‘We Are the Ghosts of Our Future’ encapsulates the analog portion of The Newark Artists Photo Documentary Project. Utilizing vintage Jem Jr. box cameras manufactured in Newark in the 1940s, Colleen Gutwein O’Neal forgoes the slow and methodical techniques of portraiture in favor of a more urgent and instinctive approach. A process that archives artists’ personalities in fuzzy, mysterious images emerging against a backdrop of vanishing architecture, forgotten places and artists’ workspaces. Putting forth a diverse cross-section of participants, the ghostly prints provide a subtle yet provocative commentary on the place of the artist in today’s society and the importance of honoring and documenting their contributions.
“ The camera was manufactured in Newark on Jelliff Ave in the 1940’s by the J.E. Mergott Company, and helps me to stray from the perfection of a digital image, and document these artists through my own artistic process. The gritty, fuzzy Jem Jr. images allow for disruption, ambiguity, and self-reflection by viewers, and create a truly unique perspective on archiving working artists. “ -Colleen Gutwein O’Neal
The Jem Jr. images are created in conjunction with modern, digital portraits depicting the artists in their studios or homes. The growing digital archive, the first such directory of significant visual artists in Newark, provides a useful tool and networking resource for the community at large and beyond. This portion of the project can be viewed at: https://www.newarkartsphotodoc.com/
May 5th was an incredibly grand opening of Express Newark. As a community partner at SHINE portrait studio, I offered black and white portraits to visitors, collaborators, and staff. Check out some of the featured images, and take some time to explore all that SHINE is involved in Here: https://www.shineportrait.com/opening
Join the celebration this Friday, May 5, 2017 for the grand opening of Express Newark and Shine Portrait Studio in Newark, NJ. I will be shooting complimentary black & white portraits in the Shine Studio from 5-8pm, as part of a happening. See the Small Forest contact page for directions to the studio. Click HERE for information about the Express Newark grand opening celebration. (accessible by train, bus, and car: parking deck available under the Hahne building, closes at 10pm)
I am very excited to be working with Matthew Gosser. He will be providing set pieces for the photoshoot from his current curatorial programming: “Art & Artifacts of Newark”.
The 5 Wards explore the diversity of Newark’s landscapes and people. Through photography, the artists reveal nuanced reflections of change, culture and community, providing a deeper analysis of the City of Newark and the current socio-political climate. Presented in conjunction with HYCIDE magazine, featuring works by Manuel Acevedo, Cesar Melgar, Tamara Fleming, Colleen Gutwein, Stefan Brown, Nema Etebar and Fabian Palencia.
January 29 – April 30
Seton Hall University School of Law
1109 Raymond Boulevard Newark, NJ 07102United States+ Google Map
Newark Open Doors 2016 will be happening October 19 – 23rd this year. On Friday, October 21st, three exhibitions I am showing work in will be hosting opening receptions. Free transportation to all of the gallery openings that night is available with registration for the “Gallery Crawl” through the Newark Arts Council. Hope to see you there!
The 5 Wards is a photography exhibition curated by Akintola Hanif featuring works by Manuel Acevedo, Cesar Melgar, Tamara Fleming, Colleen Gutwein, Fabian Palencia, Nema Etebar, Stefan Brown and Rhys Valmonte. Presented in conjunction with HYCIDE magazine, the exhibition will also launch The 5 Wards online series, which is part of Newark Celebration 350.
Complete information for The 5 Wards HERE
Facebook Event HERE
Market Street Convergence II
Samantha Katehis, above her studio.
October 21 – November 12 Opening Reception: October 21, 5-9pm Gallery Aferro @77 Market St (fl. 2)
25 exhibits/ 4 buildings/1 block/1 night Market Street Convergence II is presented by Gallery Aferro and the Newark Arts Council for the Open Doors citywide arts festival.
Alongside other photographic documentation of Newark, I will be exhibiting The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project: Selected Color Prints
Complete information for Market Street Convergence II HERE
Facebook Event HERE
Intersection 2016 features work by artists that have studios located at 31 Central Avenue in Newark. 31 Central has been occupied by artists and creatives for more than three decades, helping to establish an emerging arts community in the Halsey Street area and Downtown Newark. Intersection will also feature works by artists that have studios at 237 Washington Street – Index Art Center’s new location after a fire displaced the organization in 2013.
Complete information for Intersection 2016 HERE
Facebook Event HERE
My partner and I had the opportunity to take some time off of our regular lives this summer and move to a quiet little town in his home state of North Carolina, I have never spent long periods of time in the South, and with our upcoming marriage this seemed like an ideal situation to learn more about his family and culture. The chance to get back to nature and slow down my life was promising. I would also have plenty of time to dedicate to my ongoing documentary developing negatives and contact sheets in the nearby community darkroom.
