Montclair Art Museum Kicks Off African American History Month With Free First Thursday Night 

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Montclair Art Museum Kicks Off African American History Month With Free First Thursday Night

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originally published: 01/24/2017

Montclair Art Museum Kicks Off African American History Month With Free First Thursday Night(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Enjoy a night out at the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) with free general admission, live music, art activities and tours, dynamic seasonal programming, and a full-service bar at Free First Thursday Night, February 2, 5:00pm–9:00pm. Free First Thursday Nights are made possible by TD Bank.

Celebrate African American History Month with MAM! Artist Janet Taylor Pickett will be on site for a meet and greet from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. She will answer questions about the artwork and inspiration behind her solo exhibition The Matisse Series, on view at MAM through June 18, 2017. The exhibition explores the dialogue between Taylor Pickett’s artwork and that of renowned French artist Henri Matisse with 76 collages, as well as 4 hand-made books. Taylor Pickett often juxtaposes images of African sculpture, textiles, and cultural elements, with details from Matisse’s work, typically procured from exhibition catalogue reproductions. This multi-cultural conversation is at the heart of her complex, archetypal work, which often features portraits of the artist herself.

Then, at 7:00pm, the Museum’s African American Cultural Committee will host a discussion, “Photo Biographies: Telling Our Story.” View early photographs of African American individuals who were part of the Great Migration and hear from their descendants in a dynamic panel discussion. The Great Migration began around 1916 as African Americans moved north to take advantage of higher wages and better living conditions, but many found jobs in factories, slaughterhouses, and foundries, where the work was grueling and often dangerous. “It’s an American question and we can only answer partially. Our engagement and investigation in celebration of Black history is in part the quest of the iconic American question, ‘Where are your people from?’ This exercise is part of the answer,” said panelist Shirley A. R. Lewis, PhD.

Following the panel, at 8:00pm, Teka-Lark Lo, founder and literary curator of Blk Grrrl Book Fair, will host a read-aloud. Formerly the “Tracks” columnist at LA City Beat, her book Queen of Inglewood is a satirical critique on neoliberalism.

Live music in the galleries will also celebrate African American heritage with performances by the Silver Foxes and drummer Roderick Jackson. The Silver Foxes include Rhonda Denet (vocals), David McDowell (sax), Michael Bardash (keys), Gene Torres (bass), and Chuck Batton (drums) and feature a collection of jazz and soul standards from the 1930s through the 1960s, paying tribute to song stylists from Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin. Roderick Jackson specializes in the rhythms, dances, and instruments involved in multiple cultures, including those of Afro-Brazilian, West African, South African, Angolan, Korean, and Haitian origin. He was recently a participant in the Museum’s interactive do it exhibition.

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Guests can also start their Valentine’s Day celebrations early with an evening at MAM. Montclair’s own Makeready Gallery will share their collection of antique Valentines from as early as 1910. Plus, relax with a complimentary chair massage from Elements Montclair.

Discover your creativity at Free First Thursday Night! MAM’s Yard School of Art Draw Along Workshop offers a free session with a clothed model and guided art instruction with Julian Tejera. Stop by the Green Screen Visual Effects Demonstration in the 3rd Floor Digital Media Lab to travel the world with the click of a button! Capture a unique profile pic in front of a green screen and apply the background of your choice. Kids’ Creativity Center also allows parents to enjoy the full Free First Thursday Night experience while kids are engage in art-making. During this drop-off workshop, children (ages 5+) will learn to use fine art materials in an age-appropriate project led by experienced art educators. A separate charge applies for Kids’ Creativity Center, and one-hour time slots can be reserved in advance at

Free First Thursday Night spotlights MAM’s exhibitions with tours at 6:30pm and 7:30pm. Discover their Native American collection at 6:30pm, and explore Janet Taylor Pickett: The Matisse Series with a docent at 7:30p.m.

The Art Bar at MAM, a cornerstone of Free First Thursday Night, is now in partnership with Krug Catering at Orange Lawn Tennis Club. Try new signature cocktails, or sip wine while taking in the art in Lehman Court. The exclusive beer of Free First Thursday Night is NJ Beer Co. and Museum members receive an exclusive discount at the bar. Grab a bite from February’s featured food trucks, Ann’s Catering and Bro-Ritos!

In recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, the Museum is also collecting teen items for Jersey Battered Women’s Service. Bring DVDs, CDs, USBs, teen novels, etc. to support JBWS’s full-service domestic violence and abuse prevention agency.

Free First Thursday Nights take place the first Thursday of the month (October–June) from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. For an up-to-date schedule of upcoming Free First Thursday Nights, click here. The special exhibition fee for Matisse and American Art will apply for visitors who want to see that exhibition during March–June First Thursday Nights. General admission to the evening and wide variety of activities will remain free. 



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