Tim Dingman: Newark Public Library – the prohibited images

My sixties radical roots are always revivified by a confrontation with senseless regulation.  I feel a minor bit of civil disobedience is in order today.

I visited the Newark Public Library. I went there out of simple guilt. It’s a big, 19th-century marvel of Renaissance revival arches and Tiffany-style stained glass windows. The major exhibition of art in the library is made up of 1920s to 1980s architectural photos of Newark.

I walked in, stopped at the security desk, offered to let them search my bags, and showed them my camera. They waved me by without comment.  As I walked into the middle of the central atrium, I heard the powerful voice of a woman out of the seeming ether. It turned out to be the third floor. Really, this woman should be in the choir, because you could hear every note, syllable and exclamation point.

In the atrium, my eye drifted up, past the second and third levels of Renaissance revival arch and barrow vault levels to the amazing stained glass skylight.  I’m standing there with a camera: a 10 to 24 millimeter lens. What else was I supposed to do? I knelt down to put one more meter between me and the subject, in order to get a few more meters of width on the shot, which was probably 60 meters above me.

God. I love this city.

I walked up wide marble steps with brass hand rails to the second and third floors. The murals (Apollo tending the “fountain of knowledge”) are to photograph (at least I thought at the time) for another time with more planning, which this kind of photo work takes. On the third floor, I found the young woman with the voice, loudly berating someone on the phone.

Looking up again. Stairs. Going up. To the fourth floor. This is clearly administration territory. I could tell, because there is almost no art. I’m looking at the only exhibit on the floor, and someone opens a hallway door. It’s an attractive woman who starts with, “Are you looking for something? May I help you?”

I explained my position. I confessed my guilt at not having been there before. I explicated my revelry at finally allowing myself to view the architectural bounty of the building.

“You aren’t taking pictures, are you?”

“Well, yeah.  Who could not?”

“We don’t allow pictures. It’s policy.”

“Wait. I can go to the Met in New York City and take pictures. I can go to the Metropolitan Library on 42nd Street and take pictures. I can go to the Art Institute in Chicago and take pictures. But I can’t take pictures here….with all of this architecture and history?”

“It’s our policy.”

I knew better than to pursue it.  I wasn’t going to make her work above her pay grade.

Here is the real legal deal, at least in New York as dictated by case law: in public places, you can take public photos. In private places, the owner or agent of the owner can prevent you from taking photos. If you walk onto the sidewalk, which is public space, you can take the damn photo. I’m not recommending that you argue with or confront the “agent” (the real principals will never confront the issue). I’m saying…sometimes, civil disobedience is a requirement of a civil society. And with that in mind:





Editor’s note: The library’s website says that, “Photography on the library premises without the permission of the Library administration and all those photographed,” is not allowed. But generally, photography in public spaces where one is lawfully present is allowed. We’ve reached out to the library for more context about the purpose of the policy, and will follow up if they provide any comment.

“The working artist’s rag”: Survival options | Artist-in-residence Tim Dingman

Read the first installment of “The Working Artist’s Rag” here.

One of the good things about daylight savings time is that, when I start work at 5:30 AM, it’s beginning to get light outside.  I have  occasional (but always temporary) flashes of reality: Why am I working on art projects at 5:30 in the morning?  Hmm…oh, yeah, the 85/15 rule.  As stated here earlier: As a working artist, you need to spend 85% of your time promoting yourself and your work and 15% of your time eating, sleeping and making art. Worse: I’m working  at 5:30 AM because I’m getting email from other artists about projects and collaborations, new of ongoing.

Right now, I’m deep into the 15% mode.  Right now, I am intellectually and creatively, well, fat.  I have multiple long-term projects ongoing. I have offers and requests to collaborate with artist and social activists in Newark and New York City. I just finished my two-week stint as principal photographer for the Newark Art council’s “Open Doors” week. People on the street downtown recognize me and say, “Hey, photographer.”  (That’s weird.)  I’m the freaking artist-in-residence at Brick City Live.  Now all I have to do is figure out how to do the eat, sleep, and make art part of the equation.

