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Art All Night Trenton: Re-imagined and Re-born

By Chris Lillja,

originally published: 06/20/2024

Art All Night Trenton: Re-imagined and Re-born

Art All Night Trenton (AANT) has always been a vibrant and immersive celebration of art, culture, and the community that is Trenton, New Jersey. While the pandemic turned it into a virtual event, this highly-anticipated return to an in-person format brings together artists, performers, and art enthusiasts from all walks of life in the capital region, transforming part of the city into a colorful and lively hub of creativity. With its rich history and diverse artistic landscape, Trenton (and AANT's new home - the Trenton War Memorial Building) provides the perfect backdrop for this weekend-long extravaganza.

According to ArtWorks Staff, everything else about the event will be new, different, and improved. ArtWorks, Trenton's downtown visual arts center and the producer of AANT, "promotes artistic diversity by fostering creativity, learning, and appreciation of the arts," according to their mission statement. "Our exhibitions, workshops, and events make art an accessible experience for all, building community among and between art students of all ages, professional and amateur artists, inner city and suburban residents, die-hard art fans, and first-time art appreciators." The changes to the event are all intended to bring it more into alignment with that mission.

As the name suggests, Art All Night Trenton runs for a full day and night, allowing participants and attendees to experience a non-stop celebration of artistic expression. One small difference will be that the action will move online and virtual at midnight on Saturday. This is one of the lessons that was learned during the pandemic. Folks will be able to use technology to experience a wider range of media and formats. It will also give some of the staff a chance to grab some much-needed sleep or even a quick meal.

Art All Night Trenton: Re-imagined and Re-born

The Trenton War Memorial Building is the new home of Art All Night Trenton. Photo by Chris Lillja

At 6 AM on Sunday, the War Memorial Building will come alive again with its kaleidoscope of art installations, live performances, workshops, and panel discussions that engage visitors of all ages. This unique format sets Art All Night Trenton apart from many other art festivals, creating an immersive and unforgettable experience.

One of the most striking aspects of Art All Night Trenton is its inclusivity. The festival welcomes artists of all backgrounds and skill levels, giving them an opportunity to showcase their work to a very diverse audience. From seasoned professionals to emerging talents, the event provides a platform for artists to gain recognition, exposure, or simply the experience of sharing one's art with others. This open-door policy contributes to the festival's vibrant atmosphere, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among participants.

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Nasir Square, Education and Community Outreach Coordinator said: "From my standpoint, one of the newest components is the building itself - a historical landmark in our city. Activating it in this way provides a different kind of feel for AANT. It makes it feel very much more art-centered. I think that this is going to be one of the best years for us to get unknown voices heard. I will be moderating panel discussions with local artists and creatives of different backgrounds and different creative backgrounds - I think that's one of the newest components as well. I've been working with a bunch of different brands throughout the course of the past year, and they've all provided me with something really interesting and fun. Like some of the larger scale events that happen all across the country, I thought panel discussion would be really good just to be able to have a real intimate conversation with artists that people can just walk into. Doing the educational work that I do here, I find that a lot of students - and a lot of kids – have an understanding of "an artist" that is detached from their actual lived experience. The panel discussions will allow you to sit in and listen to the process, listen to the journeys, and listen to the hardships. I feel like that's arguably a new component where it's centered on what you do as much as is how you do it."

Art All Night Trenton: Re-imagined and Re-born

Photo by Chris Lillja

Managing Director Craig Shofed said: "So to me, this year is about letting people know that AANT is back! We're going to continue to do it, and it's going to be different. We're going to use the War Memorial Building in a good and creative way. It will really be about the community and the art, as opposed to the festival atmosphere. This is an exhibit, and it's got to be family-oriented. It's got to "activate" downtown. We will be highlighting local businesses that are open on the weekend. There are a lot of wonderful restaurants and cafes right around the corner on Warren St. Instead of food trucks, we will be steering people to the folks who are "doing it on the daily." Like a vision, in 3 years, you won't recognize it. It won't be the same event, but it will be something really special. We will always be highlighting art and the art community. It's kind of like ArtWorks – just, you know - super-sized! It's what we do every day here."

Marketing Coordinator Tishara Linares spoke about how even the branding and publicity efforts have shifted: "The rebranding of AANT was about focusing on the art, the artists, and the uniqueness of Trenton. We changed the formatting from just doing graphics to involving more people and interviews. We're getting the actual people behind the event on camera so we can make it more personalized. We are highlighting specific artists, specific entrepreneurs, and specific people in the area who are doing things that are giving back to the community. We will have a lot more technology in the event. We will have live interviews with different artists or specific people that are making things happen. We want to inspire new artists to think, 'Hey, I can be a part of this!' Because that's all it really takes. They can do it. It's very welcoming - anybody can be here and get started - and that's fantastic."

Art All Night Trenton: Re-imagined and Re-born

Photo by Chris Lilja

Art All Night will be returning to Trenton at the War Memorial Building on June 29 and 30. Come out and support hundreds of local artists as they "occupy" one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in the state. I think it's going to be glorious! The venue is air-conditioned, and there will be plenty of free parking in the NJ State Complex parking lots. It will be slightly less of a wild, all-night 'festival' party vibe but more art and genuine community-building. It will be even more family-friendly than in the past. Anyone can submit art and/or attend the event for free. Consider making a small donation or volunteering - you have until this Saturday to submit art or volunteer. Or just go and enjoy on 6/29-6/30!

Art All Night, Trenton, NJ | June 29-30, 2024

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About the author: I have devoted my career to education, art and photography. The love of art, compassion, and the expression of human dignity drives my work. I am a mechanic, reader, maker, and sometimes baker in my spare time. My formative years were spent on the farms of Ringoes and working in the family machine shop on Pennsylvania Avenue in Trenton. I left the area for a few years to get a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in theater. When I returned to New Jersey, I found it had become a wildly diverse cultural and culinary wonderland, just minutes from Philly and New York City. I dig these roots; things are just getting really interesting.

Content provided by Discover Jersey Arts, a project of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.



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