DEDICATION OF NEWARK PUBLIC ART PROGRAM MURAL “EMANCIPATION OF MUSIC” IN LINCOLN PARK NEIGHBORHOOD
May 10, 2013
Newark Central Ward Council Member Darrin Sharif and Deputy Mayor of Economic and Housing Development Adam Zipkin joined with dignitaries from Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District and Rutgers University to dedicate an outdoor mural on Friday at the South Presbyterian Church Façade located at 1033 Broad Street at Lincoln Park.
The mural entitled “Emancipation of Music” was produced by the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, Rutgers University, Integrity House, the Newark Public Art Program and Yendor Arts with lead artist Armisey Smith and supporting artist Malik Whitaker and students from Rutgers University. The mural was painted onto the side of a residential building operated by Integrity House. The mural will complement Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District’s transformation of The Façade, a historic eight-story high Greek Revival blue sandstone facade on a half-acre site, into a 615 person outdoor performance venue and urban farm to become the center of the emerging artist movement in Newark and the cultural revitalization efforts in Lincoln Park. The mural also marks the first collaboration between the Newark Public Art Program and Rutgers University in which the mural was attached to an undergraduate American Studies course entitled “Murals, Street Art & Graffiti: Power and Public Art in Contemporary Urban America,” and the mural was designed with the help of Rutgers students enrolled in the course.
The mural’s theme is the history and contemporary culture of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, epitomized by African American music. The Lincoln Park area, once referred to as the Barbary Coast, was an African American business district that became a hub for jazz clubs and nightlife. “When people think of the hottest cities of the Jazz Age and Swing Era, New York, Nashville, New Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, and Chicago immediately spring to mind. But Newark, New Jersey was just as happening as each of these towns. On any given evening, you could listen to a legendary singer like Sarah Vaughn or laugh at the celebrated comedy of Red Foxx. Newark was a veritable maze of theaters, clubs, and after-hours joints where people like to have a good time. Many entertainment careers were launched in the City of Newark” (from the book “Swing City: Newark Nightlife 1925-1950” by Barbara Kukla.) Lincoln Park is now home to the Lincoln Park Music Festival, which attracts over 50,000 visitors and is one of Newark’s largest cultural events. The Festival has been a driving force in the revitalization of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, which is becoming a thriving area for arts and culture.
The mural celebrates Lincoln Park’s past and present by featuring images of a choir, musician Billie Holiday, who performed in Newark and of Sarah Vaughn and James Moody, who were from Newark and began their career here. The mural includes an image of a blues player to represent that genre and an image of a disc jockey (DJ) to represent the music genres of House and Hip-Hop which are the mainstays of the Lincoln Park Music Festival. The mural also depicts images referring to Africa and to slavery, a reference not only to African American people but specifically to the South Presbyterian Church which was once an abolitionist church.
“By far the most gratifying part of my job is having the privilege of working with so many incredible residents and community-based organizations. Newark’s greatest strength lies in its diversity, and its ability to create partnerships that change the community in profound and lasting ways. The Newark Public Art Program is one such partnership.” Councilman Darrin Sharif said. “The beautiful mural that we are celebrating today is the result of a partnership between an incredibly talented group of stakeholders. This mural represents yet another important investment in a neighborhood that has transformed this part of the Central Ward.”
The final artwork was developed collaboratively with input from the partnering organizations, Rutgers students, a community meeting where residents and other stakeholders attended and the Newark Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission, which had to approve the design of the mural because it is in a Historic District.
The mural is one of twenty that have been completed over the last four years by the Newark Public Art Program in partnership with City Without Walls, Groundswell Community Mural Project and Yendor Arts. Each mural is produced by professional artists and Newark youth from designs developed in collaboration with community-based organizations and residents. Each mural takes a specific approach to the theme “THIS IS NEWARK,” highlighting the landmarks, history, and spirit of the City’s neighborhoods. Organizations and property owners that offer wall space participate in the design and must agree to maintain the artwork for 10 years.
“The Newark Public Art Program is not just about beautiful works of art but about collaborative partnerships that strengthen communities. The beauty of this public piece of art and the message behind it is a reflection of the richness of a partnership that brought many different voices into one song. Newark’s healthy growth and development is predicated on strong partnerships. This mural will contribute to the vitality and regional appeal of the Lincoln Park neighborhood for many years to come and it will be a constant reminder of the what is possible when community stakeholders come together to improve their neighborhoods” Deputy Mayor Zipkin said.
The Newark Public Art Program is an initiative of the Newark Planning Office to create public works of art and design that manifest the spirit and pride of Newark in its public spaces. It aims to bring public art and design into each of Newark’s neighborhoods, cultivating civic and community pride, bringing unexpected visual pleasure to the urban landscape, empowering residents and other stakeholders, and connecting Newark’s youth to community-based artists.
“This is a great community story on creative place making. Through our collaborative efforts, we capitalized on our local assets, inspiration and potential. Ultimately, creating a good public space that promotes health, happiness and well being.” Anthony Smith, Director of Communications and Community Affairs for Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District.
“Rutgers-Newark is truly thrilled to partner on this initiative and introduce our students to the phenomenal talent and leadership within our city, the rich history and heritage of Lincoln Park and tenets of community organizing that center on the many assets and resources within Newark. Because of this project, our students are more committed to Newark’s success and, with deep pride, see themselves as part of the city’s fabric” said Maren Greathouse, Director of the Rutgers LGBTQ and Diversity Resource Center.
“We are pleased to partner with the City of Newark, LPCCD, Rutgers Newark, Yendor and all of the community stakeholders. We’ve been in the area since 1968. This is a step in the right direction as we collectively restore our community” said Robert Budsock, President & CEO of Integrity House.