744 Show 2007
Last Sunday, the available-space part of the Newark Arts Council's Sixth Annual Artists' Studio and Available Space Tour took place on the sixth floor of the National Newark Building, 744 Broad Street. Oddly, last year's big group show was on the same floor of the same building. Is it the same space, still unoccupied after a full year? That would be depressing. Let's hope NAC has to find another place for the big show next year because the sixth floor of 744 will be occupied by a paying business.
Last year I regretted not having taken a picture of the elegant brass doors to the elevator, so this year I endeavored to fotograf one. Easier said than done, given the inadequacy of the existing lite and the reflective nature of the metal. I stepped off to the side, which reduced but did not eliminate the glare from the flash.
When I got to 6, I saw no diagram of the space, with numbers for the specific works keyed to an index. Nor did I see plaques by works to identify the artists, and a review of my fotos doesn't reveal any. So I can offer very little information about specific works. They will have to speak for themselves. Perhaps the organizers just didn't have everything ready at the opening of the show but will have identifying cards in place for the bulk of the run (thru December 9th).
The ship in the foto above reminds me of the cluster of three agglomerative sculptures at the NJIT show (fifth picture). This next foto shows a rectangular hanging pavilion of sorts made from white rosaries.
There were some political works, but not as many as one might have expected in a time of war. Some social observers have commented that altho the war causes people concern, it doesn't really make much of an impact on them. This is a very different situation from the Vietnam era, when avoiding the war was not as easy as simply changing channels. Protest was everywhere, whether you wanted to see it or not.
In Florida Crane met Cora Stewart-Taylor (July 12, 1865 - Sep 4, 1910), the proprietress of a Jacksonville brothel, the Hotel de Dream. In 1897 or 1898 they were married.
The exhibit occupied several interconnected rooms, but there was one very large room across an architectural gap from the main display that had nothing in it. I found that odd. You could look out the windows from that empty space across open air to the windows of the main display area.
Throughout his career James has met and/or performed with T.S. Monk, Herbie Hancock, Roberta Flack, Wynton Marsalis, Terrence Blanchard, Jon Faddis, George Benson, David 'Pic' Conley of Surface, Cecil Brooks III, John Lee, and many other great musicians and personalities.Born in Newark, Gibbs now lives in Irvington (which I'd like Newark to annex). He has a very snazzy website, but did not reply to my email request for the names of the other members of his group. I posted an almost 5-minute video of part of the performance of a slitely reduced group (the keyboardist had another gig in the latter part of the evening, so had to go) on Blip.tv. The sound, as picked up by my tiny camera, is a bit tinny. If the graphical player below does not work, you can nonetheless get to the video via the link above.
This is the view from behind the band looking toward the portion of exhibition attendees in the food and drink area at that point in the evening.
When the band finished/took a break, a very peculiar performance-art couple, one male (but verging on transvestite), the other female, performed a very peculiar mini-drama apparently based on horrendous news reports of crazed women cutting open the belly of pregnant women to steal their baby. Except here the knife-wielding man, in abstract costume that covered his head, pulled out a stuffed animal rather than baby. Bizarre. I'll say no more than that this is the second performance-art piece I saw that weekend that escaped me.
There was at least one video, running in a side booth in the show. I didn't watch much, since it seemed from what I did see to be thematically dark, perhaps to tie in to Halloween, then soon to arrive.
More to my taste visually was this group of chiaroscuro paintings/fotos(?) that showed people in various postures of distress, but theatrically. The works seemed to me like distillations of opera angst.
While wandering about, I saw a few people I know: Evonne Davis, co-owner of Gallery Aferro; Matt Gosser (curator of the NJIT show the nite before); Rupert Ravens (host of the gallery opening Friday); the bartender from the Ravens gallery who sympathized with me over my fender-bender; and Patrick Doyle, the artist from Rochester whose spherical sculptures I liked. I asked Patrick if his hat was Chinese, Vietnamese, what? He said it was actually from West(?) Africa.
I noticed that Patrick was wearing his small Sphericity-style globe around his neck, but it looked a little different from the first time I saw it. Here's what it looked like against a lite shirt, at Rupert's gallery Friday.
At that time, I thought it was solid. But when I saw it against a darker shirt at 744 on Sunday, it looked hollow. I said I wanted to take another picture and Patrick asked if I had a macro setting on my camera. I do, and the camera has a built-in guide as to how to get to various features, so I was able to use macro to get closer in the foto below than in the foto above.
The sphere is hollow. I asked if he sells them and he said that it's one of a kind now, tho he might make others later. He said there is a product called "silver clay" developed in Japan for use in making jewelry. Particles of silver are suspended in a malleable material that burns off during firing in a kiln. The resulting object shrinks somewhat but has the fine luster of his globe. Inside that globe is a piece of colored glass that the heat formed into an irregular shape. Like his pendant, Patrick is one of a kind. (And yes, Patrick, that is a good thing.)
I asked Rupert if he had anything in the 744 show and he said no, a tad emphatically. I followed up, 'So you're only showing at your own gallery now', which he confirmed. Understandable.
I looked out the windows to see if the view of the top of 1180 from that vantage point was fotoworthy, but couldn't see it at all. Too close.
I don't know the point of this next work, a bunch of vinyl records with hair suspended from the spindle holes. But somehow it reminded me that my parents had some one-sided records, that is, there was a recorded surface (whatever that might have been made of in those days) on only one side but paper or cardboard on the "flip" side. I thought they were from World War II and due to materials shortages, but I see from a couple of items on the Internet that they might just have been very early recordings, before the public demanded two-sided records.
Not far from that piece was the completed drawing that the guy with the ladder had started earlier. It's a political cartoon.
Other pieces are more pretty than strident.
I've saved the best for last. Taste is, of course, highly variable, but of all the pieces I saw at 744 (and I may have missed a few or hurried past some that deserved more attention), my favorite is this big blue two-dimensional thing in the midst of some three-dimensional origami-style sculptures. I call the blue work a "thing" because I'm not sure what it is. The surface is glossy, smooth, and flat, but when you're close, it looks as tho it holds hundreds of little origamis embedded in blue plexiglass. It's very striking, but was too big for me to fotograf whole and unobstructed. You have to see it to get a sense of how brilliant and deep it is. It's plainly not a hologram but might almost as well be.
As I headed out, I took a foto of the glorious brass mailbox in the lobby, having to cope with the same problem with flash as with the elevator door, above.
744 is Newark's tallest building, but as you can see from the elevator doorways and this mailbox, it is no stripped-down, speculative office tower. It was built expressly for the National Newark & Essex Banking Co., which wanted quality to attach to its name, and quality is what they got.
When I hit the sidewalk, I saw that the wind was lifting the flag on the Liberty Pole at the southern tip of Military Park, so I tried again to get a picture of the flag flying high between 1180 and 744.
The "Red Badge of Courage" show runs thru December 9th, on the sixth floor of 744 Broad Street in Downtown Newark. I might, before it closes, check back to see if I missed anything; to see who the artist is who created that blue thing; and to see if it really does have depth or just appears to. Shiny.