Fotos today are from this year's first Halsey Street Block Party on June 3rd.I had intended to add the discussion below late yesterday, but conked out after tending to other matters. I'd rather do things right than rushed, so discuss today's events today. Ideally, such matters would be covered in time for people who read about them to get to them. But most people don't check this blog every day, so might not have seen these notes in time even if I had managed to put them online last nite. Besides, these blogposts stay up for years, and there will be other Halsey Street Block Parties, so my pix and discussion can serve to entice people to those later events.
NuMu Prevue Tuesday. I attended Tuesday's Members' Preview for the four new shows.
Make Me Something Beautiful: 2010 Craft Arts Annual
Modern Metal: Early 20th-Century American Sculpture
Indigenismo: Ancient Roots in Mexican Art from the Bank of America Collection
Present Tense: Arts of Contemporary Africa
There were "Curators' Overviews" starting at 6pm in the auditorium, but I decided I wasn't interested in that, and I had things to tend to at home. I had also done a one-hour foto tour of my neighborhood that afternoon, so wanted to fix those pix. The main things I wanted to attend at the Museum were the reception in Engelhard Court (with, alas, "cash bar") and the four shows. I got there shortly before 8pm. Kevin Sampson was supposed to be there, because he had something in the show. So I checked out the Craft Annual and found his TWO sculptures on the wall. While I was looking at them, someone came up on my left, and it was Kevin, so we did meet up. He explained something about his works and we chatted about this and that, including how hot it was, when both of us had worn sports jackets!
As he prepared to leave, Mayor Booker talked to citizens. I asked if he knew how crappy Newark's tourism effort is, and he called over Stefan Pryor, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, to speak to me, since he knew more about that. Pryor, in turn, called over Hector Ortiz, Director, Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau. I mentioned that I had been given his email address last year by the "Beautiful Newark" people and sent him a note but he never replied. I then spoke with this earnest young man about my disappointment that Newark is doing so little about tourism, and that the City's website does a really crappy job, with very few fotos and tiny gray type — not even crisp black type. I mentioned that the bare start that I as a private citizen have made with my TourismNewark.org website shows about 50 fotos, as against 7 on the City's site. He said he is aware of the problems and the City, and the Brick City Development Corporation, are working on redesigning the website and producing Visitors Guides (3 so far). He also said that they have a staffed information area in Terminal B at the Airport. Continental is in Terminal C, and he agreed with me that that is a more important terminal to be in, tho all terminals should have a Newark tourism information center. I suggested that an electronic kiosk with several touchscreens would be a good way to go, and he said that is definitely something they are exploring, along with opening in Terminal C. He said they are working with other websites than just the City's, which I said is fine, and they could be accessed via kiosks, especially at an airport, where people have a lot of time to fill between flites, especially with the delays so common nowadays. He said we should get together some time to discuss tourism issues. I gave him my card, and he said he'd contact me. Not so far, he hasn't.Then I toured the rest of that exhibit and the Indigenismo exhibit. I didn't know where the other shows were, and didn't have time to find them on this visit. Since I'm a member, I can stop in anytime I'm in that area during Museum hours, so seeing all four shows that nite wasn't necessary. I don't want to "art out".
I introduced myself to the nice lady at the Newark Museum table while checking the kinds of materials on hand. The wind was blowing things around, and she had to look for rocks to hold them down. Later on, I saw that the woman at the Newark Now table had put rubber bands around the stacks of handouts, so the weight of the many held down the one on top, so passed that idea along to the Newark Museum lady, for next time. Speaking of next time, I hope the organizers will ask superintendents and tenants NOT to put out garbage until after the Block Party. The stack of black trash bags in the background is not exactly scenic.
I saw and chatted with one of the women who attended the Members' Morning copper-bracelet-making workshop (she can be seen sitting in the background of the first foto in yesterday's post), and she introduced me to a friend of hers from New York who had come over for the reception. I gave both of them my card so they might check out my description of our workshop, and other things.
Fotografer Sandro Gomes at a table shared with Luisa Pinzon, who was not in her blue chair at the moment. I spoke with her later. She left a job at the Newark Arts Council to build a career in fotografy. She is not averse to doing kids pix and weddings. It's all fotografy. I mentioned to Sandro, whom I had run across but not yet met, that I saw his work at the 33 Washington show during last year's Open Doors extravaganza, and mentioned the blue parrot he fotograffed. "Moses", he said. Yes.
I said hello to Newark artist Matt Gosser, and he asked what I was up to. I told him there are so many events now, that I'm jumping. He then mentioned two events Friday, and I said I hadn't heard about them unless they were mentioned in an email from the NAC that I hadn't had time to review. (They were.) Then I found Kevin Sampson again, and he introduced me to a couple of his friends who had come to the show, plus his dauter and son-in-law. Then it was time to go. Short and sweet, as intended.
