'Design Newark' Show Closes December 3rd
This might be titled, "Get to Design Newark or Miss Out", because I think the show is definitely worth seeing. I have now been to the "Design Newark" show at the 239 Collective three times, and seen something new each time.
What I had not seen the first two times was what proved for me the most interesting part of the show, downstairs, off the main floor. The bulk of that area deals with designs to promote Newark in the eyes of visitors.
That portion is filled with very interesting, if not even brilliant, ideas that people concerned with the future of this fine city need to address. We know Newark is splendid, but most people outside Newark think bizarre the very idea that Newark is splendid.
Outsiders do not understand what there is about Newark that has inspired devotion verging on fanaticism for scores of thousands of people. Some of those people are still here; others left, in The Bad Old Days, and are so angry about "having" to leave this magnicent American city that they haunt message boards to vent their rage against the Newark of today.
They don't know Newark, and never will know Newark unless we who love this city reach out to draw them in to the real Newark — or, as some designs in the show call it, "New Work", which is one of the meanings of "Newark".
Many of the designs in that area speak to striking art objects and arrays that will make each doorway to Newark a distinct and eye-catching focus, like a monumental gate thru the invisible (but all too real) wall around the city.
The entire group of Newark Gateways posters, at various sizes depending upon venue, should be on long-term view somewhere in, for instance, the College of Architecture and Design within NJIT, and the (magnificent, Art Deco) waiting room in Newark Penn Station, and in the ground-floor lobby or some other prominent space within the HQ of the Newark Public Library. Copies of the posters should as well be in places like Arts High, Newark Vocational High School, Newark Tech, Science Park High School — wherever Newark kids with a gift for design and/or the ability to produce the designs that others create are being educated to live in the New Newark and make it ever better.
"If you've got it, flaunt it" is something that the more flamboyant among my people, gay men, have long lived by (tho I don't know if we came up with the expression). Newark's got it, but doesn't flaunt it. Why not?
People in Manhattan can look across the Hudson and see the towers of Jersey City, Hoboken, and Edgewater, but rarely venture to our side of the River. From higher floors, they can even see Downtown Newark, most days. When I was living in Manhattan (for only 35 years, tho), I didn't much care to think about venturing into NJ, and I'm from NJ, and had to go 'home' to see family at least twice a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I even LIKE my family, smart, funny people I always had a great time with. We'd stand around in the kitchen, at my Grandmother's place mostly, have a few drinks, tell our best jokes, and laff and laff. I know that not all families have that kind of camaraderie and happy, easy relations. For some families, "the holidays" are filled with dread and angst. Not mine. You should be so lucky as to have a family like mine.
Now we're scattered, in the Houston area of Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Long Beach, California — aside from me. I remain in the Newark/NYC area, where I think we were all born. This Christmas, the others are getting together at my brother Alan's place in Las Vegas. Not me. I don't care to travel anymore, and my kitties wouldn't care to be alone, tho I made sure they always have other kitties to keep them company. I'm the only one who lives with no one of his species in this house. But that's fine. Most of what I do requires me to be alone for hours and hours a day anyway, so I wouldn't be very good company much of the time.
The one big thing about Newark I would change is the weather. But New York has much the same weather, except one or two degrees cooler.
Newark is a great place to live, and a fine place to visit. But who knows that, other than you(s) and me? Newark has grace, and style. Verve, talent, manners. I don't want to wax too lyrical, lest people who don't know Newark think I'm exaggerating. One big reason I show lots and lots of fotos is so people can see for themselves that I am not exaggerating.
People who regularly find themselves in such locations might look forward to reviewing the next day what they weren't able to read today. Some might even wait for the next bus or train if they won't be there tomorrow. Some of the pieces in the "Design Newark" show are that good. They make you think. And people who are happy with Newark and feel pride but don't realize that there are LOTS of Newarkers who feel pride in Newark will be glad to see these thought-provoking pieces.
The posters that show The Bottle, the water tower shaped like a soda/beer bottle that once stood over a bottling plant on South Orange Avenue at Grove Street, reminded me of something I proposed here November 27, 2005. (I have restored to that post the fotos that AOL erased.)
Moreover, there are wonderful things one can do with big structures today. Look at the new buildings in Times Square that have enormous electronic displays that wrap around the structures and constantly change images like gigantic TV screens. Couldn't something like that be done to the Bottle?I saw Matt Gosser at the St. Philip's Academy and Green Drinks talks (see below), mentioned the posters about the Bottle (the first show of his that I saw was the Ar+cheology exhibition about the former bottling plant/brewery), and asked if he had thought about using the Bottle with LEDs or whatever they are that can create constantly shifting images and words. He hadn't, but liked the idea. Maybe the Bottle, so altered, can become one of several eye-catching artworks at entryways to the city. We could even have a tower of lite from the top, like the temporary memorial of two blue lites that rose from the site of the former World Trade Center. Our beacon to the sky, however, would be joyous, announcing to everyone for miles around, "Here stands Newark."
