looking back at this year’s weekend art lineup

open doors 2015 cardAll good things must come to an end.

This weekend, Open Doors lit the city up with an extraordinary number of exhibitions, studio tours and events. Residents were able to visit local galleries and acquaint themselves with local artists, while visitors were treated to a glimpse of the dynamic talent in Newark. As local art enthusiasts, artists, event organizers and students came together for the festival’s closing party, conversation flowed about galleries that were visited, art that was bought and the new artists that they got a chance to experience.

With a projected 6,000 visitors, this year has been dubbed as one of Open Doors most successful years, not only in terms of visitor turnout but also by the sheer number of events that were made available. As whispers of next year made its way through the room, attendees openly shared their favorite moments from this weekend and what they hope to see next year.

“I thought this year was great, I attended a few shows and I enjoyed them. I hope to see some more participation from college students in the area, not just attending but participating and showing their work. I know that there are so many talented student artists and I think that they should be a part of this,” said Kira Antoine, a student at Rutgers University-Newark.

Featured artist Dominique Duroseau noted the importance of publicizing the work of local Newark artists to the entire city and beyond. “In terms of craft, every year the work steps up, I think that a lot of people are feeding off the current political and social climate. All the work that is produced is a type of dialogue between the artist and society and the artist is trying to say something, so what I would like to see is more recognition for the hard work that the artists are doing here.”

“Seeing other people introduced to the work was great. People who are not artists, people are not from this area were introduced to such a broad range of artists,” said Adrienne Wheeler, a Rutgers University-Newark professor and curator of the Emerging Ideas exhibition featured at 765 Broad Street. With the impending departure of longtime Newark Arts Council executive director Linwood J. Oglesby, Wheeler noted that the Arts Council will have to continue its legacy of providing opportunity and space for local Newark artists.

“Many of the independently owned galleries in the city are outgrows from Open Doors in previous years, so I think that the Arts Council will have to look at how it’s going to continue to support the art scene by supporting those other spaces as well.”

Featured artist Kern Bruce mentioned the influx of art and artist from outside Newark, in a statement that encapsulates the fear of so many Newark residents, Bruce noted the importance of promoting the history and legacy of Newark art and artists.

“I feel like Newark is building a city on a city,  there are new galleries that are opening up which is great because this means that there are new cultural spaces in the city, but  they are neglecting to bring in the people that have been here historically. I feel that by doing so they are creating a divide.”

Peter Winstead Jr. of The Honors Program, the company behind the musical performances and branding at this year’s Open Doors festival hopes to see the continued growth of Open Doors, especially into a multifaceted art festival that includes not only visual arts but music, also.

“I thought it was an excellent festival. I’ve been to previous years and it’s always been amazing, but I’m happy that there was a lot of music incorporated into the festival this year. What I would like to see for Open Doors is for it to become more than a visual arts festival, it’s about bringing musicians and other kinds of artists to the forefront. Newark should be recognized as one of the premier cities for all kinds of art.”