This past Thursday, creative entrepreneur and branding consultant Abbi Yeboah treated attendees to an artistic display of food from local restaurants and culinary artists. Amongst the ongoing art exhibition at Newark’s Gateway Center, Yeboah curated her own food-oriented art show as the chefs turned what would normally be a conventional meal to a full-on art display.
Attendees and restauranteurs mingle at The Gateway Project, September 17, 2015.
“I wanted to do a mini art exhibition with the food, and then after looking at the art, people can eat the art. It’s just my fun twist on having an art show,” said Yeboah.
In order to achieve this, Yeboah instructed the featured chefs to let go of any inhibitions in order to create a drool-worthy art spread with their food.
“I asked the chefs to get really crazy and very creative. I told them to pick any theme that they wanted and to go all the way with it,” said Yeboah.
This resulted in nautical themed fruit platters and cupcake shaped meatballs, a testament to the dexterity of food and the creative minds of Yeboah’s selection of chefs. With cuisines of varying specialties and chefs with different backgrounds, attendees were treated a bevy of food options to admire and ultimately eat. As guests sampled the art, they were serenaded by the musical stylings of Jazz artist, Anthony Pocetti and singer, Lucine Yeghiazarryan.
Instead of focusing on hugely popular food franchises, Yeboah sourced some of Newark’s hidden culinary gems. From a mobile café with a kink for specialty coffee, to a confectionary company with an aim to put a healthy spin on your favorite sweets, the selection was a homegrown representation of the city’s dynamic culinary offerings.
“I wanted people in Newark to realize that there were some talented chefs in their area. Newark is growing with so many new tastes and cultures, and I wanted people to sample that,” said Yeboah.
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/culinary-arts1.jpg16634413Ashley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAshley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-09-21 00:01:092015-11-05 23:52:05Latest exhibition at The Gateway Project put the 'art' in culinary arts
With supermarkets few and far between, access to fruits, vegetables and other naturally sourced food items are limited for Newark residents.
The Greater Newark Conservancy isn’t a supermarket by any stretch, but it is finding a way to help close the fresh produce gap in the city, while also engaging residents in environmentally conscious education and community farming programs.
“Community gardening and growing fresh food isn’t a new subject, it’s something that has been going on for a long time in Newark and in other parts of the country,” said Robin Dougherty, executive director of the Conservancy.
But with an influx of fast food availability, some residents found it easier to eschew homegrown food for greasier fare. That is, until a new consciousness encouraged some to seek out much healthier alternatives.
“I think many things happened at one time to revive the community gardening movement,” said Dougherty, who credits food contamination issues that plagued the country in the 90’s, economic instability and, more locally, former Newark mayor Cory Booker as some of the reasons for the resurgence of interest in produce grown in the community.
Harriet Tubman Garden Celebration, 2015
“Mayor Booker supported a lot of community gardening initiatives. He wanted people to make good use of the land in the city because it belonged to the community,” Dougherty explained.
The conservancy’s Plot-It-Fresh program does just that. With farms scattered all over the city, most notably the Court Street Urban Farm behind the Krueger Scott Mansion, the conservancy took some of the city’s open land and turned it into community farms where resident’s can rent a plot of the land for a yearly fee of $10. The fee also covers access to gardening and farming education to help residents make the most of their new plots.
“It’s a very positive use of the land because it brings the community together, and it gives people who don’t necessarily live next door to each other the opportunity to get to know each other,” said Dougherty.
The community gardens also give the residents a chance to be involved in the beautification of their own city. According to Dougherty, this sense of ownership and responsibility is one that has yielded fruitful results in the fight to make Newark a little cleaner.
“For example, bringing a community garden into a neighborhood often means that dumping stops in that area. There are many ways you can use community gardens to help neighborhoods,” Dougherty explained.
“Gardening is more than planting food, it’s also exercise. So we’re promoting good health not just by encouraging clean eating, but also by the process of producing your own food,” she continued.
