17 TIPS FOR HOW TO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE AT NEWARK’S OPEN DOORS CITYWIDE ARTS FESTIVAL
Published October 5, 2017 | Promoted by
Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival kicks off its 16th annual event on Thursday, October 12th and runs through Sunday, October 15th. Visit newarkarts.org/opendoors to learn more about what’s planned for the four-day festival, and visit brickcitylivetickets.com/newark-arts for tickets to the festival’s paid signature events!
Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival delivers every year with dozens of events, hundreds of artists and thousands of attendees interacting around their love of art. We spoke to artists and past attendees who know their way around the festival to get their tips on how to make the most of one of the most hotly anticipated events in Newark each year.
1. “[It’s a] great place to meet cool people”
Dilettante Bass, a Newark native and regional scenester, offers this advice for making the most of Open Doors. With more than 8,000 people attending in 2016, Open Doors events will bring you face-to-face with people from around the world, and with people in your own backyard who you may have never met. Newark-based artist and educator Kween Moore put it this way: “Be open to experiencing people, not [just] artists, in their true forms”
2. But if you’re an up-and-coming artist, don’t forget to network
Naturally, Open Doors is crawling with artists from a wide variety of experience levels working across an array of mediums and styles. You’ll also find curators, buyers, arts administrators and everyday people who are interested in art and artists.
We recently spoke to Danny Simmons, the abstract expressionist painter and gallerist who will open his solo exhibit, “disRUPT Newark,” at Fownders on the festival’s opening night and will be an “A Conversation With…” panelist. (He’s also big brother to Russell Simmons and Reverend Run.) One of the top pieces of advice Danny offered to artists looking to make a living with their work: network.
It you’re an artist, or if your child is interested in the arts, come to Open Doors and talk to as many people as you can.
“disRUPT Newark” Opening, Thursday, October 12. Cost: Free | RSVP
Speaking of kids, Newark Mommies, a group run by Newark residents Tamara Campbell and Endelea Meadows, has curated a special series of Open Doors events for children that will take place Saturday, October 14th on Halsey Street.
“The Open Doors Kids schedule of creative events is ideal for short attention spans,” said Tamara, who also runs Newark Pulse and is half of the husband-and-wife team behind Burger Walla (47 Halsey Street). “Nearly ten activities are planned within walking distance of each other so families can drop-in early, before naps, after lunch or enjoy the full four hours doing something creative with their little one(s).”
If you want a little variety in your social calendar, Open Doors is your scene. You’ll find a diverse array of people, a fun and festive air, and you’ll even come across complimentary beer and wine. Most of the events are free, and the handful of paid events are #worthit.
Paul Chinnery, a photographer who exhibited work at Open Doors in 2016, offers this advice: “Look at the program to see where everything is and consolidate your moves.”
One of the great features of Open Doors is that the festival offers dozens of events and has hundreds of artists participating. It makes for wall-to-wall action during festival weekend, but it’s worth taking a look at the program and carefully charting your course. On a related note…
6. Get super hyperlocal with “clusters”
In recognition of the sheer number of events on their hands, organizers have instituted a clever new way to organize Open Doors this year. Although exhibits will generally run the full four days of the festival, events will be grouped into four neighborhood “clusters.”
Open Doors will concentrate events like openings, artist talks and other signature events in smaller geographic areas (these are the clusters) each day of the festival, making it easier for attendees to plan their days, get around and maximize their experience. The clusters are University Heights (Thursday, October 12), Market Street (Friday, October 13), Halsey Street North & South (Saturday, October 14th) and Gateway/Ironbound (Sunday, October 15th). And with that, a pivot to some practical advice…
7. Be “comfortably chic” with your footwear
Writer and photojournalist Bimpe Fageyinbo exhibited photography at last year’s Open Doors. Her advice: make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
“You’ll still want to look good,” she advises, but unless you have masochistic tendencies or are the type to rock your heels come hell or high water, you might want to consider trading fancier footwear for kicks that make it easy for you to move within and between spaces.
The advice isn’t just for heel wearers, Newark-based poet and professor Sean Battle echoed Bimpe’s recommendation: “Be prepared to walk. A lot.”
8. And fix your face
Sticking with the aesthetic theme, Bimpe also advises that if you like to have a photo-ready grin when the cameras come out, you should be ready to put your game face on at a moment’s notice. “Be prepared to smile more than you normally would,” she told us. “Cameras are everywhere.”
9. Scope out live shows and performances
Open Doors focuses on the visual arts, but not exclusively so. Paul emphasized that many shows feature a performance element. If you like music, spoken poetry and other performance-based art, make sure you investigate those opportunities on Open Doors’ schedule and add them to your itinerary.
10. Go to the movies
Newark-based production company DreamPlay Media is pulling out all the stops for Open Doors with a program dedicated to the short films of award-winning director Yuri Alves, which will unfold at Citiplex 12 (360-394 Springfield avenue) on Saturday, October 14th at 7:30 p.m. The event will feature five films in all, plus a Q&A with Yuri and cast members. Here’s a sneak preview of On the Cusp, of one of the movies that will screen at the event:
Because of the sheer amount of events at Open Doors, get a jump on your day to see as much as possible. According to festival FAQ, general festival hours each day are noon to 9 p.m., though hours might vary slightly exhibit by exhibit.
