Despite the bone chilling 16-degree weather, over a hundred artists, scholars and patrons of the arts flocked to the Newark Public Library Wednesday night for the opening reception for Newark Art and Artists. The event introduced the second in a two–part exhibition of prints, photographs, books, and other works on paper that either have Newark as their subject, or were created by artists who have lived, studied, worked, or were born in Newark. Whereas part one of the exhibition presented works from the 19th and early/middle–20th centuries, part two of the exhibition features about 100 works created between 1937 and 2012 by a wide range of contemporary, living artists.
Drawn entirely from the holdings of the Special Collections Division of the NPL, the exhibition was nothing short of dazzling. So dazzling, in fact, that I nearly missed the immensely informative talk given by Jared Ash, the exhibition curator. In addition to discussing the composition of the exhibition (which will available for viewing through May 25), Ash’s multimedia presentation provided an overview of art–related events, initiatives, and resources for Newark artists at the Newark Public Library. Particularly promising is the Art Portfolio Review and Resource Fair (March 9), which will offer artists the opportunity to have their work reviewed by one of four distinguished curators, free of charge.
Amongst the featured artists in attendance was Nell Painter, the noted historian who authored the bestselling “History of White People.” The Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University shared with me her excitement about her stuido space in Newark’s Ironbound section as well as serving as the NPL’s first artist-in-residence.