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Jerry Gant 1961-2018

By Emma Wilcox for Gallery Aferro, Newark

originally published: 11/27/2018

Jerry Gant 1961-2018Jerry,

There is no bio that will seem complete for you. Where would it be listed, amongst your numerous and diverse accomplishments, that you talked to people, always seemed to find time for the younger artists, to talk to them and look at their sketchbooks? Your use of language as a material, testing limits, associations, and possibilities. Your immense, roving interest in artists and cultural history of all kinds. Your investigations of so many materials and techniques: wood, metal, wire, salvage, denim, cotton, vinyl, glass, inks, pigment, aerosol, shadow; and your experimental, sometimes ephemeral mark making with snow, leaves, light...you could find a face in anything. And give it a soul. Your involvement in everything. The way encountering your work is magical, and sustaining. Your underconversations, depth, empathy, and humor. Your generosity, curiosity, idiosyncrasy, tenacity, and honesty.

You are loved.

Jerry Gant was one of Newark’s most recognizable artistic forces, an artist, muralist, griot, and performance poet. As a multi-disciplined visual fine artist, arts educator, activist and self-driven historian, Gant sought  to create work which reflects the human spirit of the community’s people, while challenging conventional thinking. A native of Newark, New Jersey, he was a legendary fixture on the arts and culture scene for more than 25 years.

Gant’s long list of accomplishments span the literary, performing and visual arts, boasting numerous solo projects and group exhibitions including Longwood Art Gallery (Bronx, NY), Danny Simmons Corridor Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), New York State Museum (Albany, NY), and Oulaie Art (Orange, NJ), amongst many others, as well as outstanding critical reviews, including two instances where New York Times art critics, visiting exhibits at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art (Newark, NJ) indicated he had stolen the show! Grant was interviewed for countless documentaries, the subject of critical essays by Dr. Nell Painter (Paul Robeson Galleries), and Lisa Bradley (Pink Dragon Artist Syndicate and Gallery Aferro), with the latter accompanying an ambitious, hybridized Newark project at Gallery Aferro, Unusual Suspects, which included public art, performances, workshops, panel, and invitational photographs of 100 men of color, modeled on Art Caine’s Great Day in Harlem. He is the subject of a feature length documentary, The Gantalist by DuBois Ashong, and is featured in Stencil Pirates by Softskull Press and Bulletproof Ambition | The Art and Courage of Jerry Gant 2004-2009, a limited edition e-book by Linda Street.



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Gant got his start as a 1980’s street “graf ” (graffiti) artist in New York City and Newark. His powerful street murals can be seen in major urban centers across the nation and worldwide: New York City, Boston, London, but most of all, in his hometown city. In the early 1990s, Gant joined the New York City spoken word-open mic circuit, and often performed at Newark’s Café Genesis as well as the African Globe Theatre. He studied and taught widely throughout the tristate area; a mentor and youth coordinator and an individual on a lifelong program of self education. He cultivated projects ‘outside the cube’ to heighten the exposure of a fine art aesthetic in urban communities.  Working with librarian Jared Ash, he co-organized a project for the Newark Library Special Collections focusing on pochoir stencil art. His work is in numerous private and public collections.

Jerry Gant 1961-2018

Before there was a formal mural arts program in Newark, he was developing a repertoire of street art that can be viewed in every ward in the city.  In the past decade he was commissioned to create permanent public artworks by Verizon, NJ Transit, the Newark Housing Authority, and the Trust for Public Land, with the latter featuring 13 sculptures installed at Nat Turner Park, the largest city-owned park in Newark. As the first Gallery Aferro Artist-in-Residence, he later credited his 2006-2007 residency experience as leading to this commission. His studio at 31 Central Ave, Newark’s longest-running artist building until the recent sale of the building for development, was a well-known cultural space, with his artistic presence extending to the four corners of the intersection of Central and Halsey streets.

Jerry Gant 1961-2018

In a city filled with memorial statues and monuments dating back to the 1800s, Jerry Gant was proud to be the only contemporary artist with multiple public sculpture works installed throughout his beloved hometown. Most recently he was one of 14 national artists selected by Aljira’s Victor Davson and RUSH Arts Danny Simmons  to create public art for the Fairmont Art Wall, designed by architect David Adjaye. Siddhartha Mitter, reviewing the project, dubbed him a “Newark savant,” a distinguished sage of culture.

