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Newark Smelting and Refining Works, Ed. Balbach and Sons, c. 1870.
Newark: 1666-1999
A Panorama of Prints

Artists' Views of Newark in a Gala Gathering of Graphic Art from the Special Collections of the Newark Public Library

Third Floor Gallery
April 15 - June 30, 1999

Curated by William J. Dane

In mid-May of 1666, a group of hardy settlers sailed into what is today called Newark Bay, then up the Passaic River, and landed in Newark and started a new life in a new community. In May of 1999, Newark reaches the 333rd anniversary of the initial settlement and The Newark Public Library rejoices in this unique capstone date by presenting two exhibitions of original prints, drawings, photographs, and posters centering on the city's dramatic history, personalities, organizations and buildings, domestic, commercial and industrial. Over one hundred and fifty images are on display in the gallery on the Library's Third Floor in a gala grouping entitled: "Newark: 1666-1999, Artists' Views of Newark in a Gathering of Graphic Art from The Special Collections of The Newark Public Library."

Some of the major themes in this show are images of the city in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries as well as cityscapes which are familiar today including the Meadowlands, the old and new courthouses and city hall, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Branch Brook Park, industry along the Passaic River, and historic depictions of the Prudential Insurance Company of America. Picturesque trade cards from Newark firms at the turn of the century as well as seasonal cards of greetings from holidays from various mayors of Newark are on view.

Trade card from F. Barthman advertising Burt shoes.
Trade card from Hodge clothier on Broad St.

Autographs from Thomas Paine and Elias Boudinot from the Revolutionary War period are shown as well as celebrated Newarkers from modern times such as Sarah Vaughan and Philip Roth.

"To The Public Library All the Best, Sarah Vaughan."

Original works by many artists make up much of the unique material selected for this show including work by 19th century artists Nathaniel Currier (of the noted firm of Currier and Ives) and Cyrus Durand Chapman as well as a turn of the century artist from Newark, Peter B. McCord, whose watercolors of Newark in the Japanese style are absolutely intriguing.

Beginning of the Old Plank Road, watercolor by Peter B. McCord, c. 1906.
Newark Harbor, lithograph by Louis Lozowick, 1930.

Twentieth century artists found Newark to be a never ending source for subject matter for their graphic art and these include Louis Lozowick who is nationally celebrated for his lithographic art, Robert Conover who taught for many years at The Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art, Joseph Konopka of Glen Ridge, George A. Bradshaw who lived in Trenton, and Florian Jenkins who at one time was the exhibition artist at The Library. Others of note include John R. Quinn, artist and author who is a specialist in the area long known as The Meadowlands, Tim Daly's serigraphs and Rudolph Ruzicka who created beautiful engravings in color of Newark for a book about the city published by the Carteret Book Club.

Christmas Greeting from Mayor Thomas Lynch Raymond, designed by Rudolph Ruzicka, c. 1915.
Newark Metropolitan Airport in the Early Years, etching by George A. Bradshaw.


All of the materials in the show are from the Library's Special collections gathered carefully over the past century and curated by William J. Dane, Keeper of Prints, Posters and Unique Works on Paper. Very special is a large, clearly signed portrait of Thomas A. Edison which he dated Dec. 1, 1902. The world famous inventor came to Newark in the winter months of 1871 when he was only 24 years old. He leased a part of a building on Ward Street in the downtown area to manufacture his improved stock ticker. Other photographs show Newark high school students on the stage of the Mosque Theater (now Symphony Hall) and at West Side High School in the early 1940s. These wide angle group images show young people who were accomplished in music and these photos are amazing for their clarity and crispness of detail. Two notable and large photographs in color show cherry trees in Branch Brook Park in full blossom at night. They are the work of Larry Gianettino.

Lackawanna Bridge, lithograph by Victoria Ebbels Hutson, 1934.


The overall purpose of this exhibition is summed up by curator Dane who wrote about the show as follows: "Hail To Newark! Congratulations on the 333rd Anniversary of your first settlement in mid-May of 1666! You are a valiant survivor from the 17th century and are today a vibrant, venerable and historic municipality on the cusp of a new century and a new millennium in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States of America. Named with affection for the town of Newark-On-Trent in England, you have witnessed wars, severe economic crises, and civil strife along with decades of prosperity, good times and glorious civic celebrations while steadfastly remaining the home town for thousands upon thousands of people and multiple business firms and institutions, large and small. This graphic parade of pictures is assembled with rampant pride and warm nostalgia for this grand old place on the Passaic River. We look forward to the future with optimism and the highest of hopes."

North Newark with a Steam Engine Pulling Freight Cards, watercolor sketch by Charles E. Luffman, c. 1945.

Although the art works are all on one major theme, namely Newark, they are different in many ways as they are large and small in format, vary from full color to black and white, and show a wide variety of graphic art techniques including woodblocks, engravings, etchings, lithographs, serigraphs, drawings, water colors and photographs, making an exciting and special group of visual interpretations.

The exhibit is open during regular Newark Public Library hours which are Monday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Please call (973) 733-7745 for further details.

 

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