Working Artist’s Survival Options

Minimum wage, part time, seasonal work.  Minimum wage in New Jersey is $8.25 an hour. If you work a 40- (or 37.5-, or 35-) hour week, you net about $240, or about $12,000 per annum.  Rents in Newark for warm, safe spaces run about $850 a month or about $10,200 per annum.  So, let’s figure $2,500 annually (about $48 a week) for “other.”  Get another job?  Sell equipment?

Priorities. How do you divide up $48 a week?  Food, cell phone, internet, utilities?  Medication, glasses, dentistry?  Ink, paper, batteries, companionship, alcohol?  So far, I have traded albuterol sulfate for ink and clonazipam for paper. I don’t have anything to trade for rent, but I don’t care much about food.
Sudden offers. The offers you get by just “showing up” cause other problems.  Tuesday, I was invited to participate in a pop-up show on West 13th Street in New York City. Now. Do I jump into more paper, ink, and batteries to bring loose prints to sell at $50 to $75 apiece, or do I buy…albuterol inhalers? Got to pay the rent.  What next?

Below: Tim photographs poet Shye Sales

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Tim Dingman is Brick City Live’s November “artist-in-residence”.


Tim Dingman: Why do we make art?

Why do we make art? There is no choice. You either don’t much care and, therefore, don’t bother, or you are driven and you need to make it. You need to create. It is simultaneously very self-centered and arrogant and absolutely selfless. You need to express yourself and inflict your voice on the civilian public at large and share and inform and enlighten. You need to bring the expression of what you believe to be your “revealed truth” to a (perhaps) unperceptive population.

Newark is not Chelsea. Working in the arts community in Newark tends to give expression to the bias in the community, to the revelatory and expressive inclusion of the rest of the community. The South Bronx and Chelsea, well…not so much. This is why I live here. This is why, at my advanced old age and semi-decrepitude, I have been able to be revivified and join in, and be accepted by the arts community (musical, literary, and visual) in Newark.

I have lived in most of the regions of the US east of Wisconsin. Newark, as the rest of America used to be, is a place where one can re-imagine and remake oneself. This is a place that remakes itself periodically, and that embraces the new more willingly that any other place where I have lived.

Introducing our new “artist-in-residence” feature

Each month, a Newark-based artist will lend their work, sentiments, and inspiration to the Arts section of Brick City Live. The parameters we set for exactly how they’ll execute that are very few, and the creative control they’ll have is nearly absolute – these are artists we’re talking about, after all.

We hope this feature will help you discover new artists and give you a small window into the vibrancy of the artist community here in Newark. This is the smallest sliver of the talent working right here in town.

Our first artist-in-residence will be Tim Dingman. He was the principal photographer for the Open Doors arts festival that took place here in Newark last month, and graciously shared those photos with Brick City Live. Tim is a photographer who has been living and working in Newark for the past three years. He’s currently showing his work at City Without Walls (cWOW) in the exhibit, “Newark, Can You Be Thus? A Creative De-Struction”. Check out his inaugural post, “‘The working artists’s rag’: an introduction,” here.

Although the artist-in-residence for a given month will be given a significant share of voice in the arts section, we’ll still continue to profile artists and consider op-eds – in both written and visual formats – from people who would like to contribute. We have artists lined up through the end of the year, but if you’d like to be considered for a month next year, or nominate a Newark-based artist to be considered, please send an email with subject “artist-in-residence” to contributions@brickcitylive.com.

We hope you’ll enjoy the new feature.

“The working artist’s rag”: An introduction

My name is Timothy P. Dingman.

I am a working artist and this is a “rag.”  Think of it as a “Raga”: a story, a lesson, an explanation, a riff, an apology (in the philosophical Thomistic/Aristotelian sense). This is a serial blog for the month of November done at the gracious invitation of Brick City Live. It is an essay spread over 30 days , about what a working artist in Newark, New Jersey does. It is an explanation of what one does to be and must do to be an artist. It is an explanation of how one gets to be an artist.  Everyone wants to get to be an artist…until they get to be one.