Sometimes candid shots don't work out. When I was ready to take this picture of the Index Art Center's table, Lowell Craig, one of the principals, bent down to tend to something in the cooler, so I moved the center of the foto to the right.
"Beautiful" and "Indigenismo" run until August 9th. "Present Tense" is "Ongoing". I can't find any information on the NuMu website about the "Modern Metal" show.
Did you know we have bicycle cops in Newark? I didn't. I spoke briefly with this young woman, who has an accent. I guessed Jamaica; nope, London (tho where her parents might be from I do not know). She is here studying for a masters degree at Rutgers. What subject? Criminology. Yes, I said, you might do better studying criminology here than in Britain — tho they did just have a mass shooting. She turned serious; yes, that is disturbing. Now, a couple of questions. Isn't police work a government job and public trust? If this woman is not a U.S. citizen, why is she permitted to hold a government job? The courts have consistently upheld the right of governments to restrict government jobs not only to citizens but also to residents of a given municipality. In a time of high unemployment, both these standards should definitely be met for any City employee. Of course, if she is just an unpaid volunteer, we still have the issue of the propriety of having foreigners boss around Americans in their own country. Not proper. She seems very nice, but if this is not her country or city, she needs to find a job in the private sector. I do not want my tax dollars — not pounds — going to outsiders.
cWOW at PruCenter, Thursday. I plan to attend this. I just have to figure where to park. Maybe I'll park remotely and take a bus (my senior citizen discount is a great thing).
Newark New Media 2010, the third season of cWOW's artist residency and apprenticeship program at the cutting edge of digital technology and contemporary art, premieres Thursday, June 17, 2010, 4-6 p.m. with a screening and public reception in Prudential Center's Verizon Tower, 165 Mulberry Street [at Lafayette], Newark, NJ, 07102. The program will air on Prudential Center's outdoor marquee through July 31, 2010, and can be seen by millions of passing vehicular, rail, and pedestrian commuters and residents.
Few people seemed to pay much attention to the people at information tables, and these two ladies at the Newark Bears table seemed particularly neglected. The Bears are doing something very wrong, not to have a wide and enthusiastic following.
Aljira Teen Art Show. After the cWOW event, there is an exhibit of teen arts at Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art.
Thursday, June 17, 5-7pm at Aljira, 591 Broad Street [opposite the northern end of Military Park, and south of Central Avenue].
A summer presentation of Culture Creators, Aljira's youth outreach and career exploration program. Aljira partnered with La Casa on an innovative arts pilot program for 33 teens aged 13-17. Join us for the culminating event, an open studio experience where the teens will present dance, music, stop-motion photography, and video clips that they produced.
An "animodule" stands by the Barat Foundation's table. I spoke with Gary and Chandri Barat about their programs. They are not taking kids to Provence this summer. I didn't ask if that was due to difficulty finding funding because of the recession. I did ask what they're doing with their gallery space, and Gary said that they may lose it because the City may take over the building. I don't see that the City should want to close down an art gallery and arts workshops for kids, but perhaps the City needs the space for something else.
La Casa de Don Pedro is one of Newark's prominent Community Development Corporations. La Casa integrates an array of supportive social services and community economic development programs that promote family well-being, healthy child development, educational achievement, employment opportunities, home-ownership, financial self-sufficiency, energy conservation, and neighborhood renewal. To learn more visit their website http://www.lacasanwk.org/.
This was by another animodule, an elephant. I inquired as to their dauters, Athena and Ariana. Ariana is still in Newark, but Athena has moved to Brooklyn. "Brooklyn?", said I. I assumed she had moved to one of the trendy areas, like the arty Williamsburg section, but didn't ask. "Brooklyn is alrite, I suppose, but it's no Newark." On the plus side, Gary and Chandri have moved out of the suburbs (in Morris County) and into a "lovely" area of Newark, Forest Hill. Good for them! OK, empty nesters in other suburbs, follow the Barats' lead and get close to the arts and sports and restaurants of this revitalized city.
Halsey Street Block Party Tonite. At 6pm, a block away from Aljira, the second Halsey Street Block Party of the season begins, and runs until 10pm. Tamara of Newark Pulse asked if I had any suggestions, from my experience with the first. I did.
The organizers should provide little clip-on weights to hold down the corners of the banners on tables so all the info is readable. At least the website of Newark Now is readable. This is the lady who thought to wrap rubber bands around the literature to keep it from being carried off by the wind.
