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Newark USA

A fotojournal about LIVING in Newark USA, New Jersey's largest and most cultured city, by the author of the foto-essay website RESURGENCE CITY: Newark USA.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Riverfront Events, Free Museums, and Reflections on Newark's Brilliant Future

Very long post, almost 3,700 words, with 23 illustrations.

Bigger Sky Country. This foto of the newly completed annex to Prudential Financial's World Headquarters in Downtown Newark, shows clouds in the sky reflected from the structure's mirror-glass walls, almost as tho there was no building there, but you could see the sky beyond rather than the sky in front.

Most of today's post is composed of two parts, the text of a long email alert from Newark Riverfront Revival about events along the Passaic, in which are interspersed fotos of the newly opened annex to the Prudential Financial World HQ on Broad Street at West Park Street. The main building, 20 stories tall, comprises the bulk of the complex. It runs from West Park to New Street along Broad Street and over to Halsey. But there are several other, much lower buildings south of West Park to Cedar Street, in the full block between Broad and Halsey, set beyond wonderful, dignified plantings on West Park.

Two Hahne's Buildings, the real one on the left, north of New Street, and its reflection in the windows of NuPru.

The main NuPru building is clad in mirror glass, which shows how beautiful the entire area around the NuPru complex is. Can anyone walk around this complex and NOT be optimistic that Newark has entered a very brite future? There have been other steps along the path to this brite future, from the building of Prudential Plaza, the HQ to which NuPru, two blocks to the north, is annex; the PSE&G Building, an earlier mirror-glass office tower; Gateway Center; NJPAC; Teachers Village; and various conversions of old office and commercial buildings into apartments. But this complex is so big and so gorgeous (for the things it reflects even more than for the structure itself) that it should pin the naysayers to the mat, begging for mercy, "OK! I give! Newark is back."

Part of the National Newark Building reflected in NuPru's Broad Street windows. Prudential could have built Newark's tallest building rather than this 20-story but massive structure. The actual byilding is a double tower. If instead of being side-by-side, Prudential had put one of those towers atop the other, the combined tower would have become the city's tallest. The dual-tower design left National Newark / 744 [Broad Street] the city's tallest.

This is also the first full weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of the month, so Bank of America's "Museums on Us" program is in force, by which holders of BofA credit and debit cards can gain free admission to over 150 museums all over the country, including many in New Jersey, and New York City and State. In Newark, participating institutions are the Newark Museum (both Saturday and Sunday) and Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art (Saturday only). For more info about this program, see BofA's Museums on Us webpage. If you'd like to receive an email notice each month shortly before the event, you can sign up at that website.

Military Park Building brokenly reflected in NuPru's Broad Street windows.

Bank of America is now charging me and many others $25/month for what had for many years been free checking, so perhaps I should make a point of using this museum benefit while I investigate if there is a better place for me to bank. My main concern is access to my account history (check payments, etc.). If I can download that information and put it into a secure location, at home, "in the cloud", or both, then I will leave Bank of America. BofA has received BILLIONS of dollars of benefits from taxpayers, and has been raking in many billions in profits for years, but now it needs to charge for what has long been free? I don't believe it. BofA is one of those mega-banks that government permitted to become "too big to fail". Part of that growth was in taking over failing financial institutions, such as Countrywide mortgage and Merrill Lynch, as a sort of favor to Government regulators, who expedited the process. Is Bank of America finding that it can't make such acquisitions profitable any more than the management of those entities as separate companies could?

Part of the Robert Treat Hotel reflected in NuPru's Broad Street windows.

In any case, I should check the Morris Museum in Morristown to see what its current exhibits are, and see if there is any free parking at or near the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. Is that a children's museum, or would adults find its offerings of interest too? The No. 1 bus, which runs along 18th Avenue past my block, goes all the way to Journal Square, but I don't know how to get from Journal Square to the LSC.

View of Downtown from reopened West Park Street at the corner of Halsey Street.

