Newark Public Library Offers Glimpse of Newark and New Jersey Through Display of Special Prints, Posters and Treasured Ephemera
It is ephemera; paper notions of greeting cards, advertising posters, sheet music covers and trading cards. Items, like certain flowers, designed to bloom and then fade, to last no more than a day. Yet many of these objects, along with lithographs, posters and prints by New Jersey artists, have been collected and preserved through the years by The Newark Public Library and are now on view through December 30.
The exhibit, housed in the third floor gallery of the Main Library, 5 Washington Street, offers a taste of Newark and New Jersey, a glimpse of its history through the eyes of its artists, printmakers and its paper ephemera.
"This exhibit reflects the truly unique nature of our Garden State, its history and also its historical significance, in relation to the United States," said Library Director Wilma J. Grey. "It presents Newark and New Jersey as quintessential America, mirroring its heart and soul."
Featured in the gallery are prints and lithographs by Newark and New Jersey artists from the 19th Century through the 20th, including Helen Frank, Adolf Konrad, Florian Jenkins, Robert Conover, Thomas Moran. Japanese style woodblock prints of flowers and vegetables by Luigi Rist hang alongside nostalgic shore scenes by Winslow Homer.
The exhibit presents Newark as the epitome of American ingenuity and know-how. Didn’t Thomas A. Edison have a factory and a laboratory located just steps from The Newark Public Library? A portrait of the famed inventor with his signature and the date (1902) is included in the gallery display.
Wasn’t Newark a bustling industrial center, with shipping and factory buildings lining the Passaic River? Of course! An 1874 color lithograph of the city, a gift from Thomas Watson, the president of IBM, depicts the industrial hub along the river front.
That print hangs in the third floor gallery alongside government-sponsored posters celebrating the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. These posters acknowledge the state’s role in the war that birthed the nation and allude to New Jersey as "The Crossroads of the American Revolution."
And George Washington really slept in Newark, as he moved his troops across New Jersey. The Newark march took place in November of 1776; supplies and troops were exhausted and soldiers left their bloody footprints on the on icy streets as they walked barefoot or with feet wrapped in rags on their way to Pennsylvania to escape the British forces.
Also featured in the exhibit are prints, posters and sheet music that depict the bloody march through Newark. There are also autographed documents from Revolutionary War figures such as Thomas Paine, Elias Boudinot, Alexander Hamilton and John Hancock.
"All these paper items were collected as witness to the local history of Newark and New Jersey," said William J. Dane, co-curator of the exhibit with Chad E. Leinaweaver. "These items offer the truest glimpse of what life in Newark and New Jersey was like centuries ago."
The ephemera collection bows to the centennial anniversary of the opening of Newark’s City Hall on Broad Street in 1906. The Beaux-Arts structure, designed by architects John H. Ely and his son, Wilson C., is depicted on a greeting card from that event. The card is displayed alongside a 2006 pen-and-ink drawing of the building as it appears today by Richard LaRovere.
The exhibit is open during library hours and is free to the public. For more information, please call 973-733-7745 or visit the Library’s website at www.npl.org.
©2006 The Newark Public Library