I moved to New Jersey in 2009. I lived in Belleville but I was drawn to Newark and was there once or twice per week, working, networking or just hanging out. I had never before been among such a diverse group of people and personalities. Occupations ran the gamut from artists and scholars, to lawyers, politicians, entrepreneurs and more. I immediately felt a connection to Newark. The people who lived, worked and played in Newark were the exact crowd I needed to be around. Being in Newark with this group of people, some of whom have now become my friends, felt effortless and organic. I didn't feel out of place -- It felt like home. The New Jersey Arts Annual Ready or Not exhibit, now at Newark Museum, not only feels like it belongs in Newark, the place I have I come to know and love, it feels like a near complete representation of Newark's current culture.
"The New Jersey Arts Annual is a unique series of exhibitions that highlights the work of visual artists in the state." Ready or Not features works from 40 artists at different points of their careers. According to Shlomit Dror, Newark Museum's Consulting Curator of American Art, " the show's title metaphorically proposes the possibilities for engagement, learning and insight that the artists' creativity offers at any given moment." The artists employ various mediums and styles to develop their pieces but I think they all reflect a unique interpretation and expression of cultural and social values that affect urban areas, particularly Newark.
In addition to works brought in to be exhibited in the space, there are other pieces unique to the Newark Museum that were created to utilize spaces that have long been unused. Among them is Exit Vestibule South, a light installation by Ariel Efron and Lucas Vickers, that makes use of the now unused original entrance to the Newark Museum.
I think I may have developed an emotional connection to this exhibit in much the same way I feel connected to Newark. Whatever your connection to Newark, this is an exhibit worth seeing, even if you are not "into art."