This sabbatical, if you will, happens to coincide with my participation in the three month long Creative Capital professional development program. It was only necessary for me to be physically present in NJ for two meetings, an ideal situation for me. The rest of the work in the program is done remotely through webinars, online courses, Skype, and good old fashioned book learning. This program coupled perfectly with my time in North Carolina and has been eye opening. I have been able to think clearly without the distractions of daily life that usually surround me. I have taken a step back and given myself the opportunity to consider how I want to reorganize my home, office, and studio to make them more efficient. By decluttering my life and living simply for a few months in North Carolina, I have gained amazing perspective into what is and isn’t working for me. Being able remove all the things and ideas that are not propelling me forward has created more time for the people and activities I truly enjoy.
I am no stranger to traveling for extended periods of time. After college I spent a year teaching English in Japan with the JET Program. As a teacher in Japan, I saw a distinction between the way Japanese and American high school students prioritize and engage in activities. In Japan, schoolwork comes first. After schoolwork, students are expected pick one activity: a sport, hobby, or school club, and become the best they possibly can at that one thing. My upbringing in the American school system was a stark contrast. I was encouraged to be “well rounded” by having decent grades, play different sports all year round, and have hobbies all while working a part time job. Somewhere along the way this became overwhelming and the idea of striving for perfection with keen concentration was lost. Both high school experiences had a profound affect on my future self, as I now search for the balance between being well rounded and an expert in my field.
The Creative Capital program is helping me find this balance by showing me the tools necessary to stay on track with my artwork and finances at the same time. As an artist in today’s world I need to be well rounded enough to manage and run a small business, network, grant write, pitch ideas, and manage finances all while staying focused and becoming an expert in my field of photography. The guidance of Creative Capital has proven to be the missing link to pulling all of these aspects of my life together in harmony.
As the blended learning program winds down and ends next week, my time in small town North Carolina is coming to an end as well. When I move back up north to New Jersey I will be flung into the anxiety driven, fast paced lifestyle of a working artist. I get tense thinking about the transition. I used to work numerous jobs to support my art and budding photography business (www.smallforestphotography.com). When I return to New Jersey it will not only be a physical jump back into my old home, but I will metaphorically be taking one of the biggest leaps of my life. My only job will be self-employment with Small Forest Photography. It will truly be the time that I have to sink or swim. I will put the knowledge and tools acquired from the Creative Capital program into action not only with funding and completing my documentary, but in running my own freelance photography business.
I began my photography business as a way to support my artwork while I was working an office job that I despised. When I quit my day job my business wasn’t fully operational so I took on assisting jobs and retail work to make ends meet. Now the company is looking towards its 5th anniversary this March and I have to make the leap. Understanding the cost of living with the Real Cost Budgeting Tool has been invaluable in the effort to make my life work for me. It is one of the greatest pieces of paper that anyone has ever handed me. I was able to rework my entire business structure based on that tool and now feel very confident in my pricing. I have a been able to build a more sustainable business plan to implement upon my return to New Jersey. The most basic part of the plan is to march forward without fear. I still have some time left in North Carolina, and if I use my time wisely I will be able to meet my goals of working for myself while sustaining my art practice.
I find myself working in the darkroom, that cool dark place, where I am locked away in the basement of an old mechanical building, totally oblivious to the world passing by. I find myself deep in thought with the ventilation humming away, joined by sounds of jazz and bluegrass penetrating the air. I find myself constantly working on this documentary. I spend time in the darkroom with all of my friends, new and old, who are artists in Newark. I spend so much time in this one-sided relationship while working on their images, that when I see them in person after months, sometimes years, I feel like no time has passed at all. I want to pick up the conversation right where I left it, under the enlarger, in the drying rack, or muddled under the soft ripples of developer cascading over their faces. I live in a world of fantastic imagination with my friends. Within that world of the darkroom, I find myself thinking that this may be the most important moment of my life. After all of my hard work, years of education, after hardships, friendships, and worldly travel, after I am dead and gone, what I create in this one moment may be the only physical thing that survives. This one little piece of a negative, or that one print. Who will find it? Will anyone be able to connect these puzzle pieces to the vibrant Newark community which is now full of life, and love, and artistic power? How will we be remembered? Would anybody even care?
Leaving the darkroom, sunglasses sheltering my eyes, I climb up three sets of concrete stairs with heavy legs. I am leaving the darkroom with more proof of my existence, and the existence of my peers, than I had before I entered. I sit in the steamy car and review negatives and contact sheets. Reality begins seeping back into my mind as I make the drive home.
How can I sustain my work? What if I don’t get funding to continue this? How will I pay my rent? I roll down the driveway, say hello to my partner, and shower off the small of chemical. I sit at the computer, follow up on emails, try to find ways to restructure my freelance business, and scour the internet for grants and fellowships. I applied for three grants last month. Is that enough? How many more can I find to apply for this month? My partner meets with a reputable gallery and sends emails and letters to collectors. We are making work, important work. But how do we move forward? The uncertainty will surely lead to insanity if we don’t get a break soon.