Passaic Riverfront Events. I present below most of the text of an email from Newark Riverfront Revival regarding events, mainly this weekend, at Newark's eastern edge. I live near the western edge of the city, so don't spend much time in the Passaic River part of town. I like the idea of kayaking on the River, which is not this week but next, so will need to decide if I want to try that. My family used to have a (wooden) canoe on the small lake (Shadow Lake) behind our house in Middletown Township, Monmouth County, and I loved it. We used to turn the canoe upside down, capturing a breathing space surrounded by water. The dancing lite that flowed thru refraction of the sun's rays by the moving water into that breathing space was nearly magical. I have never been in a kayak, however, and I imagine the organizers of that event would frown on people's deliberately turning a kayak upside down on the River.

Zoomed-in detail of wider view of reopened West Park Street in the foto above, showing the almost invisible line between the NuPru reflective windows on the left and the actual Military Park building on the right.

You can view that email, with illustrations, online.

Reflections of 744 Broad Street, 1180 Raymond Boulevard, and the PSE&G Building in NuPru's West Park Street windows.
Ready for the weekend Newark? It's going to be another hot one, so come on down to the River, and enjoy the breeze at Riverfront Park.

Reflections of 744 Broad Street and 1180 Raymond Boulevard. The sleek, mirror-glass façade of Newark's most recently completed skyscraper (late June 2015) reflects and thus relates to and confirms rather than conflicts with Newark's brilliant past. It literally doubles the impressive beauty of those parts of Newark that you can see side-by-side, the original and the reflection, undiminished in intensity but in reverse. It's almost like a parallel, but flipped, universe, old Newark and new side-by-side, reinforcing each other as we march into a future we must hope will be as brilliant and beautiful in substance as these pictures show today to be. (In case you wonder if we can call NuPru, at 20 stories, a "skyscraper", Wikipedia defines "skyscraper" as "a tall, continuously habitable building of over 14 floors, mostly designed for office, commercial and residential uses". Wikipedia says that "skyscraper" most commonly applies to buildings over 150 meters (492 feet) — even I learn things in writing this blog — so some people would prefer "highrise" for a 20-story structure. But remember the wonder of the observer in the song "Kansas City" in the musical Oklahoma!:
Everything's up to date in Kansas City
They gone about as fer as they can go
They went an' built a skyscraper seven stories high
About as high as a buildin' orta grow.

One of the low buildings of the NuPru complex, at Halsey and West Park Streets.

Friday, July 31st from 7-9pm is Cobblestone Multimedia Music Night at the Orange Sticks featuring hip-hop, R&B, jazz and soul with performances by Young Bonez, Robbie Newell, Sah-B and Lady Rose with DJ APlus & DJ KD.

Don't forget your blankets and chairs!

This foto of the reflections visible from the very corner of the Prudential Annex at Halsey Street shows part of the Halsey Street buildings opposite, but has lost 744.

Why is only black music featured? Where is the country music, easy listening, pop, folk, rock, metal, Broadway, Alternative, and other genres — heck, even Italian opera, given Newark's large Italian population — that white people might prefer? In Friday's Music Nite, not even salsa, merengue, and mariachi music from Hispanic America, fado from Portugal, and bossa nova, samba, and other types of music from Brazil are featured. Newark is just barely majority-black now, and if we want to bring suburbanites into the city to share experiences that could promote good feelings between city and suburb, our musical celebrations must be more inclusive. Indeed, there are even genres of black music not included in that Music Nite, such as spirituals and gospel. Given that Newark's Prudential Center hosts each year's McDonald's Gospelfest, this seems to me a significant oversight.

Reflections vie with internal fluorescent lites.
[Quick Culture Meetup.]
Meet new people & explore topics of interest for entrepreneurs, creatives & intellectuals with our first Riverfront Quick Culture Meetup at #Newark#RiverfrontPark this Saturday, August 1st from 2:30-5pm hosted by #GalleryRetail at the Orange Sticks.

