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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, January 04, 2013

Pix from MAM First Thursday; MAM Free on BofA Saturday and Sunday

I did make it to the Montclair Art Museum ("MAM") last nite, to see how its Free First Thursday Nite event went, and to see the Saya Woolfalk and Georgia O'Keeffe shows before they close (Ms. Woolfalk's, this Sunday; Ms. O'Keeffe's, on January 20th.

The O'Keeffe exhibit is spare, but I can't show you pix because fotografy (I was told by a (white, for visualization) woman guard) is not permitted in that show. (The note to that effect is on an 8½" × 11" sign below eye level, as perhaps the fourth item in a short list of banned behavior, so I didn't see it.) In other parts of the Museum, I was told, fotografy would be fine. That surprised me, because I thought it was the opposite: that fotos of the permanent collection were banned but of special exhibitions was OK.

I had hoped to see O'Keeffe's painting Cebolla Church, a framed print of which I have in the hallway on my first floor. It was not among the artworks in this distinguished show, but a number of things that surprised me were in it. I expected the paintings and drawings of landscapes, extreme closeups of flowers, animal skulls and attached horns. But I did not know that O'Keeffe also worked in 3D, creating various small sculptures on Amerindian themes, such as kachina dolls, including one that is lewd. (Will that incline people to avoid the show, or rush to it?)

This and the next foto are of parts of a video.

I made a quick circuit of the O'Keeffe exhibit, because I arrived a bit less than a half hour before the scheduled end of the event, and wanted to see Saya Woolfalk's show too. (By the way, I don't know how her last name is said. Is the second-L pronounced? I think the first name is pronounced with a long-I in the first syllable. The inability, so often, of the reader to know how to pronounce ANYthing in English made me a spelling reformer. We have a one-letter word ("a") with two pronunciations!)

Where O'Keeffe is restrained, Woolfalk is ebullient. Where O'K's colors are muted, Woolfalk's are intense. O'Keeffe works with nature and American Indian cultures. Woolfalk sets out a world of pure imagination. It's quite striking a contrast, that you might like to see. Some of Ms. Woolfalk's images incorporate feathers in profusion, and thus also evoke Amerindian cultures.

But you can't see both shows at MAM unless you get there this weekend — free, if you qualify for Bank of America's "Museums on Us" program for holders of BofA's credit or debit cards. Regular admission costs $12; seniors and students, $10.

I almost missed what may be Woolfalk's largest work in the show, alongside the stairway from the second to ground floor, except that that helpful female guard asked if I had seen the stairwell installation, and when I said no, pointed me to it. I mentioned to her that I had met Ms. Woolfalk at the Newark Museum.

I do not pretend to understand what Saya (if I may be so bold) intends in her art, but its visual splendor and richness of color and form is justification enuf for the typical viewer. This fuzzy foto of a poorly lited textual introduction to the Woolfalk show gives the opening paragraph and a bit, by way of explanation.

I made a quick tour of both temporary exhibitions (I have seen the permanent collection, as then displayed, a few years ago). Between the two special exhibits, which are separated by some distance, I took some pictures of the crowd in the area of the bar, and of the musicians in an adjacent room.

MAM got quite a crowd that nite, which I was pleasantly surprised to see. As I pulled into the parking lot, I had seen that it was well occupied, so anticipated a goodly crowd inside. I was not disappointed. I didn't know anyone there, but if I go regularly, I may strike up acquaintanceships.

I don't know how these once-monthly extended — and free — hours are paid for; whether, for instance, the price of drinks is high enuf to cover the cost of guards, bartenders, waiters, and musicians, and leave some profit to underwrite the Museum's programs. Parking is free, unlike at NuMu, so MAM isn't making any money from that. In any case, the Newark Museum needs to look into such events itself.

I'm not even insisting that NuMu should host such nitetime events with free admission, just that it should at the least have one nite per month, at regular admission prices, on which it stays open to 9pm, or even 10 — tho not on the first Thursday of the month, in destructive competition with MAM. Perhaps, say, the second Friday. If the nitetime hours draw a good crowd, such events could even be extended to 11pm or midnite. Newark needs a lot more things for people to do at nite, and people leaving NuMu after 10pm could hop right over to Halsey Street's or the Ironbound's niteries.

NuMu has a bigger and better venue, in the expansive Engelhard Court, for a bar, tables, and music. I don't think the MAM evening's success rests on the 'intimacy' of the venue, but one never knows all the factors that go into success or failure of any social event. Market research tries to find out, but it is not a fully scientific discipline.

In that I am ordinarily a late riser (having worked evening or graveyard shift for something like 30 years), the Free First Thursday Nites event at MAM suits me to a T. I even found, thru 'dead reckoning', a good route to MAM from my house that MapQuest did not suggest. (I despise the multitudinous expressions in English that entail death, and generally avoid them, but thought this one, in single quotes, appropriate here.)

After the evening drew to a close, I walked out of the parking lot toward Bloomfield Avenue and took some fotos of the Woolfalk work in the stairwell as seen from outdoors.

Then I walked first to the near side of Bloomfield Avenue and then the far side to capture the Bloomfield Avenue façade of the Museum.

The roadway slopes up to the right. It's not an illusion from perspective.

I then headed back to the parking lot, but fortunately remembered to check the main entrance, at the extreme opposite of the stairwell, before I stepped into my car and departed. Unfortunately, that façade was not well-lit. When I took a picture of the façade past the statue of the Indian youth shooting an arrow into the air, that statue's floodliting caused my camera's auto-exposure function to trip the shutter fast enuf to capture some detail in the building beyond the statue.

The Woolfalk and, esp., O'Keeffe banners were not floodlit, however, so my fotos of them came out fuzzy. I didn't want to go into the trunk of my car for my tripod and set it up in the cold, so ambient-lite pix didn't work, because I couldn't hold the camera sufficiently steady.

I returned to my car and drove across Bloomfield Avenue to Whole Foods to get milk. The pricing label was not present, so I asked a very helpful young (black) man (who had earlier walked ahead of me past several aisles to show me where milk was, to begin with) if there was a pricing scanner I could use. There was not, but he handed one gallon of whole milk (of the three I typically buy at a time) to the young (black) woman at customer service, and she confirmed that it was $3.49, as in the other Whole Foods I had recently bought milk in — a bargain most people would not expect from Whole Foods. (And, again, I got sturdy paper shopping bags I can use to pack up paper recycling.)
The black employees at Whole Foods, and in the Newark Home Depot I went to this evening, were very helpful and cordial to me. White people's worries about being treated shabbily by black people in Newark and other parts of Essex County are completely unwarranted. Our schools would appear to be turning out well-adjusted and courteous kids who treat everyone not just in a businesslike fashion, but a step above.

As I drove home, I stopped to fotograf this one Christmas decoration I noticed in the entire Montclair stretch of Bloomfield Avenue.

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