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Drawing on its ethnically diverse population and vibrant history, Newark is developing its own arts and culture to become far more than New York’s little brother. Museums, private art galleries and exhibition spaces are currently thriving in the city, from the Ironworks district to downtown Newark, and bringing about an exciting, promising art scene. Visit these 10 galleries for an overview of local and national contemporary art, from Warhol to local performance artists.
CWOW is Newark’s oldest contemporary art space, and has been a thriving part of the community since 1975, promoting contemporary art through onsite exhibitions, travelling shows and educational programs. Its ArtReach program matches young, promising high school artists with mentors, while the City Murals project has helped the community create over 13 public murals in the city. The space itself is clean and sparse, making it the perfect backdrop for its inventive, colorful exhibitions. Recent featured artists have included gallery manager Jackie Cruz and portrait painter Lawrence Ciarallo.
City Without Walls, 6 Crawford St, Newark, NJ, USA, +1 973 622 1188
Down near the waterfront, Aljira is a gallery that promotes cross-cultural dialogue and diversity. As an educational center, performance space and gallery, it thrives on showing under-represented artists and exhibitions which examine the intersection of different disciplines. A recent exhibition showed the photographs of Bill May, which examine the history of jazz music in New Jersey, while another featured the abstract work of Terry Boddie, who lives and works near Newark and uses charcoal on photography to ‘blend the distinctions between media’. The gallery is keen to encourage burgeoning talent and welcomes submissions from unknown artists for consideration.
Aljira, 591 Broad St, Newark, NJ, USA, +1 973 622 1600
This space is just what it promises to be – a place where artistic projects are created, completed, and viewed at every stage of their creation. Visitors and artists rub shoulders in this free downtown gallery which commissions artists to create artwork, and curate it as an exhibition while it’s still being made. It’s the best place to go to view contemporary Jersey art as it happens. A recent exhibition comprised a ‘farewell party’ for artist and gallery support Hannah Craft, where she displayed a range of recent works and sold them cheaply to local art aficionados from a pop-up shop on the site.
Solo(s) Project House, 972 Broad St, Newark, NJ, USA, +1 551 580 3450
Sumei has been displaying US and international contemporary art in a renovated button factory since 2009. Founded in 1993 by a collective of artists, poets and musicians, it moved to its current address in Newark’s fashionable Ironbound district as its reach grew. The gallery reveals a distinct focus on both local artists and bringing international art to the US, and regularly hosts exhibitions and talks from European and African artists. Its interactive classes, workshops and exhibits make it a great place to bring kids, while its striking architecture has secured its place as a cornerstone in Newark cultural life.
Sumei Multidisciplinary Arts Center, 85 Hamilton St, Newark, NJ, USA, +1 973 589 5525
Gizen Bacaz, artist and founder of the Seed Gallery, has created a space where exhibitions, open-mic nights, underground parties and local artists are equally at home. Its exposed brick walls and wooden floors have the feel of a minimalist loft apartment, while the vibrant, colorful artworks on show give a flavor of local artists. Every Wednesday, the gallery opens up to allow local artists and students to exhibit their work, while regulars, including pop artist Boris Bernard, show on other nights of the week. Seed is open in the evenings, making it a perfect precursor to drinks or dinner.
Seed Gallery, 210 Market St, Newark, NJ, USA, +1 917 607 4440
Index Art Center is a non-profit arts organisation based near the Performing Arts Center and Military Park. After its previous space burnt down in 2013, it moved to its current premises and began to rebuild. Its re-opening was marked by an exhibition of installations from major regional artists including Joseph O’Neal and Hannah Craft, and works were then sold to fund the gallery’s artist-in-residency program, designed to encourage local creativity. The gallery frequently collaborates with local schools and community projects, and its yearly summer BBQ is an important date in the city’s arts calendar.
Index Art Center, 237 Washington St, Newark, NJ, USA, +1 862 218 0278
Seton Hall University’s gallery regularly hosts major exhibitions of contemporary and fine art. Recent offerings have included The Redemptive History of Georges Rouault, a retrospective of the French expressionist painter, and a selection of works from El Museo de Barrio, New York. While it is a little off the beaten track in nearby village South Orange, it is worth a visit for its in-depth and thoughtful exhibitions and a glimpse into an important local educational institution. Visit for a daytrip from busy downtown Newark.
Walsh Gallery, 400 S Orange Ave, South Orange, NJ, USA, +1 973 275 2033