Close view of elegant plantings, including massed decorative grasses, on south side of West Park Street, within the NuPru complex.
Grupo Folklorico "KEMA"
Music of South and Central America
Saturday, August 1st
"Nights of Music & Dance"
Sponsored by:
SPARK friends of Riverbank Park

Riverbank Park is ADA accessible. ...
SPARK Friends of Riverbank Park
P. O. Box 5942
Newark, NJ 07105

1180 and 744 seen beyond refined plantings and a low building within the NuPru complex.
[Family Movie Nite] Save the Date!
Friday, August 7th is Family Movie Night in The Meadow at Riverfront Park featuring BIG HERO 6 at 8pm.

This ... event is sponsored by Friends of Riverfront Park and Newark Office of Film + Television.

1180, 744, low building and refined plantings within NuPru complex, as seen from reopened West Park Street.
[Newark Paddle Days]

Reserve Your Spot Now!
Saturday, August 8th will be our last FREE public Paddle Day at 10am!

Reserve your spot now and kayak on the Newark Passaic River with Hackensack Riverkeeper. Must be 18 [or] over.

Robert Treat Hotel reflected in main entrance to NuPru, which bears the number 655 Broad Street.
[Dance Stories on the River]

Save the Date!
We are thrilled to be presenting Newark Riverfront Revival's first dance production[,] "Dance Stories on the River featuring Storyboard P"[,] at Newark Riverfront Park on Saturday, August 15th from 5-8pm at the Orange Sticks in association with Newark based Dance Mogul Magazine.

Magnificent time-lapse video of the construction of the NuPru building, being displayed, very large, in the lobby of the newly opened structure.
Featured on the bill are world class entertainers including Newark's own tap genius Maurice Chestnut (work featured on Broadway and in movies like Happy Feet), a performance by Mystic India, a Bollywood style group that will be performing at NJPAC, Zest Collective, a contemporary dance troupe with an urban flair, and Storyboard P, an internationally renowned street dancer who was recently named "Outstanding Choreographer of 2015" by The Bessie Award committee (look for him in Jay-Z's Picasso Baby and Flying Lotus' Until the Quiet Comes).

Hope to see you down by the river!

Second view of wonderful time-lapse video. I walked into the lobby for a closer, in-person look at that great video (I had seen, online, a similar time-lapse video of the construction of the Prudential Center over the course of three years, which is still online. There are other Newark videos that will, unless stopped, appear after the Arena video on YouTube, that you might like to check out. With both time-lapse videos, I thought about where the camera had to have been stationed. In the case of the Arena images, I guess the camera would have been somewhere near the roof of the National State Bank building (the fine Cass Gilbert edifice that is now the Indigo Hotel). In the case of the NuPru video, the camera would probably have to be atop the (former, and still-derelict) Griffith Building. I asked the woman at the reception/security desk if the time-lapse video is online somewhere. She didn't know but suggested I check the company's website, Prudential.com. I saw no information about the video, nor even a general-inquiry email address by means of which I might ask. Every website's "Contact Us" page should show a general email address for matters not covered in other listings, but the Prudential's "Contact Us" area does not. That is a major shortcoming, that tells the world that Prudential doesn't want to hear from you unless you are a customer.
Newark Riverfront Revival (NRR) aims to connect every Newarker to their river. Since 2008, NRR has organized for Newark’s riverfront by taking hundreds of people on boat and walking tours, hosting dozens of outreach events, organizing design education programs for youth, and staging a City Hall exhibition. Since 2012, NRR has worked with Essex County, the City of Newark, The Trust for Public Land, Ironbound Community Corporation, and other partners to build and program over 15 acres of riverfront parks, including a walking and biking trail, sports fields and courts, floating boat dock, riverfront boardwalk, playground and other settings for relaxation, picnics, exercise, and environmental education.
* * * Learn more about Riverfront Park, Newark Riverfront Revival, Friends of the Riverfront and our partners by visiting our website at newarkriverfront.org,and signing up for our email list, following on Twitter, and Instagram @NewarkRiverfront, liking on Facebook & talking with your friends & neighbors about our river.