The event desperately needs live entertainment; no massive speakers blasting people, but smaller speakers, more scattered, and quieter, so people can talk. Glassroots, despite my pointing out that its chalkboard sign 40 feet or so in from the corner was not seen so did not direct anyone to their demos, did not move the sign. When I went back to check the glassworking demo, NOBODY was there but the glassworkers. Nobody. And why would there be anyone, if they don't see a sign because it is 30 or 40 feet from the nearest point of the party, under a tree, and cannot be seen? There was not, at any time I was within hearing distance, a Master/Mistress of Ceremonies to provide announcements of what was on offer, such as the Glassroots demo.
Note the absence of a sign directing people to a glassblowing demonstration down Bleeker Street. The only signs were just beyond the block closed to traffic, and down too far to be seen. The first sign should have been right AT the Glassroots table. It could even have been on the banner hanging down from the table.
And passive tables don't suffice. The event needs floating greeters, with Halsey Street nametags, to welcome people who look lost, and orient them to what is on offer.
Two glassworkers form a platter. The furnace where the glass is initially heated is behind a closed door to the left. The open area to the right is where they reheat a worked object when it gets too cool. The guy in this foto said that that opening is called a "glory hole". They might want to reconsider the terminology.
There should be a free-form feel to the event, such that people with acoustic guitars could sit and strum and engage people nearby in singing familiar songs, as NYC's Washington Park at least used to be. Until that idea gets established, the organizers could call upon a guitarist of their acquaintance to start things off. There should be a low stage, or part of the street set aside as a stage (marked in chalk, so people know to stand behind the line), even tho not elevated, with an open mike. There could be karaoke in one area. Musicians from Arts High, choruses from various of the schools, a small marching band or jazz band from TWO of the competing high schools (e.g., Shabazz and Weequahic) might be glad to perform for free, just for the exposure and publicity for their school, or Boys & Girls Club, or church, or whatever. There are lots and lots of church choirs that could perform some of their favorite gospel numbers, and some nonreligious music as well. There are dance schools (Gallman's in Newark, one in South Orange) that might be delited to give an impromptu recital on the street. The barber at the Cutting Zone is also a saxophonist; maybe he could come out and play a couple of numbers. If the event grows, you might expand to the block ending at New Street, where there's a chainlink fence on which could be hung various artworks in an outdoor gallery. There is, indeed (I checked my pictures), a stretch of chainlink fence even in the one block, near Hahne's. A chess and checkers table, which could grow to include appropriate other games, like the simple, fast card game Uno. Sketch artists, or someone like Kevin Darmanie showing cartooning techniques, or pastels, or oils/acrylic painting demos. There's lots more that can be done, among which is to ASK people what they'd like to see at the next party, and let them put anonymous cards into a Suggestion Box. That's a start.
Milling about goes only so far. I'm not suggesting that every second of the event should be programmed and directed, for the entire group, but rather that the space should be reconceived as several different zones, in some of which, directed activities occur and in others of which people are left to their own devices. Music should always be inviting, not overpowering. That kind of thing.
Arty restaurant 27 Mix has front windows, not just a door, that open onto Halsey Street. It also has tables in an open patio out back, and various artworks on the walls. My pix of those did not turn out, however, because I didn't want to annoy patrons with flash.
Fifth Event Thursday. In addition to the City Council "Hearing of Citizens" and the cWOW at Pru, Aljira, and Block Party events above, there is also an artist talk by Joe Waks at Solo(s) Project House from 7-10pm Thursday, at 972 Broad Street (next to the Rodino Federal Office Building). So again we have an overloaded Thursday, with more events than any one person is likely to get to. That is indeed better than having nothing at all, but the more events are on one day, the more days there are with no events at all. And that's not good. Newark has got to change its feast-or-famine events scheduling to spread things out so more people can attend more things, without feeling they are missing out on something. There are actually some people who, presented with a hard choice, will choose NEITHER, but just stay home, or just go home from work instead of lingering in Newark.
There weren't a lot of kids at this party. One black father was break-dancing for his tiny dauter, but she was too tired to pay him any heed. I told him his moves looked good, tho. Here, little boy Luca (left) met little girl Schuyler. Toddler networking.
A given person could get from PruCenter to Aljira to the Halsey Street Block Party in one easy circuit. But getting down below City Hall on the same evening too? That's really pushing it. We need a Newark Events Central Scheduling Calendar (by any name) to avoid this kind of conflict in the future. Perhaps the City's emerging tourism office could create one.
There wasn't much food outdoors on Halsey Street, but of course 27 Mix is a restaurant you could step into. Here, Nick's Bar offers a few grilled items: steak sandwich, shishkabob, and, apparently most popular from what I saw people eating, corn on the cob. As I was departing, Nick himself saw me and shook my hand. He was happy with my mention of his establishment last November 12th. I had also been recognized by someone when I stepped into the Cutting Zone (barber shop and art gallery). I have some pix of that establishment and another I explored, Gifts East West. But I'll speak to them more at length another time.