Alongside clean eating and physical activity, the Conservancy works with the city’s youth and at-risk adults by involving them in programs like Clean and Green and the Newark Youth Leadership Program. Both programs employ Newark residents on an internship or employment basis and expose them to landscaping skills, horticultural activities, and other educational programming.
“Although the space is a community garden,” said Dougherty, “it is also a space to gather people together for all kinds of intergenerational activity.”
Images courtesy Greater Newark Conservancy
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Hawthorne-Ave-community-gardener64.jpg38645152Ashley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAshley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-09-16 00:02:112016-07-21 12:45:49The Greater Newark Conservancy offers access to fresh produce, essential skills, and community
The fall series “The Art of …” kicks off in downtown Newark next Thursday, September 17 with “The Art of Food,” the first of four events hosted by local artistic event creator Abbi Creative.
The Art of Food, co-hosted by Food Snobbery and Brick City Eats, will have attendees sample new dishes, popular menu items, and catering options from Newark restaurants. The event is meant to spotlight “the amazing culinary opportunities that the residents, employees and visitors of Newark have around them to partake,” The Gateway Project said.
Some of the restaurants that will be featured at The Art of Food include Commerce Downtown Kitchen, Mama WaWa’s sweet Eat’n, Mercato Tomato Pie, and SugarCoated Affairs. There will also be some giveaways from restaurants including Eat Me up Cuisine by Chef Alexia Grant, and Dinosaur Barbecue.
The event will also provide networking opportunities, and include a live band, a cash bar, and games such as “Food Bingo,” and “Guess the Ingredient.”
“The Art of…” series is a project created by creative entrepreneur Abbi Yeboah, inspired by her new location operating out of the Gateway Project, an art gallery and studio space. The series will follow with events featuring the art of shoes, beards and wine.
The Art of Food will be held at The Gateway Project, located at 2 Gateway Center in Newark. The event will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and tickets are $20. You can RSVP online here. For more information, call (973) 977-8799 or email email@example.com.
Featured image by John Tornow via Flickr, Creative Commons
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/5357237846_780d0d1494_z.jpg425640Laura Reilly | Newswire Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngLaura Reilly | Newswire Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-09-09 00:21:082015-09-09 00:24:05Celebrate the Art of Food with Newark restaurants and culinary experts at The Gateway Project this month
Newark native Alfred Dill is a man who wears many hats: artist, community organizer, and mentor. But as diverse as his titles may appear, they are all an extension of his multifaceted relationship with the city of Newark.
Dill, or “King Pikeezy” as he is known to many, is what one would call a renaissance man or, in his words, a “griot.” In addition to identifying with the term personally, 32-year-old Dill stamps his latest musical endeavor, Young Griot EP, with the term as well.
“Griots were like the keepers of culture. These were people who went out and traveled and came back to the village to tell people about the stories of their travels,” said Dill.
“A lot of them were musical, so I just repurposed that idea. With all the things I’m doing I was like, ‘I’m going to be the young griot,’” he continued.
Alfred “King Pikeezy” Dill, center, wields a bullhorn at the Occupy the City rally on August 8, 2015. His daughter, right, holds a placard proclaiming “Peace” and “Love,” inscribed in a peace sign.
Dill is a graduate of Morehouse College, or “The Black Mecca,” as he calls it. His time at the historically black institution only intensified his innate inclination towards social awareness, one that was seeded during his childhood growing up in Newark’s West Ward.
“Growing up, I was just like every other teen. I got involved with the stereotypical things that were going on in the community. But being involved in different things helped me find myself,” said Dill. “I went to Newark Boys Chorus School and I was traveling a lot [with the school] from the 5th grade [on], so I was also exposed to a different lifestyle. So when I would come back home from these trips, it was like night and day.”
Performing at bar mitzvahs and black-tie events at such a young age showed Dill how far his talent could take him, and inspired him in his adulthood to pay that experience forward by cultivating young talent and encouraging at-risk youth in the city.
“Music is my forte, and I just wanted to do something positive for the community. I wanted to use music to bring some positive energy to at-risk teens,” he explained.
