Visual Artists Step Into the Spotlight as NJPAC Launches Partnership With Gallery Aferro
Newark-bound art lovers with an appetite for innovative exhibits are invited to savor Raw Umber, the inaugural art exhibit of a new partnership between Newark's Gallery Aferro and NJPAC. Through this collaboration, Gallery Aferro will curate a rotating series of group shows in the dining rooms of NICO Kitchen + Bar, NJPAC's upscale in-house restaurant.The new partnership between the Arts Center and Gallery Aferro, located in Newark's downtown at 73 Market Street, launches with the October 12, 2pm, opening of Raw Umber, an exhibition of 14 works. (The reception is free and open to the public as part of the Newark Arts Festival, although registration on the NJPAC website is recommended.) The exhibit's name refers to the family of colors derived from naturally occurring pigments in the earth: rich dark-brown tones, yellows, fiery oranges and reds. This inaugural exhibition will be on view through March 3, 2020 during regular hours at the restaurant on the NJPAC campus at One Center Street. NICO Kitchen + Bar's up-tempo ambiance and contemporary setting provide the perfect surroundings for satellite exhibits, according to NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber. "As a mainstay in the city for the past 16 years, Gallery Aferro has provided a showcase for fine art and has championed scores of artists who call Newark home," Schreiber said. "We saw this collaboration as a unique opportunity to acknowledge the gallery's longstanding and venerable role as an advocate for Newark's arts and culture." The multimedia pieces on display for this and future exhibits will be curated by Gallery Aferro, which was founded in 2003 and is run by artists Evonne M. Davis and Emma Wilcox. Artwork is also available for purchase. "I've always enjoyed having conversations with John Schreiber. We lead and run two very differently-scaled arts organizations in the same community, but there's a lot of overlap in our circles. "It felt natural that Gallery Aferro could work with NJPAC, and we just started talking about ways of sharing the vitality of Newark's art scene and the energy, the prolific energy, that comes out of our artist residencies," said Wilcox. Most artists participating in Raw Umber have collaborated with Gallery Aferro in the past or are among the more than 100 alumni of the gallery's decade-long artist residency program. Among them are:
Marsha Goldberg, a current artist in residence at Gallery Aferro, whose work is exquisitely sensitive to the atmospheric shifts of light, shadow and air that define our experience of the world.
Anne Q. McKeown, a master papermaker and longtime resident at Gallery Aferro, who works with painting, printmaking, papermaking and wire drawings to make and take apart systems using color, chance and intuition. McKeown's artworks included in Raw Umber are works on Ugandan bark cloth hand-pounded from fibers, visualizing a visceral tie to the earth.
Gladys Barker Grauer, known as the "Mother of Newark Arts," who passed away earlier this year. Her piece in this exhibit is a hypnotic self-portrait that features a subtle spider web motif.
Ibrahim Ahmed iii, an Aferro artist in residence in 2013, who now resides in Cairo. Included in the exhibit is his dramatically scaled portrait, completed before he left Newark.
L. Gluck of St. Thomas is represented with a deceptively simple early 1960's watercolor.
"We wanted to select art that would glow," said Wilcox. "These pieces share a luscious palette of strong tones, and there's some very intense portraiture. This is art that will stare back at you."
These pieces are joined by works by Reginald K. Gee, Stephen Flemister, Floyd Newsom Jr, and E. J. Montgomery from the collection of Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, which reveals Newark's cultural connections to multiple generations of important artists of color.
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Photo Credit 1: Ibrahim Ahmed iii