Newark at Gallery Aferro (All photos by Brendan Carroll unless otherwise noted)

Newark is getting ready to blow up this week. The city’s Open Doors Studio Tour, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, kicks off Thursday night with a sneak preview of the exhibition Call & Response at 570 Broad Street. The four-day festival features more than 300 artists. Events include group exhibitions, site-specific installations, open studios, poetry readings, dance performances, and music.

According to a number of mainstream media sources, Newark is the up-and-coming art scene, luring artists from Bushwick to Los Angeles in need of affordable spaces. As Ol’ Dirty Bastard claims, “I like it raw, Ooh baby I like it rawww.” Here is my list of recommendations of things you should see and do over the next few days.

Osman Khan “House” at “Call & Response”

“Call & Response” at 570 Broad Street

Curator Jennifer Junermeier says the show is inspired by recent cataclysms such as the breakdown of world financial systems to the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico; it should be a lot of fun. Newark is subject and object of the assembled artwork. Look for the work of Manuel Acevedo, Kevin Sampson, Risa Puno and Ryan Roa. Like the protagonist in Patrick Suskind’s 1985 novel Perfume, Puno is cable of seducing an unruly crowd through her scent-based installations. Kevin Sampson’s memorial sculptures, which have been comprised of pork rib bones and ashtrays, have the same gravitas as mediaeval reliquaries.

Closing Reception: Sunday, October 23, 5 pm

Kevin Sampson, “USS Palin” from Life, Liberty and the Pursuit Of Happiness

Luminous Angle: New Works by Kati Vilim 
at Kedar Studio of Art

Red and blue oblongs do the boogaloo in Kati Vilim’s vibrant geometric abstractions. She’s got the painting chops to give hardcore Constructivists a run for their money.

Reception: Friday, October 21, 2011 from 7 to 11 pm

Jerry Gant, “Muffelledown,” 2004–, metal and wood

Intersection at Index Art Center (site)

The exhibition features work by artists who have studios located at 31 Central Avenue and 585 Broad Street. Artists have occupied these two buildings for more than a decade, which helped establish Newark as a thriving arts community. Look for work by Jerry Gant, Daniel Brophy, Kevin Darmanie and German Pitre. Take this opportunity to become acquainted with Gant. Speaking as an artist, I wish I had half of his inventiveness and sincerity of vision. His soft sculptures of denim figures and handmade ghetto blasters warm the heart.

Reception: Friday, October 21, 2011 from 6 to 10 pm

Personal Effects and Facts and Figures: Barbara Wallace at Gallery Aferro (site)

Run by Emma Wilcox and Evonne M. Davis, Gallery Aferro has not only established itself as a destination for artists in New York and New Jersey, but Europe as well. Personal Effects features work by SWOON, Brian Eno and Kara Walker, to name a few. Check out Wallace’s representational life-size sculpture of a man and woman in post- or precoital embrace.

Reception: Friday, October 21, 2011 from 7 to 10 pm, with a special performance by artist Irvin Morazan at 8 pm

Andrew, Demirjiran, Interstices, 2009, 2-channel video (screen grab)

“2+2” at College of Architecture and Design Gallery (site)

The exhibition announcement says something about “dynamic duos of extraordinary artistic talent and vision.” I can’t vouch for the concept, but I can vouch for several artists featured in the show. Keep an eye out for Emma Wilcox, Evonne Davis, Dahlia Elsayed and Andrew Demirjian. Demirjian’s two-channel video melds algorithms and toy pianos. Like David Bowie, it’s all about sound and vision.

Reception: Friday, October 21, from 5 to 9 pm, Closing reception on Friday, November 25 from 5 to 8 pm

Dandy Lion: Articulating a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art (site)

If you are sick of seeing black men portrayed as unmade beds (saggy bottom pants, exposed boxers and extra large white tees), come to this exhibition. Curator Shantrelle Lewis has organized a group exhibition to celebrate the Black Dandy, the epitome of urban sophistication, connoisseurship and style. Like Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey, everyone looks smart.

Reception: Thursday, October 27, 2011 from 6 to 8 pm

So Yoon Lym, The Dreamtime, Archival Pigment Print, (Documenting 300’ x 450’ tractor drawn grass field inLeaf River, Illinois, 2010), 44” x 56” 2010

Lift off: Earthlings and the Great Beyond at Paul Robeson Galleries (site)

The demise of NASA inspired this show. The exhibition is a mashup of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Check out artist So Yoon Lym. She is known for her meticulous portraits that depict hairstyles (cornrows), not faces. In 2010, Lym went to Leaf River, Illinois, to create a 400-foot portrait in a tractor-drawn grass field.

Weekend Viewing Hours: Friday, October 21, from 5 to 9 pm

Ryan Higgins, Play Dead, 2011, dollar-store feather dusters, foam, glass, plastic, 58″x50″x20″

Passport Projects at Submergedart Gallery

The purpose of this show is to score a booth at Art Basel Miami in December. Curated by Jeanne Brasile and Dave Smith, the show features Andrew Baron, Dahlia Elsayed, Ryan Higgins, Hiroshi Kumagai, Charlee Swanson, and Kati Vilim.

Dahlia Elsayed at Gallery Aferro Studio Residency

Dahlia Elsayed, Jomar Statkun and Nadja Frank at Gallery Aferro

“Pay to Cum” by Bad Brains is one of the most infectious songs of all time. Often combining image and text, Elsayed’s paintings, drawings and installations unleash a similar joie de vivre. Check them out. She’ll be in the studio Sunday afternoon. Jomar Statkun and Nadja Frank are a collaborative team that has painted gigantic planes of colors on cliffs and sheer walls. 

Ibrahim Ahmed III, “She Left Me in the Fall of Winter” (2010), mixed media

Ibrahim Ahmed III at Solo(s) Project House Studios

According to his Website, Ahmed III paints from his subconscious. I’ll take his word. He builds wooden constructions, which often utilize windowpanes, to paint playful geometric abstractions.

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The Tenth Annual Open Doors Studio Tour takes place in Newark, New Jersey, from October 20 to 23.

Getting There:
The city of Newark is located in New Jersey, which means you must cross not one, but two rivers, to reach your destination if you’re coming from Brooklyn, but leave your passports and visa papers at home. Ride the PATH train and it’s only a 20-minute trip from #OccupyWallStreet in lower Manhattan.

Bushwick to Newark via Google Maps

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