This weekend’s heavy schedule of Trenton cultural offerings — with many of the prominent city arts agencies participating — may seem like something special, but it is not. Through a number of coincidences, annual and regular events are occurring at the same time and proving to have critical mass.
While the city has undeniable problems, it also has rewards for adventurous area culture seekers searching for something lively, something historic, and something new.
For lively, there’s Art All Night, the massive annual 24-hour arts event that starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, and continues to 3 p.m., Sunday, June 16.
The seventh annual happening — coordinated by the non-profit Artworks at the old Roebling Wire Work Factory site at 695 South Clinton Avenue — Art All Night emphasizes art (and lots of it) as a unifier, and the entire region is invited to participate as both visitor and exhibitor. Organizers note that 20,000 people attended last year.
Since coordinators are hoping to have 1,000 works of art submitted this year, visitors will have plenty to see in the 50,000-square-foot industrial site-turned-gallery. Ongoing music by groups and individuals from all over the region, spoken word events, workshops, art demonstrations, video and film presentations, interactive projects, and food vendors will also be found around the site and around the clock.
Though the event is gearing up, area artists, or those who just wanted to try their hand at creating something, still have a last chance to submit art work of all types and all levels — really. All one needs to do is drop off the work at the event site on Friday, June 14, between 5 and 9 p.m., or Saturday, June 15, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., and submit an easy release form that can be filled out there or from the Artworks website.
Art All Night, Artworks at the Roebling Wire Work Factory, 695 South Clinton Avenue, Trenton. Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16, 3 p.m. to 3 p.m. Free (but a donation is requested). Parking is available on at the adjacent Roebling Market, in designated and manned event parking lots, and on the streets. Traffic may be a problem. www.artworkstrenton.org/artallnight.
History, more importantly design history, is focus of the annual Cadwalader Heights House Tour, set for Saturday, June 15, noon to 5 p.m.
The Cadwalader Heights section of Trenton, which starts on Parkside Avenue and includes sections of areas around and between Bellevue and Stuyvesant avenues, holds the distinction of being shaped by one of the nation’s leading 19th century designers: Frederick Law Olmsted. A 31-acre area with 73 houses situated on hills with shady and curving roads, it is the only such site in New Jersey and one of the dozens that involved Olmsted himself, rather than his company.
Developed just over a century ago for Trenton leaders of industry, the district reflects the emerging wealth of late-19th century New Jersey and a national interest in a mixture of architectures styles, including Tudor, Georgian, Colonial Revival, and Craftsman.
Olmsted, who lived from 1822 to 1903, is the celebrated co-designer of New York City’s Central Park and designer for the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Mount Royal Park in Montreal, and other historic parks and grounds, including Trenton’s Cadwalader Park, designed in 1891. His other planned communities can be found in Riverside, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), Druid Hills in Atlanta, Georgia, and Belle Island, Michigan (part of the City of Detroit).
In addition to reminding visitors about Olmsted, the event evokes other historical and regionally important names. The district’s namesake, Dr. Thomas Cadwalader was a Philadelphia physician who moved to Trenton and became city’s first mayor in 1746. His son, Lambert, who was an officer in the Continental Army and a delegate with the Continental Congress, purchased the 240-acre section of land that became the Olmsted-designed park and the heights.
The catalyst for establishment of the park and the area was Edmund Hill. An imaginative and intellectually gifted man who had hoped to attend a university, Hill’s fate was to take over his father’s Trenton restaurant and bakery business. Although frustrated and feeling inadequate for lack of scholastic training, he continued to dream and threw himself into in a variety of civic activities and developed the city park systems, served on city council, and established the city’s connection with Olmsted.
While most of the above is told in the book “Cadwalader Heights: The History of an Olmsted Neighborhood” by Trenton resident and historian Glenn R. Modica, visitors will get an opportunity to tour the area and the homes.
Eleven houses are opening their doors, including Modica’s at 9 Belmont Circle. That three-story Shingle style home with a gambrel (or barn-style) roof was the first heights’ house to be built, in 1907, for and designed by Dr. Frank Forrest Frederick, who was also a well-known artist and director of the School of Industrial Arts. Owners Modica and Natalie Featherston, an artist herself, have maintained an artist’s presence by restoring the upstairs studio (complete with fireplace).
Landscape architect Randy Baum’s home at 4 Ivy Court is also on the tour. The Craftsman style home (buildings that emphasizing harmony and simplicity over Victorian ornamentation) has a saltbox roof (two distinct pitches) with shed dormer, overhanging eaves, brackets below the raking cornice, and slate roof. While an attraction in itself, the house also features Baum’s sculpted garden that overlooks the canal.
Marking its first time as part of the tour is 928 Bellevue. The 1908 American Foursquare house (a type of building that incorporates ideas from early Frank Lloyd Wright and the Craftsman style) is by Trenton architect William P. Endebrock — who designed several other homes in Cadwalader Heights and dozens in the immediate area. The building features three-sided porch with Tuscan columns, hipped roof, slate shingles with hipped roof dormers, wide overhanging eaves, and Pompeian brick first story exterior with wood shingles above. The house is owned by Trenton historian and writer Sally Lane and former New York Daily News editor and writer Sam Graff, the grandson of architect Endebrock.