The organization, which functions as a collective of Dill and his friends, brainstorms creative community events to keep teenagers engaged and off the street. “We want to make it popular to be positive, you know?” said Dill.
A scroll through the group’s Facebook page will surface a public service announcement from 2013, in which Dill implores community members to attend a Toy Gun Exchange program organized by the group. Children and parents are expected to exchange toys that promote violence for basketballs, books and other positive material. Then-mayoral candidates Ras Baraka, Shavar Jeffries, and Anibal Ramos, among other Newark notables, make cameos in Dill’s video to promote the event.
With branded gear, engaging events and musical stylings that are sure to pique the interest of millennials, Dill wants to show that positivity, community involvement, and fun aren’t mutually exclusive.
“I want to be the balance. I want to use my music and my talent to stir the community in a good way,” Dill said.
Dill’s youthful foray into this realm was somewhat accidental. After a happenstance meeting with then-mayor Cory Booker, Dill became actively involved in the “Fathers Now” initiative. The program helped prepare young black men for fatherhood and ultimately an active role in the community. Dill excelled in the program, and was honored with the title “Father of The Year.”
Dill, center, shakes hands with Lavar Young, then president of the now-defunct nonprofit Newark Now, at the Father’s Now awards ceremony in 2011. Educator Dr. Steve Perry poses on the right.
“I saw how people were responding to me after I got involved [in the community]. It was a great feeling to be recognized by people for doing something good. It showed me that you don’t have to be on the street for the community to recognize you,” said Dill.
Dill’s musical endeavors are laced with the same awareness that is alive in his activism. During a performance at the weekly Co-Lab Open Mic at downtown Newark’s SEED Gallery, where Dill is a curator, Dill’s evocative words and spirited performance permeated the room. He delivered charged lyrics with deft movement, while eliciting responses from the crowd ranging from vigorous head nods to claps and brows furrowed in deep thought: all an affirmation that his audience identified with the stories Dill told.
“I want people to say, ‘I’m thinking when I’m listening to Keezy,’” he explained.
Dill uses the city’s storied and varied history with everything from art and music to crime as the building blocks of his work. In one of his recent videos, Young Renaissance, viewers get a glimpse of Newark’s downtown area, with the city’s infamous arcade making an appearance.
Dill said he hopes his love affair with Newark will one day manifest into a tangible space where he can continue to do the work he’s doing now, but on a larger scale.
“I would like to create a community center, but not just any community center. With everything that’s going on in Newark and the resurgence of the art community, I want to create a space for kids where they can get a balance of education and art,” said Dill.
“When I was growing up, we didn’t have that. You got off the bus after school and you went home. I don’t want that. I want to do something different.”
All images provided by Alfred “King Pikeezy” Dill
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/image_2.jpg13652048Ashley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAshley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-09-01 00:17:312015-09-10 15:29:47Alfred "King Pikeezy" Dill curates culture and mentors youth in Newark
Work by Newark artists line the exposed brick walls of Seed Gallery, located on the third floor of a Market Street walk-up downtown Newark.
But Seed doesn’t just showcase the work of Newark’s visual artists. At 8 p.m. every Tuesday night, Newark-area singers, instrumentalists, spoken word artists and rappers trudge up the gallery’s steep and narrow stairs, some with instruments in tow, to participate in Co-Lab, an event that is parts open mic, art show, and concert.
Above: A sampling of Co-Lab’s weekly flyers
Seed Gallery founder Gizem Bacaz describes the weekly event as “a fusion of different vibes, all created by chance.” Since the gallery’s inception in 2007, Bacaz and her team have used the space to encourage local artists of all genres to showcase their work. Co-Lab is a weekly manifestation of Seed’s mission.
“Seed is not your cookie-cutter art gallery,” said 33 year-old Bacaz before last week’s open mic. “It’s more involved, and there’s more life to it.”
In addition to their gallery setting, the key appeal of the Co-Lab open mics is that audience members and performers can’t predict how the evening will take shape. Instead, both parties co-create the show as it goes along.
