ACTIVATE: Market Street Featured Artist Jerry Gant


CONTACT: Evonne M. Davis Artistic Director Ph. (917) 226-7821

 Unusual Suspects: Jerry Gant February 22 – May 24, 2014 Opening Feb 22 7-10 PM

An Artistic Meditation of the Black Male Image in America
Curated by Linda Street of Pink Dragon Syndicate and Gallery Aferro for Activate: Market Street

 New for 2014: city’s single largest multi-site exhibition of public art by a solo artist

 Newark, NJ: Gallery Aferro is proud to present Unusual Suspects, a multi-site public art installation by one of Newark’s most recognizable artistic forces, artist, muralist and performance poet Jerry Gant.  Utilizing expressive, arresting imagery, the project is a deeply considered response to local as well as national events, and includes one hundred newly commissioned aerosol portraits of African-American men, as well as dramatic projection-based installation lighting up the nighttime street view. Related public programming, including a photo shoot performance by one hundred African-American men, will unfold throughout the spring.

Artist and cultural theorist Lisa Bradley, writes in an essay commissioned for the project: “…You know these men, and love them… But understand this: Gant’s men require an investment…viewers are charged with confronting mainstream paradigmatic thought: systems of ideas and beliefs that posits the Black male body as an abomination to be feared and loathed as a matter of course, or objectified, at best. Instead, Gant’s figures, from fresh youth to most distinguished elder, hold the participant accountable for the formation of ideas surrounding the representation of these bodies: our dreams, hopes, desires are all accessed.”

With the project, we seek to humanize and return nuance to various interrelated dialogues about the city: about media coverage of violence, about perception, about the creative contributions of a multigenerational continuum of artists of all colors active for decades. Gallery Aferro Artistic Director Evonne M. Davis reflects: “I met Jerry within a month of first coming to Newark in 2003. We met because he was reciting his poetry and I heard it through the floorboards. When Gallery Aferro reopened downtown in 2006, he was invited to be our inaugural studio resident. Our trajectories have run parallel over the last decade: the gallery has grown and added many new programs, including Activate; Market Street, and Jerry has executed numerous public art commissions for the city. Now, we’ve joined forces to create this exciting new offering for the people of Newark.”

About the artist:

As a multi-disciplined visual fine artist, arts educator, activist and self-driven historian, Jerry Gant seeks to create work which reflects the human spirit of the community’s  people, while challenging conventional thinking. A native of Newark, New Jersey, he has been a fixture on the arts and culture scene for more than 25 years. Jerry’s long list of accomplishments span the literary, performing and visual arts boasting numerous solo projects and group exhibitions, as well as outstanding critical reviews and awards. He has cultivated projects ‘outside the cube’ to heighten the exposure of a fine art aesthetic in urban communities.  Before there was a formal mural arts program in Newark, Jerry Gant was developing a repertoire of murals that can be viewed in every ward in the city. In the past decade he has been commissioned to create permanent public artworks by Verizon, NJ Transit, and the Trust for Public Land, with the latter featuring 13 sculptures installed at Nat Turner Park, the largest city-owned park in Newark.  In a city filled with memorial statues and monuments dating back to the 1800s, Jerry Gant is proud to be the only contemporary artist with multiple public sculpture works installed throughout his beloved hometown.

About the program:

Activate: Market Street,” is a new, year-round public art project transforming more than 100 linear feet of vacant storefront windows in Newark’s historic downtown district with films, animation, neon sculptures, kinetic and interactive art, and other kinds of self-illuminated artworks from local, national and international artists. Supported by RBH Group, and created by Gallery Aferro, the project delivers arresting, unexpected, and highly memorable experiences with contemporary art directly to the public, whether residents, students, workers or first-time visitors, at 75 Market Street, 77 Market Street and 85 Market Street.





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