HISTORY IN THE ARTS AND LANDMARKS
Newark is most known as New Jersey’s largest city, or the third oldest city in the United States. Since the Newark riots, the city has had a negative reputation, highlighting despair, poverty, and crime through the lens of mainstream media. It wasn’t until recently the Brick City started getting recognition for its cultural, visual, and performing arts scene.
Brick City has always had a history of fostering a creative community of the arts to rival major cities like New York and Los Angeles. Not every city has a “protect the arts” initiative like Newark Arts, Project For Empty Space and the City Of Newark helping with resources, allowing art to thrive. Prior to l the COVID19 pandemic, Newark was in an art renaissance leading the city to be known as “The City Of The Arts,” as Mayor Ras Baraka likes to call the Brick City, a quote from the New York Times.
Arts High opened its doors in Newark in 1931, the first performing arts high school. The school has and continues to develop and nurture talents such as Sarah Vaughn, Tisha Campbell, Michael B.Jordan, MJ Rodriguez, Savion Glover, and Jasmine Mans, to name a few.
Newark is a staple for jazz music known for artists like Arts high Alum Wayne Shorter and Woody Shaw and WBGO, the first public radio station in New Jersey and the New York area’s only jazz station.
Music has always had a heavy influence and history in Brick City, known hometown to artists like Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, Redman, and hip-hop trio Lords of the underground, inspiring waves of rappers and hip-hop artists to come. Club music has an origin history in Newark, inspiring dancers everywhere and expanding worldwide with artists like Dj Wallah and Dj Lil man.
Newark has historical landmarks as art venues like Newark Museum of Art, the largest museum in New Jersey and Symphony Hall, the oldest and largest entertainment venue in New Jersey. Our arts and cultural scene are finally becoming attractive nationally. Our narrative starts to shift with venues like NJPAC, host of Black Girls Rock, and performing arts performances to Prudential center housing the MTV VMAs in 2019, not to mention having the longest mural on the east coast.
With Hannibal Goodwin’s creation of nitrocellulose film in Newark in 1887, the city is considered the birthplace of the movie picture industry, Since then, Newark has built a strong community for filmmakers with indie film festivals like Newark International, Women In Media International, and Newark Black Film Festival, the longest-running black film festival in the United States. There are small photo studio incubators for the photography fashion, and videographer community like Portrait Shine Studio, Equal Space, Ironbound Studios Newark Land Collective, and independent fashion apparel brands like The Nork Project and The Proclamation Collection, and indie publication the Artist Eye Fashion Magazine.
BRICK CITY MUSIC’S SOUL
As we tell our story within the city of Newark, we highlight the creative scene, artists, and culture supporting mediums of the arts, both young and experienced. From small intimate art galleries, such as Gallery Aferro and Akwaaba Gallery to outdoor art galleries, the likes of Four Corners Public Art and Abington Walls, curating art created by mural collectives like RORSHACH graffiti. We showcase Newark’s open mics, Cry Out Cave, Funk U Cafe, Vibes In The City, and Evoculture to name a few. Artist market place, First Fridays, festivals (Lincoln park music festival Brick City Jam Festival, and Newark Arts Festival), supporting the music, poetry, and D.J. community.
We magnify the well-known and independent established music, art, and dance venues and incubators, Mary Mike House, vibes after dark, Linkup Tuesdays and E-Skillz’s dance house. We tell the story of Newark’s artist’s creative resilience in creating a path of its own, and where community artists from elsewhere can grow.
This community inspires The Theory Of Brick City Music as we capture relatable stories of fictional artists in Newark’s creative ecosystem. Through Josue’s eyes as a musician and singer, Dre as a D.J and producer, and Eli as a rapper and choir director. We see them strive to make it in their crafts.
We see Newark artists, creatives, entrepreneurs, and everyday people do as “Norkers” do, creating new ways to innovate and persevere. Making a compelling story that all ages can enjoy and appreciate the current artistic evolution growing in the city of Newark.
” There’s a lot going on: art, poetry, music. Some of our best artists came out of Newark because it has maintained its integrity; no one has run over to gentrify it.”
– Constance Hansen