This particular night, dim lights and the seductive sounds of R&B set the tone for the evening as performers take the stage. The mix was eclectic: soulful musings about natural hair in one performance; stories culled from the streets of Newark and reenacted on stage in rap form in another.
“What happens at Co-Lab is the turning of your life into art. That’s really what it’s all about,” said Bacaz.
Co-Lab is intended as a safe space where the line between art and life is blurred and where artists find themselves dissecting history, politics and society in the name of performance. According to Bacaz, this differentiates Co-Lab from any other open mic on the scene.
“Co-Lab isn’t just an open mic, it’s a full fledged experience,” Bacaz concluded.
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/colab-open-mic_players.jpg10852581Ashley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAshley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-08-28 00:38:352015-08-28 00:49:48Scene: Co-Creating in Newark at Co-Lab Open Mic
On North 5th Street near Park Avenue, there sit a slew of multifamily homes, mobile fruit and vegetable trucks stocked with jeweled green avocados, and a warehouse, nondescript except for the yellow “R. J. Hoppe, Inc.” lettering adorning the squat building’s flat, brown awning.
But what the building lacks in outward appeal, the carefully crafted, high-end wares and deep history inside more than make up for. R. J. Hoppe is a 40-year-old woodwork and furniture making company here in Newark, and its 12,500-square-foot warehouse is where Rolf Hoppe, the company’s president and only son of its now-retired founder, can be found on a weekday afternoon, perhaps working on a coffee table that he will ship to a customer in Nantucket the following week.
Hoppe is a graduate of New York’s Pratt Institute, one of the world’s foremost higher education institutions for design and architecture. But his woodworking education started at his father’s company, where his “entry-level” work entailed sweeping floors in the warehouse when they set up shop at their current location in 1975 (the company was incorporated in 1968). Sixteen years later, Hoppe assumed his current position as the company’s president.
“I’ve been working summers and winters since I was ye big, sweeping floors, picking up nails, rolling up extension cords, the whole thing. That’s kind of how I grew to know architectural woodwork,” said Hoppe.
At a time when consumers are quick to go the Ikea route, companies like Hoppe’s, which employs the use of mixed metals and exotic wood veneers, can have a difficult time connecting with the average furniture shopper.
“There are few architectural woodworking contractors out there that do what we do. A lot of them have already gone under,” Hoppe said. “I don’t know what the future holds for the business. There are spots here and there in terms of work, but from what I can tell, this area has been hit hard,” he continued.
Rolf Hoppe poses with his father.
As Hoppe thumbed through images of past work, it became clear why the herd of bespoke furniture outfits like his has thinned out. Hoppe’s portfolio boasts high-end commercial and residential projects that can set a customer back a couple thousand dollars.
From systems furniture for companies like Goldman Sachs, to residential projects for international celebrities, R. J. Hoppe’s work definitely suits customers of a particular taste and budget. Customized display cases, built-in bookshelves, and outdoor metal installations are among the types of projects the company takes on for its customers, which have included schools, banks, and retail stores, in addition to residential work.
“What really sets us apart is a particular attention to detail,” Hoppe said. “I think that the only reason we aren’t getting the work we should be getting is because we’re being underbid by contractors and people who will do a cheaper job — but not as good a job as us.”
Hoppe credits his dedication to craftsmanship to his roots. His father relocated to New Jersey from Germany after the Second World War, and quickly began work as a cabinetmaker in Newark.
“My father was about 15 when the war ended, and at that time you only had two choices – go to school or learn a trade,” said Hoppe. “He knew he had a gift for working with wood, so he explored it. And when there were still no jobs in Germany, he moved here.” Forty years after the founding of R .J. Hoppe, the warehouse still houses work created by Hoppe’s father.
Hoppe said that although the company’s core values around hand crafting, sharp attention to detail, and workmanship remain the same, he is infusing his own modern-day acumen into the family business, with hopes of staying ahead of the continuously changing industry. While his core customer territory radiates 50 miles from his Newark furniture shop, Hoppe said he hopes in particular to partner with local architects and designers in Newark to help source more local jobs, and to add texture to more of the city’s interiors with some of his company’s homegrown, custom-made style and craftsmanship.