12. For goodness sake, do the mural tour
See DreamPlay Media’s full video about the Gateways to Newark mural, which is the longest mural on the East Coast, here.
With the Murals & Martinis™ tour, the city of Newark is your gallery. The murals themselves are jaw-dropping and often come with a backstory given that many of them were borne of community collaboration.
On top of that, the four-hour bus tour will grant participants a chance to see a lot of the city—all five wards, in fact. It’s a great way to get the lay of the land if you’re newer to Newark, and an opportunity to see your city in a whole new way if you’re a city native.
This year, tour participants will have the added benefit of enjoying a preview of the GRAMMY Museum Experience™ Prudential Center before it opens to the general public.
“Some of the best times I’ve had at Open Doors is when I’ve hopped from art party to event to gallery with friends,” said Lauren Craig, marketing manager at Newark Arts and author of 100 Things to Do in Newark Before you Die. With your squad in tow, Open Doors can provide a great canvas for a roll-with-it adventure.
14. …or fall in with a new crew
The Glambassador Art/Bar Crawl Passport is a great way to dive headlong into the festival without mapping a schedule yourself. “[It’s] for those who want a guided group experience that includes cocktails and the hottest events in each cluster,” Lauren told us. You can purchase tickets for individual days/clusters, or purchase a weekend-long passport to get a curated Open Doors experience on all four days.
Related:Glambassador Open Doors Bar Crawl Passport, Thursday, October 12 – Sunday, October 15. Cost: $20-$75 | Get your tickets
15. Plan to have lunch at a local restaurant
Karen Brown-Stovell is Executive Director of Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance. She also curated an exhibit celebrating local businesses at Open Doors last year.
Karen advises attendees to purposefully seek opportunities to enjoy meals locally. Luckily, the Open Doors team has recommended eateries in each cluster so you can easily find opportunities to enjoy local fare. Some of them will even offer deals during festival weekend. Download the free Brick City Live app (visit brickc.it/getapp on your mobile device) to access this information!
16. Discover what you love about art
With so much art to see and experience, Open Doors is a great opportunity to find out for yourself what pulls you in. It might even be the start of a lifelong habit of art appreciation. With so much art to see, you’ll have lots of opportunities to discover what gets you going.
17. And if you like a work of art, consider buying it
Brick City Live’s Andaiye Taylor attended Paul Chinnery’s show and artist talk at Open Doors in 2016 and fell in love with his photograph of the Weequahic Park lake. Now she can admire it daily: Andaiye purchased the piece from Paul, and it’s now hanging in her home.
At Open Doors, you’ll come face-to-face with the artists whose work you’re seeing. It’s an opportunity to ask questions about them and their work, and if you’re particularly moved by a piece, there may even be an opportunity to acquire it.
Karen’s advice was succinct: “Most of the art is for sale…so support local artists.”
Have you attended Open Doors in the past? What are your tips for making the most of the festival? Let us know in the comments.
Don’t forget to reserve your spot for Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival’s signature events! Register for Danny Simmons’ disrupt Newark (October 12, 9 p.m.) and I found god in myself: a celebration of Dr. Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls (October 14, 6 p.m.) at newarkarts.org/opendoors and visit brickcitylivetickets.com/newark-arts to purchase tickets for M&T Bank Murals & Martinis™ and Music! Public Art Tour, A Conversation With…, and Glambassador Open Doors Bar Crawl Passport.
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Amber-Robles-Gordon-min.jpg12332048Andaiye Taylorhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAndaiye Taylor2017-10-14 01:54:102017-10-14 02:56:32Dr. Ntozake Shange's seminal work gets a gallery's worth of consideration in new exhibit
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/danny-simmons.png10061774Andaiye Taylorhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAndaiye Taylor2017-10-07 23:53:292017-10-08 12:08:58Danny Simmons, painter and waymaker, disRUPTed a gated art world
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/art-appreciation.gif267400Newark Artshttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngNewark Arts2017-10-05 03:05:372018-07-17 22:38:2017 tips for how to live your best life at Newark's Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Screen-Shot-2017-10-03-at-12.06.28-PM-min-1.png5301010Newark Artshttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngNewark Arts2017-10-03 08:42:442017-10-17 13:29:42Before and After: How murals transformed these Newark streetscapes [interactive]
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/willie-cole-man-spirit-mask-min.png322600Brick City Livehttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngBrick City Live2017-09-27 11:53:132017-10-03 02:36:25Open Doors Festival continues its yearly glow-up as 2017 highlights are announced
About Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival
NewarkArts’ signature celebration of the arts, Open Doors 16th season is October 12-15, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. Over four inspiring days, the city’s bustling arts scene will explode with an awe-inspiring array of exhibits, screenings, workshops, artist talks, performances, open studios and more! Visit newarkarts.org/opendoors for a complete schedule of events and visit brickcitylivetickets.com/newark-arts to purchase tickets for signature events.
About Newark Arts
NewarkArts’ mission is to power the arts to transform the lives of those who work, live and play in the great city of Newark, New Jersey. Established in 1981, NewarkArts advances and expands the resources and offerings of arts and cultural organizations in the great city of Newark, New Jersey. Newark Arts provides leadership, direction, and technical assistance through partnerships with artists, arts administrators, community organizations, community development corporations, planning groups, economic development agencies, and government agencies as well as the general public. For more information, visit www.newarkarts.org.