View north on Halsey Street, with 33 Washington Street (the office tower with white vertical piers) and 15 Washington (the ornate pinnacle that rises higher than the roof of 33).
* * * If you got this message as a share [that is, for this purpose, if you saw this info only in this blog] and want to add your email address to our list [the Ironbound Super Neighborhood's list, which incorporated the Newark Riverfront Revival email], use the link on our web page:


Newly planted tree, fancy streetlites, and reflection of PSE&g Building at NuPru. Alas, not all the trees planted outside NuPru survived, for whatever reason, be it our recent semi-drought or any other cause. A couple of hundred feet farther down West Park Street toward Broad, a tree that might have grown well for 12 years theretofore died once planted in a place intended for it to grow for decades. Every time I see such failed transplants, I am saddened.

Newark's resurgence is the product of the separate activities of organizations such as those mentioned above, Unified Vailsburg Services Organization, New Community Corporation, the Newark Arts Council, and the Newark Downtown District; plus the educational activities of the colleges of CHEN (the Council of Higher Education in Newark), Berkeley College, and our great public schools, such as Arts High and Science Park High School (among others); plus the courageous decision of companies such as PSE&G and Newark's nearly saintly world-spanning mega-corporation, Prudential Financial, to stay in Newark and work for its renaissance; plus the efforts of City, County, and State governments to promote synergy.

Steeple of St. Patrick's Pro Cathedral and intervening low apartment buildings as reflected in the west-facing windows of the NuPru building.

There's a ferocious tenacity in the people to whom Newark is much more than just the burg they happen to live in. It's beyond pride, beyond defensive reaction and self-justification as tho responding to criticism. Something about Newark inspires fierce dedication — and, when people have felt forced to flee in The Bad Old Days, their conversion into vicious slanderers and "haters" of the city they used to love is a perverse proof of how important the city is to them, still.

Stairway To Heaven? Late-afternoon shadows from a building west of Halsey Street seem to form a stairway up the side of the low building at the southwestern corner of the NuPru complex.

Many of the people who left Newark for the 'burbs, and even farther afield, are now decades older, but still miss Newark. They really have little reason to stay in the empty nest their children left, but are free to come home to Newark, even to live Downtown, a place where you can walk to fine restaurants, art galleries, a major museum and public library, a performing arts center of distinction, and an arena among the busiest on the planet to see sporting events and concerts. Why not? In the immortal words of The Beverly Hillbillies, "Y'all come back now, hear?"

This screenprint of the "About Us" page on the Prudential.com website shows that Prudential Financial is forthrite in telling the world that it is headquartered in Newark. Terrific.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

'Seated Lincoln' — Details

In late April I ventured to the grounds of the Old (or "Historic") Essex County Courthouse by "starchitect" Cass Gilbert to take pictures of the bronze statue, "Seated Lincoln", by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore. Why April? Because that's when the magnolias around the statue are in bloom. I actually got there after peak bloom, but that might not be obvious from the fotos.

While I was there, I decided to take some closeup shots (perhaps "shots" isn't the best word to use in connection with Lincoln) to show some of the details of that statue, which is perhaps 1½ times life-size. The first detail is the artist's signature on the bench on which Lincoln is "Seated". The foto above shows the context. This next foto shows the signature in, I hope, more legible form.

Douglas J. Gladstone, author of a book about the Italian immigrant who served as chief carver on Mount Rushmore and also worked on Borglum's monumental "Wars of America" sculpture in Military Park, contacted me some months ago to ask if I'd be interested in running a "guest column" about that carver, Luigi Del Bianco. Gladstone had earlier sent me a press release about his book, Carving a Niche for Himself; The Untold Story of Luigi Del Bianco and Mount Rushmore (Bordighera Press).

