After a while, a young Oriental man came out and introduced himself. He had looked at the guestbook and thought he recognized the name. Edwin Ramoran, he was. Director of Exhibitions and Programs. I asked him what kind of name "Ramoran" is, and when he said Filipino, I told him that I have a sister-in-law and former sister-in-law both from the Philippines. I did not mention that I am the only one in my family who has not (yet) made it to the Philippines. Nor did I mention that I once had a half-Filipino/half-Jewish boyfriend for 6 or 8 weeks.
Now in its 10th year, the Aljira Emerge program has provided more than 250 artists opportunities to develop career management skills and to show their work with a group exhibition and fully illustrated catalog. The program exemplies Aljira's longstanding commitment to advancing the careers of underrepresented and emerging artists.
Aljira's website explains the Emerge program, whose tenth exhibition is the one now on view.
Aljira Emerge is a strategic career management and exhibition program designed to provide artists with the resources to overcome obstacles, focus on goals, and move forward in their creative careers. Participants learn to challenge the assumptions about working artists that keep them from succeeding. Emerge addresses practical areas of concern to artists including curatorial practice, legal and financial issues, gallery representation, exhibitions, public art opportunities, and marketing. Emerge culminates with a group exhibition and fully illustrated catalog.
Since 1999, Aljira Emerge has supported emerging and mid-career artists living and working in and around the New Jersey/New York metropolitan region [oh, I like that: NJ first] to organize, plan, and sustain their careers. Professional Development Workshops are led by seasoned artists and professional coaches ... who guide artists in developing a personal strategic plan and managing a career as arts professionals. * * *
Maybe it's just me, but I see Tweety Bird in this, tho Tweety's eyes are blue. So maybe this is some cartoon kid, with blue hair. (And I thought only old ladies had blue hair.) Whatever the cartoon characters may be (in the paired painting above, perhaps even one of the odd ladies of Les Triplettes de Belleville), the associations seem cheerful, happy, rather than grim.
The program meets bi-weekly on Saturdays from April to June and alternates Professional Development Workshops at Aljira and Talks at off-site locations.
The application process is competitive and the class is limited to 22 artists. Please, see guidelines for eligibility and application process. If accepted to the program you will be asked to pay only 5% of the estimated cost of this program, or $350, as an investment in your career and a commitment to the program. We welcome all eligible artists to apply. Limited, additional need-based financial assistance is available.
Roxana Perez-Mendez's Mi y Mi Gente. Look carefully to see the ghostlike video-projection figures (presumably) of illegal aliens jumping down from the back of the truck, as reflected in the mirror.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a CD in the press kit that included 9 images with ID's. Curiously, the text checklist of those images on that same CD did not have a filename extension, such as .DOC, .RTF, or .PDF. Double-clicking on it produced a request to choose a program to open it, and Adobe Reader, my first guess, didn't work. WordPerfect, however, did. Also, the De Carvalho work on disk did not include the wires — to me, the most striking feature — of the finished work as shown in the second foto of today's blogpost.
This poster (which I think is Nyeema Morgan's Elemental Configurations), shows another type of alien, among Earth-origin people.
Edwin explained to me that despite a name that suggests an Arabic origin (Al-Jazeera comes to my mind), "Aljira" is pronounced with a long-I, not long-E (aal.jíe.ra; note that if everyone used my Fanetik system, everyone would know that "Aljira" has a long-I, not long-E — as well as the pronunciation of every single word in the English language, including newly coined words). It comes from an Australian aboriginal word meaning "dreamtime". (By the way, I'm a little surprised that black Americans seem to feel no connection whatsoever to Australian aborigines nor Melanesians in places like Papua New Guinea.)
Twenty years ago, artist Victor L. Davson and Carl E. Hazlewood envisioned Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art as a place, which would embody the essence of its etymological roots. By selecting the name Aljira, the Australian Aboriginal word for dreamtime, the founders defined the heart of Aljira’s mission, a mission that embraces the concepts of timelessness and open possibilities—ideas inherent in the creative process.
This closer view of the poster above suggests that all or almost all of the little fotos are of black characters/actors in the various shows of the "Star Trek" franchise.
Aljira continues to be open to possibilities and plays an integral role in the professional life of many artists. Our work began on the fourth floor of a building with no elevator, no air conditioning, and no direct access to the street. We have made progress, and our move to 591 Broad Street has positioned us to open our doors and take our campaign for contemporary art to the street.
Here's the view of the street from inside Aljira. Note the symbolic but not real canopy of blue steel beams jutting out from the building façade.
I looked at my watch and saw that it was 4:15, past the normal closing time for Aljira on a Saturday, but Edwin didn't seem to mind. In the course of our conversation I discovered that he is another of those people in Newark arts who live in NYC, he in Harlem. I suggested it would be a lot easier to live in Newark if he's going to work in Newark, and he said he has a very nice apartment with a lot of space in a nice area of West Harlem near City College (which I graduated from), so is loath to move. I told him that it took me 12 minutes to get from my house to Aljira (on a Saturday). But it only takes him around an hour, or a bit more, to get here from Harlem by public transportation. That is the good and bad of Newark's closeness to NY. I tried to lure him with thoughts of a house with no neighbors over you or under you; windows on every side; a yard with trees and room for flowers and veggies. Well, I have planted the idea of moving. We'll see if it grows.
A short video (Niagara (2008) by Jaye Rhee) shows people in slickers by a pool looking out over a picture of Niagara Falls. I have actually been in a slicker near the real Niagara Falls, and can recommend a tour.
I have a little suggestion for Aljira: you can save money and paper in the future by printing your press kit presentation pieces back-to-back. It may be a trivial saving, but the environmentalists among us hate to see wasted paper, even one sheet (multiplied by however many copies you made of that kit). You never know who is an environmentalist, tho in Liberal places like Newark, and urban NJ more generally, you might expect most people to be environmentally concerned.
"Emerge 10" remains on view only thru September 26th. Check the Aljira website for hours. And you might want to call ahead to make sure it's open as scheduled.
* To the extent I was able to establish with certitude the identification of the particular work and artist, I state them in the captions. But I arrived late and was not methodical about taking a foto of the identifying number on the wall by each work as I fotograffed the work, so leave some ID's blank. I have alerted Edwin Ramoran of Aljira about this blogpost, and if he supplies more ID's than I was able to come up with, I will add the ID's and delete this footnote. I asked Edwin if there were links at the Aljira website to the various artists' own websites and he said no. Management had thought to include such links, but decided not to do so unless every artist participated. I told Edwin that I don't understand that, and the absence of such links would require me to do my own research to find websites, if any. I suggested that Aljira's stance should be that this linking is a resource we offer you, but if you don't want to avail yourself of it, that's your choice. (But other artists' websites would be linked to, in any case.)