If international businesses locate in the commercial development, how about a painted world map around its circular form, with lites outlining the countries represented, and a flashing beacon with changing colors hiliting Newark's geographic location?
Even if the Bottle is taken down, it would presumably be best to have it painted to briten its appearance more than just preserve it. We could hold an international art contest to decide what to paint it, and maybe get a major paint or art-supply company to sponsor it. Sherwin-Williams has a major facility in Newark, on the Passaic. Maybe they'd like their paint to briten the Bottle and would be willing to supply the paint for free, as a public-relations coup.
In fact, we could hold an international contest for architects and architecture schools, artists and art schools, advertising and public-relations firms to submit ideas for use of the Bottle. Now. Hurry!
The Bottle is a giant, three-dimensional billboard that could be used in many different ways, and truly savvy marketing people would see its potential. The only thing that stands in the way of saving and making great use of the Bottle is a lack of imagination. I hope Newarkers aren't that unimaginative but will find a way to prevent the Bottle from vanishing into history.
Or we could go for some idiosyncratic siting, such as in Branch Brook Park in the grassy area opposite the Cathedral Basilica, behind the lions, juxtaposing medieval, contemplative splendor and the super-modern world of motion and commerce.
I'm not clear as to the hours during which the 239 Collective is open, but here is their contact information: 239 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102; (973) 286-1311; GlocallyNewark.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Philip's and Green Drinks. On November 18th I attended an event at the 239 Collective, where the Design Newark show served as backdrop. Two people talked about St. Philip's Academy and a third spoke of "Green Drinks".
SPAcademy is a highly unusual private school in the Episcopal tradition at Central Avenue around Bergen Street/1st Street. None of the students' families pays the c. $8,000 yearly tuition. Rather, all of the students are funded by generous, mainly corporate, sponsors. The Academy's new building has a rooftop garden in which students grow veggies for the cafeteria, and thru which they learn "green" principles.
This is one of the things that distinguishes Newark most pointedly from Manhattan, and we should capitalize on that to lure to this city people who want a greener place to live.
The speakers discussed what St. Philip's Academy does and how it works. They spoke below a projected presentation that included fotos. As I looked at the fotos, I became indignant. So when the presentation concluded and the speakers entertained questions, I asked three (paraphrased rather than quoted here). (1) I travel Central Avenue all the time, including that very nite on the way to 239, but do not recall having seen any such academy. Where exactly is it located? (2) Wouldn't a rooftop garden without a greenhouse be pretty much useless in our climate for half the school year? And, most pointedly, (3) The fotos suggest that the student body is all-black. That offends me. Newark is only half-black (54% in the 2000 census, and probably less now). If the student body really is all-black, why is that? And what steps are being taken to fix that? An integrated student body is in itself educational.
As you might imagine, this last was not the kind of question the speakers expected to get. They conceded that the student body is indeed pretty much all-black, but said that the reason is not an intent to segregate but to serve the local community, which is dominantly black. A woman in the audience, who, I later found out, was (I believe) Joy Tolliver (I have temporarily misplaced her card), an employee of the Academy, said that she agrees that just going to school with different kinds of kids, and maybe going to their house after school, is indeed in itself educational, but the Academy derives its student body from the people who actually apply, the preponderance of whom are from the immediate neighborhood. She said the Academy is always working to improve its programs, and welcomes volunteers to work on, for instance, diversifying the school's community. I spoke with her later and said that maybe the school needs a bus, maybe two buses, to pick up kids from outside the neighborhood and take them to the Academy. She thought that would be great. I said maybe they could find some car (and bus) company to donate a couple of buses to help with diversifying the Academy's student body and thus improving the educational value to its students.
I certainly do not begrudge a free education to black children of minimal means. But black children are not the only children of minimal means in this city. And we do have public schools, which are apparently doing a pretty good job. I have very serious reservations about private education of any kind, and think that perhaps we would do better, as a society, to outlaw all private schooling and home schooling as contrary to public policy, for promoting socioeconomic stratification and personal alienation from society. But if we are to have private education of any kind, it must not discriminate on the basis of race or income, be it for whites and against blacks, or the other way around.
As for my other questions, the gentleman said that the Academy is near the corner of Central Avenue and Bergen Street (or First Street, as the northern extension of Bergen is called), but there has not been prominent signage, only a small plaque, to indicate that. However, they are soon to unveil big banners to announce the school's presence. So I guess I will be able to find it sometime soon, whereupon I will show fotos here.