I promise that my name is Timothy Dingman. I promise that from the time I was 7 until I was 24, I never lived in one place for more than sixteen months. I promise that I am currently showing my photographs at cWOW in Newark and a tiny gallery in Chelsea, on 24th Street. These facts, I think, confirm my status as a working artist. At least it confirms that I meet all of the demands of the definition.  I hope I have achieved some small level of credibility with you, my audience.

I came to Newark in 2011.  I had my kids out of or into stable positions at school or work. Their mother had migrated to California some years before.  I was looking to live in a city, as I had always lived on the edge of cities and found the vibrancy, diversity, access to unique culture and basic arrogance of proclaiming oneself a “city dweller” worth the risk.

The risk is considerable.  In 2011, I participated in 6 shows in New York City and suburban New York and northern New Jersey.  In November of 2011, I got mugged pretty brutally in the courtyard of St. Lucy’s Church on 7th Avenue.  It took me the better part of 18 months to get out of the hospital and out of my apartment.  I still can’t quite see out of my left eye.  The last three months have reaffirmed my faith in and dedication to art.

Thus began my real connection with both the arts and “civilian” communities in Newark, and my admiration and fascination with that relationship.   The real breakthrough came last month, when someone on Clifton Ave walked up to me and asked me if I wanted to buy drugs.  It felt like acceptance. Just then, for a moment, I was in the community. Poor guy. I might be the only person my age on the East Coast who doesn’t smoke pot.  Don’t get me wrong: I would try it if not for my asthma. If he knew what kind of prescription psych meds I take, he might have asked to buy from me.

I had a mentor in Bergen/Rockland counties named Paula Mattawick.  Her mantra to me was “85/15”. If you want to be a working artist, allocate 85% of your time promoting and selling your art and yourself…and your ass if you have any left over. Allocate 15 % of your time to eating, sleeping, and making art.  A lot gets left behind.

I had a mentor in New York City named Jeanine Alfierei: intelligent, generous, talented, driven. Her partner, Elaina, has two Masters degrees and, as a painter, knows no fear.  She taught me that it isn’t so much the individual mentors or friends that are important to an artist, but involvement with the community that counts.  It isn’t that every one depends on everyone else; it’s that everyone in or out of the arts community in Newark is prepared to give anyone else a little step up. A little word of encouragement. An introduction.

The city of Newark…

I came here for the cheap rents. I came here because my oldest son was and architecture student at NJIT, and we developed a symbiotic/parasitic relationship that revolved around rent and mutual exchange of information, new and old.

I stayed here for the community.  I can’t have any interaction with an artist or a regular community member here that does not include a concern for the community at large. That would not happen in Rockland County, Bergen County, or Chelsea.



Tim Dingman is Brick City Live’s November “artist-in-residence”. To learn more about the feature, go here.


Open Doors: World’s largest monotype print in Newark

Participants gather in Newark yesterday to make a 1,900 square foot print in Washington Park as part of the Open Doors art festival.
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Open Doors: Halsey Street businesses join in

Open Doors along Halsey Street.

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Open Doors: Shots from the festival headquarters

Feature photo above: Dave Lancet doing a performance piece, in which he calls people to invite them to the gallery opening.

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Open Doors 2013: Artisan Collective poetry reading

In addition to selling handmade clothing and home accents, Artisan Collective hosts poetry readings, open mics, wine tastings, writing workshops, and more. For a full list of events at Artisan Collective, visit brickc.it/artisancollective.

Open Doors 2013 runs through Sunday, October 20. View their full schedule here.

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Open Doors 2013 Slideshow: Stigmata and Baja Ukweli’s Æ:ASH [axiomæthos]

The Stigmata group exhibition explored the plight of the social outcast. Newark’s own Rodney Gilbert, a graduate of Arts High School and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a longtime art educator, curated the show. The opening reception took place on Saturday, October 12.

Open Doors 2013 runs through Sunday, October 20. View their full schedule here.

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