This and the next three fotos show "Wars of America", Borglum's largest sculpture in bronze and one of four Borglum works in Newark.

Tho I do not publish guest columns or guest posts in this blog, I can certainly quote from texts sent to me. Gladstone's proposed column deals with what he regards as an injustice done to Del Bianco.
In [a letter by Borglum in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress], dated July 30, 1935, Borglum specifically refers to him as the chief carver.

But that’s not enough to satisfy the folks at the National Parks Service (NPS), which is a branch of the United States Department of the Interior.

"I have seen the letter in which Borglum refers to Del Bianco as chief carver," Maureen McGee Ballinger, of the NPS, reportedly said recently. "But I consider Gutzon Borglum the chief carver."

Huh? How is she entitled to discount Borglum's own words? And why would she do that? Gladstone continues:
The policy of the Parks Service is that all 400 individuals who worked at the monument from 1927 through 1941 receive the same credit, irrespective of their jobs. While that's very egalitarian, it also presupposes that the man who ran the elevator lift was as important as Del Bianco. * * *

Ballinger is making a completely arbitrary and capricious decision as to the reason the agency is not recognizing Del Bianco as the chief carver.
It certainly sounds that way, if Gladstone has presented the case accurately.

I have been to Mount Rushmore. "Wonderful" doesn't cover it. "Wars of America" is less wonderful for being less monumental in scale, but is nonetheless a remarkable sculpture.

Let me return now to more closeup views of Borglum's second-largest sculpture in Newark. As this banner near the statue points out, "Seated Lincoln" has been in Newark for 104 years.

This foto shows most of the statue from up close.

The next foto shows both hands.

And this one shows only his right hand, on the bench.

I liked the treatment of his clothing. You might almost expect it to be soft and yielding rather than hard metal.

The next two fotos show Lincoln's right profile from slitely different angles. In reviewing these pix, I noticed an open collar. I had assumed that the President was wearing a tie, but it doesn't seem so. Next time I'm there, I'll look more carefully.

I have to wonder if Borglum worked from fotos of Lincoln taken from all sides or if there's some guesswork in his portrayal of the President.

The last foto I show today is of Lincoln's left profile, against magnolias in the background.

"Seated Lincoln" is a fine and important statue. And it's in Newark.

Friday, July 24, 2015

'... and the Living Is Easy'

Long post, almost 1,800 words, with 19 fotos. Note: Dates of posts are the date FOR which each is intended, not WHEN each is uploaded.

It's summertime, as the song says, and, more specifically, the "dog days", which are too hot for many of us to do much but take it easy. I did attend the opening reception of the "Graffiti" art show at City Without Walls Gallery a week ago (Friday, July 17th) and both marched in the Gay Pride Parade and walked around the Pride Fest in Washington Park on Sunday, July 19th.

As we rounded the corner from Halsey Street onto Crawford Street, we saw a lot of people standing outside the entrance, far more than the few foolish people who still smoke so are banished from interior spaces. It turns out that to the right of the gallery entrance, an artist was creating a graffiti artwork, and to the left, people were signing their names or leaving comments, or something, on a large white board.

Today, I discuss the cWOW reception a week ago. I showed two pix from that event last Friday, at the end of a very long post. The exhibition is described at the cWOW website. Here, hopefully readable, is a statement that appeared within the gallery.

My friend Jerry came in from Manhattan to accompany me to the show, and serve as my food critic for the refreshments, since my fake teeth are for cosmetic purposes only, and I cannot eat in public. He said the food was better this time than the last reception he had attended there. I generally only have some wine after I've made the rounds of the artworks and taken my pix. But by the time I was done with what I had to do, there was no white wine left, only red, so I passed.

I was a little surprised that I liked a lot of the art in this show. I was expecting what most of us think of when we hear the word "graffiti": "tags" in letters and numbers, and little else. There was some of that but relatively little, as you can see from my fotos.