R. J. Hoppe is located at 340 N. 5th Street in Newark, and can be reached online at rjhoppeinc.com, and by telephone at (973) 485-5665.
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/rj-hoppe1.jpg4781277Ashley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAshley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-08-26 00:20:412015-08-25 23:36:26R. J. Hoppe continues 40-year-old legacy of custom wood furniture making in Newark headquarters
For some, Sundays are a lazy day, perfect for recuperating from the weekend and preparing for the impending week.
But for the members of Tour De Newark, a local cycling group, there is no better way to spend the better part of a Sunday than by riding.
You might have seen the community-organized cycling crew on your Sunday morning stroll, dressed in enthusiastic cycling gear, helmets to match, as they zip through the empty Sunday streets. Sometimes the rides are intra-city, as with a recent “park to park” ride through Newark. But many others end at points further out, including Turtleback Zoo, MetLife Stadium, the George Washington Bridge, and Harlem.
An offshoot of United Cycle, Tour De Newark works to promote the healthy benefits of bike riding as a recreational activity and a transportation alternative, while also cultivating a cycling community here in Newark. The group is comprised of a diverse array of cyclists, many of them private-sector professionals, entrepreneurs, and city officials working across a wide array of disciplines in the area.
And although the name might suggest otherwise, members of Tour De Newark aren’t exclusively Newark residents. Co-founders Dilettante Bass and Alturrick Kenney, who are both Newark residents and natives, have extended the cycling community’s reach beyond the city’s five wards, welcoming residents from neighboring towns like Roselle and Elizabeth.
“We called it Tour De Newark to get people from Newark involved. The reason we began cycling as United Cycle is because everyone is not from Newark. Some riders come from Elizabeth, Union, Linden. We just all meet up in Newark,” said Bass.
As the Tour De Newark community grows with residents from Newark and beyond, Kenney and Bass are keen on using this community to promote a Newark-based lifestyle activity, and to show residents and visitors what Newark has to offer beyond the downtown district.
“Biking allows people to see and experience the city in a way that they wouldn’t have been able to from a car,” said Bass. “For a lot of people who are new to the city, they think that Newark is just the downtown area or the Central Ward or the East Ward. People only stay in this small radius, and they don’t see the rich culture that’s in some of the other neighborhoods,” he continued.
Both Kenney and Bass hope that Tour De Newark will help promote the cycling culture in Newark and, in turn, push the city to recognize traffic legislation that will keep bikers safe on the road.
“We have to make sure the city keeps installing bike lanes and bike-conscious signs so people can see that biking is a part of the city’s growth and overall development,” noted Kenney. “As we evolve, advocacy is going to become more apparent, because we want to make sure that our rights as bikers are included in the city’s overall concept,” he continued.
As the members of Tour De Newark who religiously meet every Sunday show, Newark’s cycling community is one that is growing and welcoming to bikers of different ages and stages. With plans for a ward-by-ward tour of Newark, this growing community is only on the cusp of executing their plans for the city’s cycling culture.
For more information about Tour De Newark, routes, meetup times and locations, find the group on Facebook. New to riding? The crew’s motto is “No man or woman left behind.”
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/tour-de-newark_hdr.jpg8372187Ashley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAshley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-08-17 08:37:432015-08-23 22:26:07With weekly rides to points near and far, Tour de Newark breeds cycling culture here in town
The Newark Print Shop, a local printmaking studio on University Avenue, is the place to be on Wednesday nights.
From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Wednesday, Lisa Conrad, a Newark based artist, teacher, and The Print Shop’s co-founder, hosts Print Club, a weekly printmaking night where seasoned printmakers and rookies alike can come together to utilize the open studio to make prints.
“I think the number one commodity for an artist is space, you might have a vision but you need space to actually make it happen,” said Conrad.
