Engage with Art in New Ways this November

The Zimmerli stays open late on November 3 for Art After Hours: First Tuesdays. The event kicks off at 5:30pm with the Rutgers Afro-Caribbean Ensemble, performing throughout the evening. Directed by Professor Bill O'Connell, this group of top student musicians from Mason Gross School of the Arts provides a dynamic, vibrant, and fun party element to any event. Their arrangements feature Latin, Salsa, and Afro-Cuban styled selections. A half-hour, curator-led tour of Vagrich Bakhchanyan: Accidental Absurdity begins at 6:00. The exhibition is the first U.S. retrospective on the groundbreaking work of this Soviet conceptual artist whose incisive critiques of Soviet propaganda led to unlikely success and an embrace in Soviet popular culture that remains relevant to this day. At 7:00, Slide Jam welcomes artists Megan Suttles and Jim Toia to discuss their new work. Suttles is a Brooklyn-based-artist and the Founder, Owner, and Curator of Hot Wood Arts. Her artwork is mostly based on anxiety and control. She has been exploring the eternal struggle between restraint and disorder: the way we tend to conceal our inner confusion with the outward appearance of refinement and perfection. Toia makes his home in the hills of northwestern New Jersey, for both its refuge from the metropolitan area and proximity to the center of the contemporary art world. In his work, he seeks to convey the absolute brilliance of circumstance and contingency. Toia feels his work is successful if “the viewer becomes aware of the fragility of the moment, realizes the miracle of our predicament, and bends to the fascination of pure experience.” Art After Hours takes place from 5:00 to 9:00 pm, offering free admission and complimentary refreshments. To learn more, visit bit.ly/ArtAfterHourZTues.


The Zimmerli Art Museum invites the public to “Poetry, Art, and Music: A Tribute to Jayne Cortez,” which honors the late poet and her influence on the arts, on Wednesday, November 4, from 4 to 6 p.m. Poets Evie Shockley, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, and Thomas Sayers Ellis, as well as saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, perform original prepared works, as well as improvisations, that evoke the spirit of Cortez’s aesthetics. Scholar and author Carter Mathes also provides remarks about Cortez’s collaborations with sculptor Melvin Edwards. Co-sponsored by the Department of English at Rutgers, the program is held in conjunction with the exhibition Melvin Edwards: Five Decades, on view at the Zimmerli through January 10. The program is free and open to the public. A reception and opportunity to visit the exhibition follow the readings.


The work of poet and performance artist Jayne Cortez (1934-2012) has been described as lyrically innovative and visceral. Her themes were influenced by her work as an activist in the Civil Rights movement, as well as an appreciation of American blues and jazz. The founder of the Watts Repertory Theater (an ensemble she used to unearth and highlight racial inequalities) and Bola Press, Cortez also performed, lectured, and taught at many universities (including Rutgers), museums, and festivals. Widely anthologized, her work has been translated into 28 languages.


Cortez collaborated throughout her career with sculptor Melvin Edwards; their friendship intensified his sensitivity to language and its relation to thought, politics, identity, and visual art. Five Decades includes a re-creation of his barbed wire work “Look through minds mirror distance and measure time,” named from a poem in Cortez’s 1969 collection Pissstained Stairs and the Monkey Man’s Wares, for which Edwards provided illustrations (he originally created the sculpture for his 1970 exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art). Cortez’s passionate voice animates the poem “Love,” on view nearby. If the building spiral of her syntax speaks to the ensnaring, self-regarding, dizzyingly seductive embrace of love, he likewise gathers the errant ends of his barbed-wire strands to create a harsh yet sheltering tunnel of space. Cortez and Edwards had known each other in Los Angeles; they became reacquainted after separately resettling in New York and married in 1975.


The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers invites the public to a reception and series of programs for Vagrich Bakhchanyan: Accidental Absurdity, the first U.S. retrospective on the groundbreaking work of the Soviet conceptual artist, on Thursday, November 12. The event includes a curator-led tour of the exhibition, a roundtable discussion with individuals who were close to the artist, and a screening of the film Vagrich and the Black Square. The programs, which take place from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., are free and open to the public. Please visit www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu for the complete schedule.


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