October will be a busy month for art lovers in Newark thanks to the efforts of resident artist and curator Matthew Gosser, an NJIT adjunct faculty member. Gosser’s latest work, “Theater Town,” a huge outdoor mural, on the rear wall of 441 Broad Street, has no doubt stirred the interest of downtowners.
The piece depicts theaters that once enlivened Newark’s cultural life. It will dovetail with a similarly-themed art show to be held at NJIT. “Theater Town,” the show, which is co-sponsored by the Newark Arts Council and curated by Gosser, opens with a reception from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2009 and runs through Nov. 28. For more information, please call 973-596-3080.
And yet if all these riches weren’t enough, Gosser has curated yet another show: "Hard Times, Good Times: The Art of Michael Lenson," which will run through Dec. 20, 2009, at the Jewish Museum of New Jersey, on the second floor of historic Congregation Ahavas Sholom, 145 Broadway, Newark. An opening reception will be held Oct. 18, 2009, at 1 p.m. For more information, call (973) 484-2609.
The sizable mural, which faces the Broad Street train station, is 33 feet high and 60 feet wide. Initial support for the project came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through funds administered by the City of Newark through NewarkWORKS, the city agency responsible for the federal Workforce Investment Act programs. Learn more about this mural and six others on Oct. 24, 2009, from 3 p.m.-5 p.m., on a bus tour sponsored by the Newark art gallery, City Without Walls, which commissioned the project. Meet at 77 Market Street. For more information, please call 973-622-1188.
The Theater Town reception will be held in the Gallery of NJIT’s New Jersey School of Architecture and Design, located at Summit and Warren streets. “The event will feature live bands, food, good drinks and lots of interesting artwork and people,” said Gosser. The exhibit features photos, videos, paintings, drawings, collages, sculptures and more, all the work of some 40 contemporary artists, most of whom are from New Jersey.
Theatre Town is the latest Ar+chaeology exhibition to be hosted by NJIT. “Ar+chaeology” is an art movement concerned with the exploration of culturally significant abandoned buildings and the transformation of found artifacts into artwork that speaks somehow of the places they were found. Previous exhibitions of this nature have promoted a greater appreciation of sites such as the Pabst Brewery, the old Essex County Jail, the Mulberry Street Firehouse in downtown Newark and the Westinghouse Factory.
Gosser is recognized as a practitioner of Ar+chaeology. He graduated from NJIT in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. He received a master’s degree in infrastructure planning from NJIT in 2002. He belongs to the Newark Arts Collective, an affiliation of Newark-artists.
Lenson is best known as a 1930s Works Progress Administration muralist in New Jersey. Three of his murals survive today in Newark: "History of the Enlightenment of Man," at Weequahic High School, "History of Newark," at Newark City Hall and "The Four Freedoms," at the Fourteenth Avenue School. After World War II, Lenson continued painting as a realist.
In addition to his work as a muralist and portraitist, Lenson contributed to the cultural life of New Jersey, teaching at Rutgers University-Newark and the Montclair Art Museum, and serving as the art critic for the Newark Sunday News from 1956 until his death in 1971. His work has been exhibited at the Montclair Art Museum, the Newark Museum, the Princeton University Art Museum, and the Library of Congress, among others.
Photo courtesy of Michael Lenson