Rave Reviews for Newark's "Open Doors Arts Festival"

Oct 24, 2017

Poet and playwright Ntozake Shange talks with visitors of the City Without Walls exhibit that pays tribute to her work
Credit Kenny Miles for WBGO

The art scene in Newark continues to grow. One of the exhibits featured in the city’s annual festival will be up through November.  The 16th annual Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival is Newark’s biggest celebration of the arts.

Sponsored by Newark Arts, the festival was designed for the public to discover artist studios, galleries, and pop-up events in the downtown area. Lauren Craig, Marketing Manager for Newark Arts council believes Open Doors offers something for everyone.

"The great thing about open doors is that you will go out and see ethnicities of all kinds. You will see young and old, you’ll see artists and corporate people and the energy is fantastic."

With hundreds of local and international artists displaying their craft, visitors had an array of events, venues and exhibits to choose from.

One of the more popular exhibits, I Found God in Myself,  took place in the City Without Walls art gallery. The place was packed. All the artwork displayed there paid tribute to the critically acclaimed choreopoem, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, written by American playwright Ntozake Shange.

The term choreopoem, a form of dramatic expression that combines poetry, dance, music and song was first coined in 1975 by Shange in a description of her work. There were pieces using multicolored fabrics, melted candles and even a red ceramic bath tub.

Aisha Glover was one of the many visitors to "I Found God In Myself" exhibit at City Without Walls
Credit Kenny Miles for WBGO

The opening night reception for the exhibit was a night that festival-goer Aisha Glover will never forget.

"This exhibit is just phenomenal! It’s gorgeous, it’s empowering! It’s beautiful! I don’t even know what to say I’m at a loss for words. I love the vibe and I love the people. This is exactly what Newark is kind of built around, and it’s what it needs."

Featuring 10 commissioned artworks by nationally acclaimed artists the exhibit is on display at the City Without Walls gallery. City Without Walls Executive director, Fayemi Shakur, sees the festival bringing awareness of Newark’s exciting art scene.

"There are times when I talk to residents in Newark who tell me that they didn’t know that we have galleries in Newark, so I appreciate this effort that the Newark Arts council and that the collective arts community does every year to really open up the doors and expose even more the work that we are doing here."