Gallery Aferro is proud to have hosted “Activate: Market Street,” a year-round public art project transforming hundreds of linear feet of vacant storefront windows in Newark’s historic downtown district. The project ran for five years, from 2013 to its last iteration in 2018. During that time, several storefronts owned by RBH Group on Market Street between Washington and University Streets were activated nightly 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 delivered arresting, unexpected, and highly memorable experiences with contemporary art directly to the public, whether residents, students, workers or first-time visitors.
The project rotated seasonally, corresponding with Gallery Aferro’s award-winning exhibition programming and events taking place in an RBH building at 73 Market Street, where the gallery has been headquartered since 2006. According to Evonne M. Davis, Gallery Aferro Co-Founder and Artistic Director, “We want to bring art directly to any willing audience. This project represents something we at Gallery Aferro have been working towards for many years. I’ve guest-curated guerilla film screenings in storefronts in Brooklyn and Jersey City, and am proud to be curating for a Newark audience on such an ambitious scale.”
Inspired by Gallery Aferro’s exhibition featuring neon sculptures by French artist Fanny Allie in the windows along Market Street, RBH Group wanted to see more of such activation of the streetscape. “We are excited to be working with Gallery Aferro on this innovative project”, says RBH Group CEO Ron Beit. “With our Teachers Village Project currently under construction and the Four Corners Millennium Project now underway, the Activate Market Street initiative is a precursor to the transformation this part of downtown will be experiencing in the months and years to come.”
In collaboration with RBH Group, Gallery Aferro conceptualized the project from a deeply felt understanding of a 24-hour city. Cities that are vibrant and livable have streetscapes that provide both unexpected excitement as well as spaces for peaceful contemplation. We believe in art experiences that are simultaneously accessible, challenging, and pleasurable. Gallery Aferro has executed numerous successful projects that activated vacant or underutilized spaces for cultural experiences open to all. These have included storefront and building exterior projection screenings, community drop-in tintype portrait days and the 48 Hour Line, an all night nonstop drawing fest. We draw inspiration from sources such as Creative Time’s early work in Times Square, from the European tradition of all-night art festival Nuite Blanches, from the use of neon and film by the Kunsthalle Detroit Museum of Multi-Media and Light-Based Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, from New York City’s Lumen Festival, and from the nationwide placemaking movement.
Gallery Aferro continues to host Activate: Market Street Perennial and looks forward to bringing our curatorial vision to storefronts outside of our Market Street block.
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Get involved: The public are asked to tag all photos they take of the project and/or themselves with it with @GalleryAferro and @Activate:Market to take the project from the street to Facebook!
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For more information on RBH’s Teachers Village Project, see:
Accessing the Gallery
Activate: Market Street is a grouping of street level installations on display 24/7 and are intended for viewing by pedestrians on the sidewalk. Gallery Aferro’s gallery hours during exhibitions are every Wed-Sat 12-6pm, come by for a visit! Gallery Aferro is a street level store front gallery and is wheelchair accessible. If you need special assistance, requests, or desire additional information about accessibility, please email our ADA Coordinator, Evonne Davis, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We believe art is absolutely for everyone and are very happy to accommodate anyone’s needs but please give us 1 weeks notice for any arrangements that will need to be made at the gallery. If you require large print press materials please let us know 48 hours ahead of time.