Community members and staff of Femme Curator Arts Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District Gallery Without Walls paint mural in Newark. Photo credit: Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District

Art project reclaims Newark’s beauty, features strong artist community

A cluttered, back alley in Newark’s historic Lincoln Park livens up with artist inspiration.

Elbow grease and artistry rubbed life into a forgotten dead-end that was once a sore spot in Newark. In September, Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District (LPCCD) held community walk-throughs for its latest project, “Lincoln Park Gallery Without Walls” Alley Reclamation Mural Project. The initiative turned around a “dimly lit, desolate strip with little residential foot traffic,” said LPPCD in a release.

Along the narrow passageway is a vibrant mural titled, Black Girls Dream, by local artist Kween Moore. “It is truly an honor to see my work win on so many levels. This work belongs to my grandmother, my mother, all of my aunts and sisters who’ve come before me,” said Moore. 

Far from what it used to be, it took months and many hands to transform the public space. “The mural program our administration has created is expanding the creativity of our artists, inspires our community, and helps revitalize our city,” said the city’s mayor, Ras J. Baraka.

The home of “Lincoln Park Gallery Without Walls,” sits behind the historic New Ark Cathedral Church, which is now known as La Vid Verdadera en La Catedral New Ark. The alleyway is also behind the Lincoln Park neighborhood and the Dryden Mansion. Historically, the manor was the primary home of John F. Dryden, founder of Prudential Insurance Company and United States Senator from New Jersey. 

Gallery Without Walls alley before transformation. Photo credit: Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District
Design concept from Kween Moore that won her the distinction to be the muralist for the art initiative. Photo credit: Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District
Community and volunteers paint the new mural in Newark. Photo credit: Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District

With all of its rich history, the area of the city became a haven for COVD crime. To curb the growing safety issues, LPCCD reached out to the city for some assistance. “When we came up with the idea, we didn’t know it was owned by the city. When we found out, we got permission to clean it up,” Kim Ford told Ark Republic. Ford, who is head of BRND Marketing Group, the marketing and events agency for LPCCD.

The project, carried out in several phases; firstly, included a serious clean up job. Along with pulling out weeds from overgrown spaces and other unsavory refuse, they had to bring a mega-blower to whoosh out a lot of “hazardous waste.” 

The muralist to design the space, Moore, was selected by a committee. Moore, who is the lead curator for Femme Curator Arts said she wanted to create a “space for Black and brown girl artists like [her].” Moore added, “Black Girls Dream is the celebration of our women, who we are in the world and most importantly, how we see ourselves in light.  We are bold and live in color . . . We move in waves and hues of color, popping out all over the world.”

While the clean up and mural layout finished as fall began to chill, the city has yet to really employ the space. However, LPCCD did host a night of “Turbans and Toddies,” in December, to celebrate another small, but impactful feat of splashing life and color back into the city.

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