The growing season of the rooftop garden is, the gentleman said, extended not by a hothouse but by cold frames. The walls around the roof cut winds, and the entire roof receives full sun, so the growing season is extended, perhaps by as much as a full hardiness zone. Newark is in hardiness zone 6. So maybe the factors mentioned above give the garden more like a zone 7 environment (numbers get higher as minimum temperatures get higher).
Green Drinks. The second speaker that nite was a woman who astonished us by saying at one point that she is (half?) Chinese, and felt it important for her children to inherit the culture she grew up with. In any case, she was there to tell us that there are three groups in North Jersey that meet once a month on different days (the fourth whatever of the month) to network with other green-minded individuals to discuss how to make North Jersey more livable for every creature here. The Newark group meets each fourth Monday at 6pm at Rio Rodizio (1034 McCarter Highway, Newark 07102; (973) 622-6221).
Graffics Program Went Bonkers. Something insane has happened to my graffics program, Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8. For reasons beyond my comprehension, it starts to show the fotos in directories (esp. the top-level directory/folder), but then erases all the thumbnails! I checked in Windows Explorer, and all the fotos are still there, but Jasc does not present thumbnails of them. Without thumbnails, I cannot call them up to resize them for use here. Curiously, the fotos in some subdirectories/subfolders do appear, normally. So I tried to create a new subdirectory with a different name ("Revd"), then copy the Fixed pix into it, but the program still refused to show the fixed pix.
I thought maybe the 15 free registry changes I made thru Uniblue's RegistryBooster a few days ago might have done something, but I couldn't see how to restore the backup copy of the registry that that program made. (Uniblue is the company in Malta from which I received an email I discussed here February 26, 2008. Perhaps the very nice lady I exchanged emails with will see this, from her electronic alert service, and can tell me how to restore the backup of my registry that Uniblue created before I let the RegistryBooster make 15 little changes. I don't know that restoring that backup would fix the problem, but it might.
One techie advice webpage I saw said one could do a System Restore (Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore), so I did that and a restore point of 11/26/10 was suggested. I tried that, waited for the whole process to work, complete with reboot. It did not fix the problem. So I Uninstalled Jasc completely, after I made sure I had the original installation CD. Uninstall took longer than I expected. Then I rebooted to clear everything, and reinstalled from the CD. Nope. Then I went to an earlier System Restore point, 11/24/10, and repeated the process. Nope. Some new files I put into the top-level directory in recent hours would appear, but nothing else. I needed to get up this long-delayed post about the soon-to-close "Design Newark" show, so had to consider a couple of temporary fixes.
Then I thought to search CNET.com's Downloads area for a free graffics program as such, and saw one that has been downloaded more than 53 million times and is well reviewed, IrfanView. I recently encountered the name Irfan in a context that suggested everybody should know what it is. So I downloaded that. As I was doing that, it occurred to me that some kind of software came with my Olympus cameras and my Canon video-and-stills camera, but I don't know where I put the installation disks, nor did I explore what they can do, since Jasc was working fine at the time.
At present, I can use Irfan for what Jasc won't do. But I need to know why Jasc went crazy, because I know how to use Jasc, and have dozens of topics and well over 100 fotos to deal with in topics now backed up. Jasc also has a perspective correction tool, which Irfan does not. So I can, in Jasc, redraw some starkly nonrectangular posters and such into neat rectangles. The posters shown here that are not remotely rectangular were resized but not perspective-corrected, in Irfan. I have been so often delayed in putting up reports of art events that I got an email from someone who asked "Are you still attending Newark art openings?" I answered that I am indeed, but have been having some computer problems.
Where Have All the Sparrows Gone? I have noticed that this past hugely unrepresentative summer, with 31 days above 90° and a drought, had stripped my semi-suburban neighborhood, Vailsburg, of the birds, even sparrows, that I was accustomed to seeing and hearing (starting around 4:30am). Once the weather overnite got near freezing, I filled my birdfeeder, hoping that such birds as are still around would find that stash and keep themselves strong either for the flite south or for overwintering. Three days later, only about a third of the food has been eaten. Last year, I'd have to refill the feeder every day. The bulk of birds have just flown, so to speak, out of Vailsburg. Perhaps they found a more congenial environment near some body of water. There are none around here, tho I understand that there is a waterfall in South Mountain Reservation three or four miles from me. I have heard (Canada?) geese honking as they flew, in formation, south over the next block or a bit farther east. But I haven't seen any sparrows, grackles, starlings, blue jays, or other birds I would expect to eat the cracked corn I put out (and I do care). It will save me money on birdseed if they have abandoned this area this year. But I like having the birds around, and my cats like watching them thru the windows.