An artist housing development will provide Newark’s Clinton Hill neighborhood with a new cultural art, education, residential and social center following the March 29 ribbon cutting of the Gant-Gilbert Arts Collective at 505 Clinton St.
“Newark has a long and rich history as a center for the arts,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “This new facility provides a new generation of artists with housing, facilities in which to work, and a space for the city’s artists to connect, express themselves, and showcase their talents.”
“It is truly befitting that this development honors two outstanding Newark natives and artists, Rodney Gilbert and Jerry Gant. They left indelible marks across the city, state, and world during their lives through their art and the people they touched. Further, the project will bring increased economic strength to the Clinton Hill community, provide an opportunity for residents to experience culture and art, and write a new page in our artistic history,” Baraka said.
Roy Southerland, interim president and CEO of Invest Newark, Newark’s economic development corporation, noted at the event that the Gant-Gilbert Arts Collective is one of many projects helping to revitalize the Clinton Hill District by bringing affordable housing and providing accessible community space. “The Gant-Gilbert Arts Collective will provide space and opportunity for our local artists to thrive within a community of their own,” he said.
The mixed-use residence will provide 27 affordable homes, a performance space, 10 on-site work studios, and community and public space that will serve as a creative hub for artists and their families.
The Collective will also stage performances in music, dance, and theater; recitals, private and corporate special events; and events covering nutrition, health, and fitness, and social awareness. It will also focus on building strategic alliances and partnerships within the greater Newark community.
“At BlkBoxNwk, we will provide an affordable, accessible and high volume venue for artists to express themselves while showcasing, testing and refining their respective crafts,” said John Murray, operator of the performance space at the Gant-Gilbert Arts Collective. “It is our aim to provide an interactive system of support for our artist community that adapts with the outside factors that affect constructive output from the working artist.”
“At our café, we are combining healthy food, entertainment and art to the heart of Newark,” said Rashena Burroughs, owner of the cafe operator Rhythm N’ Food.
The project is named after local artists Rodney Gilbert and Jerry Gant. Gilbert, who passed away in 2017, was the founder and CEO of Yendor Productions, a Newark-based firm that consults, develops and produces arts education programming and events for under-served artists and communities. Gant, who passed in 2018, was a visual artist, poet, performance artist and educator, and is known for creating most of Newark’s public sculptures.
“The only thing that makes this moment and building even more beautiful is that it honors two of the most prolific artists not just of this community but of this generation. I was friends with both Rodney and Jerry, and didn’t get the time I wanted with either, so to have the opportunity to have my art on the walls alongside their art and also walk by it every day means the world to me,” said Olive, a multidisciplinary artist and future resident of the Gant-Gilbert Arts Collective.