In a move to bring the creative energies to the Upper Clinton Hill neighborhood, Rodney Gilbert, the founder and CEO of Yendor Productions, (a Newark-based firm that consults, develops, and produces arts education programming and events) with a mission to bring purpose and conversation to the latest mural installation in the city of Newark.
Mr. Gilbert is the Senior Program Manager for the Newark Murals Program, for which Yendor is the Lead Arts organization that manages these programs in partnership with with the city of Newark and Rutgers Newark. This mural was conceptualized and painted by Rutgers University -Newark students, and Newark professional artists Jasmine DeJesus. A true partnership forged in the spirit of socially responsible urban revitalization, this project celebrates the homegrown Leaders for Life Program, a newly minted Newark Center of Hope, located on 84 Clinton Place, Newark, NJ (Corner of Clinton Place and Runyon Ave), that empowers young men in the South Ward through mentorship and academic enrichment.
Yesterday’s initiative is one out of a total of nine buildings that will be turned into “Centers of Hope”. The Centers of Hope are in all five of Newark’s wards that allow access to City services, similar to community development centers known in the 70’s as “Area Boards centers” with programs in the wellness and enrichment opportunities where people live and work. The Centers will offer a variety of athletic, arts & culture, educational, environmental, healthy living and recreation programming to engage and empower the community. Staffed by the Division of Recreation, the Department of Health and Community Wellness, and other community partners, the centers will operate primarily Mondays to Fridays.
“I am glad to be here at the Center of Hope, and give it up for the beautiful mural and want to thank all the artist that worked on it. said Mayor Baraka. “The idea is to revitalized this neighborhood, and providing opportunity for young people to get involve in productive activities in this neighborhood, starts to beginning efforts to rebuild our community and restore our neighborhoods. Clinton Hill is a community I know well, it where I grew up. Its where I was the vice principal at Hawthorne Avenue School. We are expanding our outreach and connection to our residents, offering them more programs, more services, and more information,” said Mayor Baraka. “The services we offer range from recreation to health to education, and impact all ages. I am proud of how we have partnered with so many organizations to create these Centers of Hope, and I urge all Newark residents to turn their own hopes into realities at these Centers, and continue to transform Newark into a City we can all believe in.”
Mr Gilbert stated how important it was seek out and identifying local talent in Newark, and breaking with the trend of outsourcing. The artist Jasmine DeJesus, is a Newark artist, attended Newark Arts High, and graduated from Montclair University majoring in Fine Art. The mural image is purposeful higher education, features a males figure with a pen in hand, with a book shelf in the background, after school studying facility, a silhouette of a football image, a Rutgers University flag, and at the top of the mural a silhouette of a graduate with left hand raised.
The community block party, planned by Rutgers University-Newark students, concluded with performances by Leaders for Life youth, carnival “like” games and popcorn, and cotton candy activities for the kids,including large inflatables.