Other attractions on the tour include dessert tastings, sessions on urban beekeeping and using native plants, and meeting plein air artists.
Cadwalader Heights Tour, Trenton. Saturday, June 15, noon to 5 p.m. (rain or shine). Registration at Cadwalader-Asbury United Methodist Church, 900 Stuyvesant Avenue, Trenton. $25 day-of, $20 advance sales. firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-462-2932, or www.cadwaladerheights.com.
History and some new art are available at Ellarslie, the Trenton City Museum in Cadwalader Park. The park is across Parkside Avenue, affording an easy addition to those on the Cadwalader Heights tour.
Easy to spot in the Olmsted park, Ellarslie is the 1848 mansion designed by noted Scottish-American architect John Notman (who also contributed to renovations of both the New Jersey State House in Trenton and Nassau Hall in Princeton).
On Saturday, June 15, the museum will open three new exhibitions: “Delaware Valley Fine Crafts Invitational,” “Memories of Warsaw: Paintings and Drawings by Kyle Hamilton,” and “Trenton Entourage Motors ‘Round the World in 1909.” Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The crafts show includes 18 regional fine craft professionals who will exhibit more than 70 varied styled works representing in ceramic, fiber, jewelry, paper and wood.
Hamilton’s one-woman show features expressionist, post-apocalyptic urban landscapes — sometimes inhabited by the figure of a young girl as witness. “Nothing is created that is useless,” says the Hamilton-based artist, who has exhibited at the Arts Council of Princeton, Gallery 125, and Artsbridge. “I now believe we should embrace the wickedness, for beauty will unfold, and we will grow stronger. For me, this show and the pieces in it reveal that out of calm reflection come wisdom, kindness, and beauty.”
“Round the World in 1909” chronicles the true tale of Trenton business woman Harriet White Fisher’s drive around the world by automobile, accompanied by her chauffeur/personal secretary, maid, butler, and her Boston Bull Terrier (Honk-Honk).
A free opening reception for the three shows is set for next Saturday, June 22, 7 to 9 p.m.
On Sunday, June 16, at 2 p.m., the museum will present “Infantry Bugle Calls of the American Civil War,” featuring professional trumpet player, reenactor and author George Rabbai. During the program, Rabbai, who is on the music faculty at Rowan University and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, will demonstrate and explain civil war bugle calls and their impact. $10 at the door.
Visit www.ellarslie.org or call 609-989-1191.
The completely new is happening, Friday through Sunday, June 14 through 16, on Hanover Street at Gallery 219 and the Gandhi Garden
The inventive new Sage Coalition and the city’s long standing Trenton Artists Workshop Association open the joint exhibition “What’s Happenin’” with a party (no exaggeration) on Friday, June 14, 6 to p.m. at the gallery at 219 Hanover.
Sage’s presence on Hanover Street is part of the group’s plan to create art through the city, exemplified by the “Windows of Soul” project that brought some life through art to the urban decay around the gallery (U.S. 1, September 19, 2012).
The current show, which continues to Friday, July 5, is designed to celebrate and bring together dedicated artists making their presence known in the area. It is curated by prominent Trenton-based and nationally known painter Mel Leipzig and features area artists Guadalupe Reyes, Katie Hector, Sam Acuff, Ian Murphy, Justin Jedrzejczyk, Vanity Sabelink, Chelsea Perron, Jasmine Chow, Carl Allen Washington, and Brandon Jones.
Featured at the free June 14 event will be spoken word artist Mia X and DJ Itsjustahmad.
What’s Happenin’, Gallery 219, 219 Hanover Street, Trenton. Opening Friday, June 14, 6 to 10 p.m. Free. sagecoalitionnj.com.
At SAGE’s Gandhi Garden, next door to the gallery at 223 East Hanover, Passage Theater, Trenton’s only non-profit professional theater, presents “This Trenton Life,” the inaugural presentation of its new Stoop Theater project.
The Gandhi Garden is an artist reclaimed and landscaped area that creatively incorporates discarded found objects, such as tires, bicycle rims, and re-claimed pallets. The name comes from a giant mural of Gandhi painted by SAGE mural and graffiti artist Will Kasso.
“This Trenton Life” was created by David Lee White, Passage Theater’s associate artistic director, and writers from the Stoop Theater ensemble. The presentation employs an approach similar to National Public Radio’s This American Life program to explore urban related situations and choices. The actors are Trenton high school students active in drama and writing.
This Trenton Life, Gandhi Garden, 223 East Hanover Street, Trenton. Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16, 3 p.m. Free; donations accepted. www.passagetheatre.org or 609-392-0766.
With other activities available, such as visits to the Petty’s Run archaeological site and the State Museum, the capital city has a lot of art capital that’s ready for the taking.