Art All Day 2013
This Saturday, November 9, is Trenton’s second annual Art All Day open studio and creative space tour. We hear a lot about the transformative power of the arts – sometimes so much so that we can lose sight of what that means in the real world. Few places in New Jersey are realer than Trenton, and if events like Art All Day don’t transform our state’s capital into a utopian colony of artists overnight, they can certainly give us a new map of the city by which to navigate – in this case, literally.
On the standard map, there’s the State House with its gold-leafed dome, George Washington’s old barracks (on Barrack Street, of course), and the “Trenton Makes, The World Takes” bridge, New Jersey’s most classic brag. But on the Art All Day map – available online the day of the event – Trenton is illuminated, revealed to be a little universe of art, its points of interest a multitude of studios, galleries, notable public art, and all kinds of eclectic events – a molten iron pour at the AbOminOg International Arts Collective, and the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market, for example.
“Many people over the years have talked about connecting the artists and creative people in the city in some way, and last year I figured it was time for someone to actually do it. So, Art All Day was born.” Says Lauren Otis, Founding Director of Art All Day. “In recent years, I’ve seen that Trenton has increasingly become a home to artists, studios, arts collectives. Some are veterans, established here for years, some are dynamic new arrivals. We all believe in the power of art and creativity to transform people and places, bring opportunity, reverse the effects of urban decay, and make our urban environment better. Simply put, I wanted to give those outside Trenton the opportunity to experience this transformation here, as it was occurring, so I set out to create Art All Day.”
More than 70 artists are participating. There are 28 sites to visit on the map – exhibits, workshops, demonstrations, poetry readings – and 32 public art pieces to visit – including works by Alexander Calder, Toshiko Takaezu, and George Segal. Visitors are invited to a day of free-range self-orienteering from 11 a.m.to 5 p.m. Your other two options are the Trenton Art Trolley Tour ($10) and the Wills Kins “special edition” Art All Day bike tours. The bike tours are Bring Your Own Bike, and are hosted by Trenton artist and bicycle enthusiast Wills Kins, who will be conducting two tours on Saturday, taking cyclists to see Trenton’s public art, murals, and artist sites.
There will be live painting going on all over the city: veteran realist painter and Trenton resident Mel Leipzig will be at work at the New Jersey State Museum, Will “Kasso” Condry will be set up outside the Trenton Downtown Association Gallery, and graffiti artists Mek and Lank will be at the Roebling Machine Shop. An artist himself, Lauren Otis will also be opening his studio at 750 Cass Street to the public.
“Over the 25 years I've lived in Trenton,” says Otis, “I've learned how many decent, hard-working, and creative people still call this city home. Many people read the news and think only negative things happen in Trenton. So, for one day, we give them a taste of the dynamic creativity here. We hope this will be the first step in showing why people should visit Trenton more regularly, to experience this creativity happening under their noses.”
Art All Day’s base of operations is 19 Everett Alley, the Artworks building, where patrons can park for free. With a mission to serve as “Trenton’s visual arts center, connecting community, culture and creativity through the arts," Artworks has been in operation for 50 years. (They also produce the very popular Art All Night.) The tour starts there, and ends there, followed by a reception in its main gallery, featuring the “Artists of Art All Day” group show, from 5 to 8 PM. After that, Art All Day attendees can walk right across the street to catch the world premiere (at a special Art All Day discount) of “True Story,” a “brainy, edge-of-your-seat thriller” by EM Lewis, at Mill Hill Playhouse.
The Art All Day tour is a great introduction to what might seem like an alternate-dimension version of Trenton, known more for bare-knuckle Jersey politics than its arts scene, especially during a season with more Election Days on the calendar than usual. The ingenious thing about Art All Day is that it allows visitors to discover for themselves that this overlooked neighborhood, humming and buzzing with art, ideas and life, is Trenton.