When Michael Gumpert joined the board of Artworks two years ago, he brought with him from Pittsburgh a remarkably novel event idea — a community-based 24-hour marathon celebration of the arts. The first Art All Night in Pittsburgh in 1998, held in a recently-purchased but still empty commercial property, drew 101 artworks and 200 attendees; in 2006, it attracted over 10,000 visitors and the work of 883 artists.
Now executive director of Artworks, Gumpert will enjoy his third annual Art All Night in Trenton from 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 20, through 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 21. In its first year in 2007, Art All Night drew 1,700 guests and 370 artists all ages, skill levels, and mediums. Last year the numbers rose to 5,000 visitors and over 500 artists. This year an estimated 8,000 guests are expected. Unlike most booth-oriented, daytime art fairs, Art All Night, Gumpert told U.S. 1 before the first Art All Night, is “edgy, something different, something cool” (U.S. 1, June 20, 2007).
The first year Art All Night took place in the Artworks facility (historically home to a Sear Roebucks warehouse) in Trenton. Last year it moved to the Chambersburg section of Trenton in a sprawling 50,000 square foot former Roebling machine shop, which once fabricated the world renowned Roebling wire rope used in suspension bridges including New York’s Brookly, Williamsburg, and Manhattan bridges, and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge — now the future home of the Museum of Contemporary Science. According to Gumpert, more than 300 volunteers have been recruited to help with this year’s event.
The event, according to Gumpert, embraces five goals. First, the event is participatory — giving artists (including children, teens, and novices) who normally might not have a chance to show their work in a gallery setting the opportunity to do so. “This is empowering,” says Gumpert, “and encourages people to continue creating.” The event also seeks to build community, bringing people together who may be different in many others ways but all share a love of art. According to demographic data posted in Artworks’ website, visitors to last year’s Art All Night were spread rather evenly agewise from the 16 to 25-year-old category, and each decade up through the 56 to 65 category. Forty percent of attendees were from Mercer County (not Trenton), 20.6 percent from Trenton, and the rest from Bucks County, metro Philadelphia, and metro New York, as well as towns and counties including Montgomery, Bordentown, Somerset, Essex County, and Monmouth/ Roosevelt. Gumpert says: “The building community goal reflects the idea that art is a common denominator amongst a very diverse grup of people, people who would probably not interact with each other but this event brings them together.” One statistic Gumpert adds to the posted information is that the ethnic breakdown was 60 percent white, and 40 percent non-white, a stamp of diversity success in and of itself. Gumpert also notes that not everyone was young, and not everyone was from Trenton. “There were also rich Princetonians.”
Other goals include growing ideas — bringing creative people together to forge new relationships and generate new ideas to improve Trenton; showcasing Trenton’s redevelopment potential; and promoting Artworks as an organization — offering classes, exhbiitions, original programming and trainings, space rentals, volunteer opportunities, and a future beautification initiative.
‘The concern this year is that when we started out we designed the event to be a ‘fun-raiser,’ and this year we wanted to make it into a fundraiser without diluting the five very important goals,” says Gumpert. “We more aggressively pursued sponsorship opportunities, and developed a whole host of ways that people can spend their money at the event — but still keep it free to attend and to submit art.” Visitors can buy the very popular Art All Night tee shirts and coffee mugs; a portion of the food proceeds will go to Artworks, and if you end up purchasing artwork you can designate a portion to go to Artworks.”
Live music from a spectrum of genres — jazz, rock, blues, club, and family — will be held on indoor and outdoor stages. When night falls, visitors can witness a glassblowing studio on wheels outdoors and Modern Metal Works will transform reclaimed elevator cables into “fire bowls” for the age-old pastime of “sitting around the campfire.” Artists from Dentz Design will create wearable art. Art Fusion is a jam sessions for artists, where painters — and even tattoo artists — will collaborate on art that evolves right in front of spectators’ eyes. Four Winds yoga holds two yoga classes on Sunday morning. The Children’s Art Zone will be a space for kids to design, build, and create together on Sunday.
Gumpert says that in the food department they deliberately decided against what he calls “carnival food.” Instead, visitors can expect to see Nomad Pizza (brick oven pizza made on the back of an REO Speedwagon truck) and Alysia’s Brownies (we’re crossing our fingers she’ll have her triple chocolate mocha ones). Carnivores can choose from Howard’s Place, offering traditional American BBQ, and Stewart’s Drive-in, and herbivores can visit Catherine’s Vegan. Other food and wine vendors include Laurita Winery (which holds a wine tasting on Saturday from 3 to 9 p.m., Zizi’s, and Trenton Kebab House, including plenty of ethnic and world offerings.
But the core attraction is, of course, the art. What other gallery can boast 50,000 square feet of exhibition space? Art All Night encourages submissions from every type of artist — from “four-year-old refrigerator artists, spirited novices, and seasoned professionals.” Artists may bring one — and only one — piece of art to the registration table on Friday, June 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. or on Saturday, June 20, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Organizers recommend that artists complete the art registration form online (www.artworkstrenton.org) in advance. A photo ID is required at registration and pick up. More information is available on the website.
During Art All Night visitors can express interest in purchasing artwork by filling out a purchase offer form. Artists will then contact interested parties. (No sales will take place or be brokered onsite.)
“I think it’s almost magical to see this many people be ecstatic about this event,” says Gumpert. “They see it as a part of Trenton’s rebirth. There’s so much going on in Trenton, so much that’s positive. Bringing people to Trenton for Art All Night is one way for them to see what’s going on.
Art All Night, Artworks, Museum of Contemporary Science, Roebling Machine Shop, 675 Clinton Avenue, Trenton. Saturday, June 20, 3 p.m. 24-hours of art, entertainment, and refreshments. Through June 21, 3 p.m. 609-394-9436 or www.artworkstrenton.org.