With a grant from The Newark Arts Council, Conrad started Art Bound in 2012, an arts initiative that gave Newark high school students space to create while teaching them the art of papermaking, printmaking and book arts in her own personal art studio. The program would eventually rebrand itself as The Newark Print Shop after a fire claimed Conrad’s studio in 2012.
Three years later, Newark Print Shop is now home to Print Club Wednesday, an Artist Residency Program, workshops and an open studio available by appointment.
Print Club Wednesday is the shop’s most popular event, and at 6 p.m. every Wednesday, local artists, business owners, children and parents flood the 2nd floor walk-up for a chance to make prints for a $10 donation.
#firstprintever by Newark Print Shop attendees
“My partner said that we’re like the speakeasy of printmaking, and I thought yeah, we kind of are,” said Conrad with a laugh.
Print Club attendees casually congregate over food and beverages while making prints on paper or t-shirts for anything from personal use or to promote an existing business. With help from Conrad, shop education director Stephen McKinsey, and the resident artists, new printmakers are guided through the step-by-step process of making a print. When it’s all done, the print shop celebrates the #firstprintever with the shops’ social media community.
“I think what makes people keep coming back to Print Club is the enjoyment of the process. They’re doing something with their hands, and they’re creating something. And that’s always exciting,” said Mckinsey.
Print Club first-timers often become print club regulars, and those who have attended a print club can attest to the fact that it isn’t just a print making class, but is rather a congregation of a variety of creative professionals who are interested in the art of printmaking.
“You don’t have to be a printmaker to come to The Print Shop. The point of it all is to make printmaking accessible to everyone in the community; it’s a community space. So everyone is welcome,” said Conrad.
Conrad, Mckinsey and The Print Club are revitalizing a famed Newark art medium while making sure everyone partakes in the process one way or the other.
“I like think that our job here at The Print Club is to seed the city of Newark with printmakers and watch them grow,” said Mckinsey.
The Newark Print Shop is located at 304 University Avenue. FL 2. Open Studio Print Club hours: Wednesdays 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Print club is on hiatus until Wednesday, September 2.
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/print-club-tableau.jpg7261626Ashley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAshley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-08-13 10:36:092015-08-23 22:26:14At Print Club Wednesdays, a printmaking party! Inside the popular weekly event in a University Avenue walk-up
Every Thursday night, Newark burger joint Burger Walla open its doors to Evolve NJ, and the sweet potato tots stop being the only thing drawing Newark residents to this Halsey street spot. That’s because Thursday nights are when Sean Battle, an adjunct professor of English at Essex County College, turns Burger Walla into a space for Evolution Open Mic.
Evolution Open Mic is a multi-layered event, and with the help of his associates — artist and art facilitator Kween Moore, and community advisor Queen Assata — attendees are treated to poetry, musical performances, interactive games and discussions centered on the Newark community and beyond.
“We want people to have a good time at whatever event we host, but we also want it to be of substance. We want people to leave with something that uplifts and enlightens their consciousness,” said Battle.
“Edutainment” is what Battle calls it – a meeting of education and entertainment. “The tagline of Evolve NJ is ‘accountability through artistry,’ so we hope to hold people accountable for their actions in an artistic space, and we hope it carries on to other facets of their lives,” continued Battle.
Take last Thursday for instance. A little after 6 p.m., soft reggae began wafting through the speakers, and the tangy scent of incense replaced the smell of caramelized onions. Participants and guests started flowing in, some just finishing their workdays.
As the room filled up, Battle took the floor and announced that the featured poet of the night would be none other than Newark’s Breya “Blackberry Molassez” Knight. Heads nodded and people exchanged knowing looks. Knight is a Newark poetry scene favorite, and was recently a performer at a tribute show to the late Amiri Baraka.
The theme for the night was “From Tragedy to Triumph” and all the poems followed this lead. Poets reflected on everything from Newark’s resilience as a city to personal triumphs they’ve had to overcome. During a portion of the show that Battle calls “The Nightmare of the Week,” guests debated their love and hate relationship with Newark. Some residents complained about the lack of fresh produce, while others lauded Newark’s authenticity and endurance.