While I was lining up the foto below, an artist I met some years ago came out of the side room in which a video was playing, saw me, and said that we had met before. I asked his name. Serron (which is stressed on the second syllable). He wasn't surprised that I didn't recognize him because he had cut his beard. Yes, indeed, we had met at least twice before, and he consented to pose by one of his works at a show during a February 2013 art show opening reception at Essex County College, even tho he generally avoids being fotograffed by his works. That foto is the seventh in my post of March 3, 2013. He also appears in the third foto in that post, but not by his artworks. (I think the two works shown just below, this foto of which I was lining up when Serron said hello, are both his.)

Naturally I asked if he'd be willing to be shown by his favorite work (of his) in the show, and he was amused that he found himself consenting. He knew where he wanted to stand, between two different works on the wall not far from the entrance.

I asked why there were (artificial) roses around the frame of the larger piece, and he explained that it was a memorial tribute to Jay Hazelwood, a Newarker who died in June at, I think Serron said, age 42 (the Star-Ledger obit says 43). When I asked what he died from at so early an age, Serron said he was a victim of crime, an all too common cause of early death in parts of this city, and others all around the Nation (and world; there is nothing unique to Newark or the U.S. about crime).

I was not immediately able to discern mention of Jay Hazelwood in the show's opening graffic, above. I still can't make out much but "Hazelwood". My foto of Serron does not include quite all of the piece on the right, because I had to stand directly facing him, and there was a partition behind me that kept me from backing up far enuf. But earlier, before I knew those were Serron's works and that I would be showing him standing between them, I was able to get both works in one foto by taking the picture from off to the side, then using the Perspective Correction Tool in my graffics program to straighten them out.

This next picture shows the video about graffiti art that was playing in the side room that Serron emerged from. If you go to this show, don't forget to check behind the heavy black drapes for the video presentation.

The foto below shows the area farthest from the gallery entrance if you walk along the walls. If you think you see a familiar face from the original Star Trek TV series in the middle of the artworks in that foto, you're right.

I can't read the writing on it, but the mere inclusion of that picture not long after Leonard Nimoy's death on February 27th seemed to me strangely touching, even comforting.

There were some pieces in the exhibition specific to New Jersey generally and Newark in particular, as is surely appropriate.

In addition to the work shown above, there were some NJ license plates and a bus sign for the #72 to Newark Penn Station, but my fotos of that group didn't turn out right.

The show engaged visitors, perhaps more than the typical art exhibition, as indicated by the fotos above and below.

The piece below is abstract, but you might, as I do, espy a face in the middle.

Now for a real face, that of James Wilson, who curated this exhibition. I mentioned to him that this would be the third time I've shown him in my blog. The first portrait appeared as the 37th (no joke) foto in my post of March 13, 2013, by his sketches in the exhibition "Newark Art and Artists" in the Newark Public Library. The second was in my discussion of ArtReach XXII at cWOW in which he served as mentor (ninth foto). He had been one of the teen artists paired with a mentor in the very first ArtReach program, so was "paying forward" the boost that that gave to his artistic career. The foto below is the third. He was aware of that.

Altho James posed by two of his own works, I remarked on his serving as curator for the entire show. 'You decided where every piece should go, near other works that seemed appropriate?' I said he did a good job, so he might have a future in curating more than just creating his own works. In this next group of four artworks, only two seem plainly of a graffiti type.

The exhibition drew a good crowd.

The last piece I show today is a full-size leather jacket with a cartoony four-fingered hand poking out below some graffiti-style writing.

The Graffiti show runs till 6:00pm Saturday, August 8th, 2015 at 6 Crawford Street, Newark, NJ 07102-2412. Fone: (973) 622-1188. Fax: (973) 622-2941. Website: cwow.org. Gallery hours are Wednesdays-Saturdays, Noon-6 p.m. and by appointment. (If cWOW would like the name/s of the artist/s in every foto to appear in the caption, I will need them to supply that information, keyed clearly to the specific foto.)