Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared by Jesse Fischer for the April 27, 2005

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Painting the Streets with Color

New Brunswick is home to 49,000 people and 250 streets. Next weekend,

those residents and roadways will connect, as the city hosts the

Streets 2k5 Festival on Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1. The

festival celebrates community involvement and public arts.

Primarily organized by the Albus Cavus Art Gallery in New Brunswick,

this free, non-profit event brings together artists from New York,

Philadelphia, California, Puerto Rico, England, France, and the Czech

Republic with New Brunswick artists, Rutgers students, and children

from the public school system.

Art will be displayed in multiple indoor and outdoor galleries,

including the train station, Harvest Moon Brewery, Tumulty’s Pub,

Court Tavern, and Yoga Vaya. A wide range of performances is planned,

including music, dance, and light shows in Kilmer Square Park; bands

and puppet theater in Feaster Park; live painting demonstrations by

artists in Feaster Park, Kilmer Square Park, the New Brunswick Public

Free Library, and other locations; and a film festival and family day

at the Zimmerli Museum.

Streets 2k5 (the 2k5 refers to 2005) is a community event designed to

bridge the downtown business area of New Brunswick with its

residential neighborhoods. Peter Krsko, co-founder of Albus Cavus,

says: "The festival will have a strong emphasis on living in New

Brunswick and how people can appreciate their own neighborhoods, how

they can keep them clean and beautiful, and how to contribute to the

process of making the streets more colorful."

Street art is not new to New Brunswick – in the late 1950s and early

’60s, the city was home to the Fluxus movement of avant-garde art,

which placed emphasis on the importance of the location and placement

of artwork – outside of the museum setting – as well as the

interaction of the viewer with the art. Predating the Pop Art movement

that exploded in New York in the 1960s, New Brunswick’s avant-garde

artists often painted cartoon-like figures and text directly into

their works. As Krsko describes it, the Fluxus artists wanted to

remove "the border between the art piece and the audience, so the

audience would be part of the art piece." The movement produced very

large installations and "happenings," which were early performance-art

pieces.

The Albus Cavus Gallery pays tribute to the rich history of public art

in New Brunswick by sponsoring, with the Zimmerli Art Museum, a series

of lectures, movie screenings, and exhibits displaying avant-garde art

from the 1960s. The festival will also feature works from 150

contemporary artists working in various street-related formats,

including aerosol art, stencils, stickers, illustrations, magazine

layouts, comics, and tattoo art.

Streets 2k5 goes beyond the arches of the university and high-brow art

galleries – artwork will be displayed in parks, restaurants, bars,

even auto repair shops. World-renowned artists will share space with

independent and amateur artists. Live painting performances will

stress collaboration with children and local residents.

The story behind the Albus Cavus Gallery mirrors the goals of Streets

2k5. The gallery was founded in 2002 by Nicole Wines, a Rutgers

University undergraduate, and Krsko, a Ph.D. student at the Stevens

Institute of Technology, both New Brunswick residents. "The idea of

Albus Cavus when we started the gallery was to bring art to the

public, to the audience, to the streets and public places," Krsko, who

is originally from Slovakia, says. Beginning with a basement gallery

space, Albus Cavus quickly became too successful for its own good: in

fall, 2003, the organization received a notice from the city

government warning them not to have exhibitions without a museum

permit.

But instead of going further underground, Albus Cavus emerged from its

cave and began collaborating with the city on other gallery spaces. As

a result, Wines and Krsko now organize monthly exhibitions in the New

Brunswick train station. Other unusual venues for artwork that have

been annexed by Albus Cavus include a yoga studio, a brew pub, and an

outside wall of the Sixth Ward Service Center.

Lamenting the lack of traditional gallery space in New Brunswick,

Wines remains optimistic about public display of art in the city.

"What we want to do is provide legal spaces for the artists who are

participating in the festival but also make it more accepted so it’s

easier to find public spaces that are legal." Wines and Krsko have

worked closely with city officials and private property owners to

ensure that Streets 2k5 remains positive and crime-free.

When asked about the role of art in the community, Krkso responds,

"Art [is] very diverse, so you can’t just serve one certain kind of

art to people in the city and expect that everybody is going to

consume that, that everybody is going to like that." He points out

that the few arts institutions in New Brunswick "aren’t really

covering the whole demographics of the town. You should have events

that build on the history and the heritage of people in the town."

Krsko cites the annual Hungarian and Hispanic festivals as prime

examples of this type of cultural celebration.

Wines adds: "You have to have art that reaches out to different people

in different communities." Since Albus Cavus shows tend to span a

great variety of styles and themes, "every show we have, we get a

completely different crowd."

Wines says that in addition to more community involvement in the arts,

"arts education is also very important." Albus Cavus is now working

with the New Brunswick Community Arts Council and the public school

system to increase resources available to arts educators in the city.

Music and art programs are underimplemented, according to Wines, often

requiring teachers to donate time after school.

Ultimately, Krsko and Wines are community organizers who believe that

art is a means to bridge generational and cultural gaps, while

improving the safety and esthetic appeal of public spaces. With the

Streets 2k5 festival, their goal is to "bring the art to the community

and at the same time have them participate." New Brunswick’s streets

will never have looked better.

– Jesse Fischer

Editor’s Note: Jesse Fischer is a contributing writer to

U.S. 1. His band, Soul Cycle, was the subject of a U.S. 1 feature on

February 23.

Streets 2k5, Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1, in New

Brunswick, at locations including the train station, Feaster Park,

Suydam Street Community Gardens, Sixth Ward Service Center, Yoga Vayu,

Harvest Moon, Nova Terra, and Zimmerli Art Museum. For a complete

schedule of events, locations, directions, and parking information

visit streets2k5.albuscav.us.

eum. For a complete

schedule of events, locations, directions, and parking information

visit streets2k5.albuscav.us.


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