Matt Gosser, an adjunct instructor of architecture at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), will be honored by the Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee for making furniture, sculpture and art from objects he salvaged at the former Pabst Brewery.
Gosser, 34, of Newark, displayed his found-object art during a recent NJIT exhibit, “The Death and After-life of the Pabst Brewery,” at The New Jersey School of Architecture (NJSOA) gallery. The exhibit also featured Gosser’s photographs and videos of the brewery as well as artwork from nine other Newark artists.
“Matt is an adventurer and his approach to preservation is extremely creative,” said Douglas Eldridge, executive director of the Preservation and Landmarks Committee. “He’s saved pieces of an old industrial site and turned that into art. In so doing he has focused attention on the value and beauty of Newark’s industrial past.”
The committee will give Gosser a certificate of appreciation during an awards ceremony on Feb. 28, 2006, from 5-7 p.m. in NJIT’s Eberhardt Hall.
The Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee is the only private organization devoted to saving, restoring and promoting the city’s rich historical and architectural heritage. Since 1973 the committee has helped save and restore irreplaceable structures and sculptures and won official protection and public appreciation for many landmarks.
Hundreds of people visited Gosser’s art exhibit, including some who had worked at the brewery.
“It’s a great honor to be cited by the preservation committee,” said Gosser, “and the best part of making the art and doing the exhibit was meeting the folks who worked at the brewery. They were the ones who made Pabst what it was. The exhibit brought some of them together again; it was touching for me to see that.”
To Gosser’s eye, the brewery constituted a treasured part of Newark’s history and he vowed to save whatever he could from the brewery. The 60-foot high beer bottle atop the Pabst Brewery’s roof was for decades a fixture of the Newark skyline. The brewery closed, though, in 1986 and crews began demolishing the 24 buildings on the site.
So last summer Gosser clambered through the wreckage of the brewery, salvaging architectural drawings, employee records, gears, machine parts and conveyor belts – out of which he made art. He even found paintings done by a homeless man – a squatter - who had lived in the abandoned brewery. The paintings done by the homeless man, as well a sculpture that Gosser made from the man’s clothes, occupied two walls of the exhibit.
Gosser’s exhibit was a touching evocation of a vanishing bit of Newark history. Gosser fashioned a death mask from the hundreds of black and white photos of Pabst employees he found at the site. He made a lounge chair from conveyor belts; a chandelier from old metal bottling parts; a 10-foot tall flower from metal pieces and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans, and a large-scale model of the brewery constructed from old circuit boards.
“We feel that Gosser’s exhibit was historic and reflected an important part of Newark’s history and economic development,” said James Dyer, associate dean at NJSOA. “The exhibit welded architecture, history and the city of Newark into a highly visible presentation. We are confident that many fond memories of Newark’s pre-eminent role in brew-making came to the forefront by way of Matt’s creative and unique work.”