“[Evolution Open Mic] is something our people need. We need something to come to every week where we can release what’s on our mind, relax, enjoy and hear positive vibes,” said Knight.
Battle said that he and his cohort realize that without the broader community there is no art, and that in order to enjoy an art scene, they must first cultivate it. Unlike other open mic shows, everyone who attends Evolution Open Mic winds up a participant in one way or another.
Poets and attendees alike are even urged to contribute to what Battle calls the “canvas of resource,” which is a plain canvas that is set at the end of the room specifically for free range artistic expression. The collation of canvases from past Evolution Open Mic shows will comprise an exhibition during Newark’s annual Open Doors festival in October.
“Life is art. It’s such an influential tool. Art is adding more beauty to the city, and I’m trying my best to do that with my poetry. And so is Sean and Evolve NJ,” concluded Knight.
Evolution Open Mic takes place Thursday nights starting 6 p.m. at Burger Walla, 47 Halsey St. $5 cover plus optional donations. Follow #EVOLVENJ Edutainment on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/evolution-open-mic_newark.jpg490937Ashley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAshley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-08-10 00:01:432015-08-23 22:26:19'Evolution Open Mic' takes poetry nights a step beyond
Newark native Isabel Livingston is bringing high-end, designer fashion to Newark in the form of her store, Closet Savvy Consignment.
The shop, which is located in Newark’s Teachers Village, offers a carefully selected inventory of designer items, including brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Livingston and her daughter, college student Asata Evans, founded the store in 2012 as an online retail business.
“When my daughter was a junior in high school, it became time to consider college. Tuition and costs became very real numbers, and we realized how unprepared we were. So we decided to go into business,” said Livingston.
With the goal to bring an extra $10,000 dollars into her home, Livingston purged her designer-laden closet and began Closet Savvy on a self-hosted website. She embarked on the occasional pop-up shop setup when the opportunity presented itself.
Over $10,000 and 10,000 Instagram followers later, Livingston saw the potential in converting the business into a brick-and-mortar store, and eventually launched the cozy and chic boutique in the new development on the south end of Halsey Street.
Livingston said social media created a built-in audience that has benefited the shop since opening day. “Having the time to have built up that social media following made all the difference,” Livingston said. “Without 10,000 people being able to see my stuff everyday and just opening my door to the world, this could have been a completely different situation for me.”
To be sure, in addition to now being a physical store, Closet Savvy is still a thriving social movement. Livingston’s followers talk about everything from the store’s latest designer products to natural hair trends to pop culture. The social platform has also powered Livingston’s buying reach, with Closet Savvy offering customers the opportunity to purchase products directly from the store’s page for an added shipping fee.
While the social media activity adds dimension to her brand for followers well outside of the city, Livingston says the store itself provides a carefully considered experience for the nearby shoppers who venture in. Walking into the store, it’s clear to see what Livingston is referring to. With a Chanel-embossed drink tray, monogrammed Louis Vuitton trunks stacked against the wall, and Beyoncé blaring from the speakers, Closet Savvy is a dream experience for shoppers in her demographic.
“When you shop with a woman, you’re really on an intimate level. You get to see how she really feels about herself,” Livingston mused. (Closet Savvy also offers a selection of men’s apparel.)
“Women come in here as total strangers, and by the time they leave, we’ve bonded. They leave here promising to come back, and you can’t get that online. People come here, and it really is an authentic experience.”
Closet Savvy is located at 35 Maiden Lane, just off Halsey Street in downtown Newark. The shop is open from Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Shop online here, and visit their thriving Instagram community @ClosetSavvyConsignment.
Images courtesy Closet Saavy Consignment.
https://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/closet-savvy_isabel-livingston.jpg7641517Ashley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.comhttps://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Brick-City-Live-Logo-White-Red.pngAshley Okwuosa | Arts, Culture & Scene Contributor | BrickCityLive.com2015-08-07 08:21:542015-08-23 22:26:59Isabel Livingston: The 'savvy' behind Closet Savvy Consignment in Newark's Teacher's Village