Jerry Gant 1961-2018






Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series Presents "The Erotic as Power: Sexuality and the Black Experience"
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The erotic is often seen as a realm of oppression and danger. But, as Audre Lorde argued 40 years ago, it also contains the potential for empowerment and struggle. This tension will be explored as the 39th annual Marion Thompson Wright (MTW) Lecture Series brings together eminent scholars and performers to examine the poltical and social lives of the erotic in the African American experience.
West Windsor Arts Council presents Faculty Student Show
(PRINCETON JUNCTION, NJ) -- Every day students of all ages come to the West Windsor Arts Center to expand their knowledge and experiment with art and creativity. Whether they are adults or children, they take classes in order to try something new or hone their skills by learning from some of the best teaching artists in the region. Classes are offered in many artistic media including painting, drawing, and sculpting as well as fashion design, photography and the literary and performing arts. The annual Faculty Student Show aims to provide the experience of submitting and preparing their work for a professional exhibition as well.
Monmouth University Hosts Artist Talk with Sherrill Roland about "The Jumpsuit Project"
(WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- The Center for the Arts at Monmouth University will host artist Sherrill Roland  on Tuesday, January 29 at 4:30pm in Wilson Hall Auditorium, to discuss his socially engaged artwork The Jumpsuit Project — that he uses to ignite conversations around issues related to mass incarceration.
Art House Productions Presents 13th Annual Snow Ball Gala
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Join Art House Productions and presenting sponsor SILVERMAN for their 13th Annual Snow Ball Gala on Saturday, January 26th, 2018 from 7:00pm- 12:00am with VIP beginning at 6:00pm (Snow date: Saturday, February 2nd) at Art House’s location at the Cast Iron Lofts, 262 17th St, Jersey City, NJ.  This year’s Snow Ball features live music from Cook Thugless ("Cook Thugless are one of the coolest bands in New Jersey." -Bob Makin, My Central Jersey), live and silent auctions from Grandstand Sports, including sports memorabilia, local art pieces, and exclusive weekend getaways.
Palette ArtSpace Presents "Cold Pop!" with Robert Piersanti and Faustine Badrichani
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Palette ArtSpace presents "Cold Pop!" by Robert Piersanti, now through January 27. The exhibit brings a touch of summer to a cold January with paintings of mermaids, surfers and more. Piersant's work features 1950s and 1960s pop culture with locals as subjects. He's shown work from the local area to Miami and Milan.  The exhibit also features new paintings of women by Faustine Badrichani, a French artist in New York who has shown at Palette previously. Admission to the gallery is free and open to the public.


Siblings' Interaction from "Different Sides of the Brain" Leads to Sotheby's Exhibit for Artists with Disabilities
Growing up in Watchung, NJ, it was clear that Brad and Dana Chernock’s interests and aptitudes gravitated toward “different sides of the brain”.  Brad was drawn toward medicine and science; His younger sister Dana’s passion was the arts. Through the years, Dana recalls, “Brad and I often shared articles and events with each other that combined science/technology with the arts.” But even they are surprised at where this collaborative approach has recently taken them. 
Inside New Jersey Stage Magazine Issue 54
(BELMAR, NJ) -- The latest issue of New Jersey Stage magazine contains something for every arts fan.  Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, John Oates, is the cover story in an issue packed with music, film, theatre, and art coverage.  The issue is available for free at www.NJArtsMag.com 
Nick Kiefer In Iceland
Nick Kiefer is an award winning graphic designer and photographer based out of Asbury Park, NJ. He is currently the Art Director at Netwave Interactive - a branding and advertising agency in Point Pleasant. NJ. Nick has also been designing and photographing in the NJ music scene for more than half his life. He has designed dozens of record covers and gig posters for local musicians in the Asbury Park area. After a heavy year packed with work, he and his fiancé Kristina, decided to roam around Iceland for a few weeks back in October of 2018. Here are some photos from the trip.
Peter Max Remembers Frank Sinatra
(HOBOKEN, NJ) -- As fans of Frank Sinatra across the world remember the legendary entertainer on what would have been his 103th birthday (December 12th), pop artist Peter Max provides a series of portraits of 'Ol' Blue Eyes' at different points throughout his career. Max, with a 5 decades-long career of his own, created these signature, vibrantly colored portraits, working with the Sinatra family to celebrate the Sinatra Centennial in 2015. They remain a fan favorite at gallery shows across the country.
Jerry Gant 1961-2018
Jerry, There is no bio that will seem complete for you. Where would it be listed, amongst your numerous and diverse accomplishments, that you talked to people, always seemed to find time for the younger artists, to talk to them and look at their sketchbooks? Your use of language as a material, testing limits, associations, and possibilities.

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Siblings' Interaction from "Different Sides of the Brain" Leads to Sotheby's Exhibit for Artists with Disabilities

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Growing up in Watchung, NJ, it was clear that Brad and Dana Chernock’s interests and aptitudes gravitated toward “different sides of the brain”.  Brad was drawn toward medicine and science; His younger sister Dana’s passion was the arts. Through the years, Dana recalls, “Brad and I often shared articles and events with each other that combined science/technology with the arts.” But even they are surprised at where this collaborative approach has recently taken them. 


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PODCAST: An Artist Asks "The 20 Most Important Scientific Questions Of The 21st Century"

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In this podcast, we speak with them about art, activism and how women invented Postmodernism. “The 20 Most Important Scientific Questions of the 21st Century” runs through December 14th at Douglass Library.


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We recently met up with artist Mel Leipzig at Artworks in Trenton. He was there to do what he does every day – create big paintings of people he likes. While the Artworks staff went about their business getting the space ready for this year’s Art All Day event, happening this Saturday, Mel pulled a few of them aside to capture them in their natural habitat in acrylic.








Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 24, 2019


THEATRE
"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

American Theater Group: Tell Them I’m Still Young @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 7:30pm


Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm


MISC

Josh Gates Live! @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:30pm

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