WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Arts Council is hosting pop-up exhibits at the gallery on Valley Road in West Orange for the summer, hosting small shows to showcase the work of local artists for a month at a time. The second of the three shows is hanging on the gallery’s walls now, and will be up until July 29. It features a music workshop by Jody Guest and art from Sadee Brathwaite, James Horton and Barbara Motley.
“It’s really interesting because we put an open call out to the arts center,” WOAC Chairwoman Patricia Mitrano said in a phone interview with the West Orange Chronicle on July 13. “We talked about their work and got about two or three per show.”
According to Mitrano, the WOAC was looking for a way to expand their gallery hours and draw in more visitors. The smaller exhibits allow more artists to display their work, while also being a part of the community.
“We’ve been working on getting people to come visit,” Mitrano said. “Because once they come visit and see the space and how great it is, they want to come back. You get to exhibit your work, but you also have to give back to the gallery with time, being there to talk about your art.”
Horton is premiering a series of photographs inspired by New York subway scenes, flowers and nature. And Motley, the creator of 4 BMADE Designs, is showcasing her fashions.
“Having a smaller number of artists exhibiting gives them more room,” Mitrano said of the pop-up shows. “It gives them room to show a whole series if they want to.”
She met Brathwaite at the Yema Gallery in Orange, where Brathwaite is a resident artist until December. The art displayed in the WOAC gallery are paintings Brathwaite has shown before and wanted to show again.
“Some are older, I wanted to put them in the world again instead of them sitting in a closet,” Brathwaite said in a phone interview with the Chronicle on July 13. “The show has been opening up a lot of other opportunities for me. They’re encouraging artists to be there and I’m meeting a lot of people by coming in and talking to them about it.”
This is her first time working with the WOAC, and Brathwaite has four pieces currently in the show. They are part of a series called “Sitting in the Dark,” images of people shadowed in dark colors. She said her work fits in well with the other artists’ pieces.
“Each of us has our own style,” she said. “I think all of us are working with a specific vision. We’re working well together. It’s not cohesive, but it plays off each other nicely.”
As part of the July pop-up exhibit, West Orange resident and musician Jody Guest put together the “Cypher and Sound” workshop, where poets and songwriters could workshop their art in the gallery. On July 12, Guest hosted writers to connect with on another, and is hoping to host another event again in September.
“It’s a songwriter’s workshop, people can come out and express themselves in a variety of ways,” Guest said in a phone interview with the Chronicle on July 16. “Everybody shares what they’ve worked on.”
Guest has used the work presented to promote the artwork hanging in the gallery, saying that the WOAC was the perfect location for the project.
“Whoever wants to come and read their piece can,” he said. “They’ve played off of each other really well. It helps to promote the art in the gallery. I’ve lived in West Orange for 10 years and I didn’t see any workshops surrounding what I do.”
This is the first time Guest has worked with the WOAC, and he said the partnership has worked out well.
“Things are so chaotic in the world right now, and I’m creating an environment where people can be heard,” he said. “Everybody interacts with the subjects in their own way, and it brings people working in different elements together. It’s been great; it’s been a perfect storm of ideas.”
Photos Courtesy of Sadee Brathwaite and Patricia Mitrano