November 22, 2019, East Orange, NJ: The City of East Orange is proud to announce that it will be hosting a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Tuesday, November 26 at 1pm for a large scale public mural inspired by nationally-recognized artist Tom Nussbaum and the late Piet Mondrian, one of the greatest abstract artists of the 20th century.
The event officially launches the city’s Public Art Initiative, which will be spearheaded by the city’s Department of Policy, Planning, and Development. The mural is located on North Oraton Parkway directly behind 40 North Munn Avenue. All are welcome to attend.
The mural is a representation of Nussbaum’s 2015 sculpture titled “East Orange Boogie Woogie” and was re-created by a local team of expert mural painters led by Steve Green of Blackbird Arts & Design, along with fellow artists Malcolm Rolling and Matthew Purefoy.
“This project represents one of many more to come. Our city is essentially a blank canvas for the incredible talent that lives here,” said Mayor Ted R. Green. “I am excited to support an arts initiative that will spark conversation, engage our citizens and make our public spaces come alive with the energy that East Orange is known for.”
Nussbaum, who works from a studio located in Historic Manufacturer’s Village in East Orange, said his original sculpture – a brilliantly colorful abstract of interconnected geometric shapes and lines – was inspired by “Broadway Boogie Woogie,” created by the late Mondrian who reveled in the energy, music and movement of New York City.
“I’m so proud to be involved in this public art project here in East Orange. Over two years ago, Linda Street visited my Franklin Street studio with the concept of creating an outdoor mural inspired by my artwork. Having already completed over 40 sculptural installations in public spaces, I was thrilled by her concept of translating my work into a gigantic mural,” said Nussbaum. “With the talented muralists [Green, Rolling, and Purefoy], we’ve created an artwork which reflects our pride in the city, and is a testament to how public art can be accomplished with a team of people working together.”
A lifelong curator of the arts and well-known arts influencer, Street, CEO of Pink Dragon Artist Syndicate LLC, said this project has been a labor of love and she is overjoyed to see it finally come to life. According to Street, this project introduces a non-traditional aesthetic of what most come to expect from the fine arts, especially in urban areas.
“The work felt like such a reflection of East Orange. It was vibrant. It had this beautiful positive energy that just feels like East Orange,” shared Street, reflecting upon her first look at the sculpture several years ago. “I knew that we had to recreate this somehow for everyone to see. The rest is art history!”
Many within the East Orange Arts community are ecstatic to acknowledge the Mayor’s and the City Council’s renewed commitment to supporting the arts and bringing local art alive.
“I am proud to lead the charge to foster, and bring to the forefront, the arts across and around East Orange. This is a tangible project that enriches our city and recognizes our very own arts community which has for far too long been underserved and under-recognized,” said Second Ward Councilman Christopher Awe, who has been a passionate advocate for public art. “It is a direct reflection of the progress that we are making and I look forward to all experiencing this amazing art in our amazing city.”
Just recently, the city unveiled a student mural art project at Elmwood Park, a collaboration of the Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training and the East Orange School District’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts. Gwendolyn Jackson, a retired high school arts educator and one of the founding members of the Arts Council of East Orange, said engaging and embracing students early in this arts initiative will reap lasting benefits for years to come.
“Art is such a positive way to unleash creativity while giving the young people involved a sense of belonging and a direct connectivity to their environment. The influences that surround us are all interrelated,” said Jackson. “I’ve waited over 40 years to see public art come to fruition in East Orange and I am honored to work with the Green Administration, the East Orange School District and our local artists to transform our city into a palette that reflects the unique character and cultural diversity of our community.”