I crack open that Creative Capital workbook and sign on for classes. I review my notes from the webinars and contemplate my peer group support meetings. I review my newest artists statement, bio, and CV. I have followed the Creative Capital writing program and am so thankful to be on task, and much more diligent in finding ways to secure my future. It dawns on me that if I made it this far in my career with none of these tools, I will be ahead of the game when I finish this workshop.
While reviewing my life goals in the workbook I see that I have left graduate school off of my list yet again. I have wanted to go to graduate school for over a decade now, but its off the list. Where would I find the money anyway? I don’t want a mortgage sized loan with no house to live in. How could I ever afford it? This program has made me realize that it is still ok to have these goals. It’s ok to dream without having money, because life changes abruptly.
In the evening when I should be slowing down my mind, little voices start creeping into my head… Oh my I don’t know how you do it…. Thats incredible you don’t have to work a real job…. How do you think you will be able to have a family as an artist?… It’s so cool you get to do what you want. … Could you donate to this?… I just want a really small photoshoot…. When are you going to finish the project?… I soon realize that I am battling other peoples fear of living this life as my own, and drift to sleep.
As the days march on, the workshop shifts. In the beginning of the program more things are assigned with clear deadlines. At this point in the program, less than one month away from completion, we are keeping tabs on ourselves and being held responsible by self-regulation and peer group meetings. We have completed the webinars and are given the option to take three online courses at our own pace.
I started my first online course with the blended learning program last week. I decided to take the Grants and Applications course since this is where I am with my project right now. I followed the first half of the seminars reviewing strategies on how look for funding. What struck me was the idea that anyone who partners with me and my documentary is not giving me a handout, they are partners because they share the same values that I do, and find my work to be important to the community.
The Creative Capital program is teaching me a variety ways to get the end result I need to sustain my work as an artist. The main thing, as I talked about in my last entry, is to just keep doing it. The cornerstone of writing better proposals is based on the amount of time I am spending writing them. Writing helps to articulate the goals of my project, and gives me a clear direction for the future Writing was something I used to shy away from. By forcing myself to do these journal entries, and rewriting my thesis for my current project over and over, I have been able to translate my work from photographs to words. This only makes me more confident in talking about the work and my processes. Without this program I definitely would not have pushed myself so hard. I am in training right now and I feel the growing pains. The most encouraging aspect of this training program is that I believe I am getting back what I am putting in.
One of the unexpected results from participating in the blended learning program is the emotional connection to other artists around me, more so than I already had with the documentary project. The peer groups create a platform for us to share our struggles, and has highlighted the importance of working together as a community. We can easily unify in our passion as culture bearers. We can start with that common bond and work forward towards a system for our children, and their children, to truly be free in the way they contribute to culture and society.
The transformative process of the Creative Capital Professional Development Program for artists is real. This program has been working for me as much as I have been working the program. It sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. I started this 4 month workshop just less than a month ago and my eyes have been opened to the reality of my situation as an artist and how to move forward in a sustainable manner.
Last week as part of the Creative Capital workshop, I participated in a webinar “Real Life Budgeting” with Andrew Simonet. One of the main topics was how to create multiple revenue streams. As Andrew explained his success with real estate, many of us were thinking that was out of reach. Most of us are trying to meet our monthly bills and not considering saving for a downpayment on a house. Andrew explained the longterm tax benefits of owning your own home, as well as perks of renting out an apartment within your home. He advised us that there were resources we could access to make this possible like FHA Loans set up by the government, as well as ArtHome which aids artists in buying or preparing to buy a home. He then listed a few things we could do immediately to address our financial situations.
1. Pull your credit report and see where you are standing financially.
2. Contact a realtor and get an understanding of what you would need to do to consider purchasing a home.
3. Track your expenses for the week to see exactly how you are spending money.
4. Figure out what your time costs per hour, per day, and per week.
I followed Andrew’s guidelines, except for tracking my expenses. I realized that itemizing everything I bought for the week just sounded horrible. Instead I took out the maximum amount of money I wanted to spend on miscellaneous items for the next two weeks in cash, put it in my wallet, and that was it. I could spend it on whatever I needed, but the cash was my limit. Somehow I still have $16.00 left and I feel great not using a debit or credit card and trying to work it out later.
Figuring out what my time costs was probably the most important suggestion on the list. I feel more confident in the way I am pricing my time because I have a clear understanding of the amount of money I need to make to survive. I might want to give someone a deal on my work, but that is not necessarily sustainable. I am hurting myself by trying to make other people happy, when in fact we will all be much happier in the long run if I am able to continue my practice as an artist and the work purchased from me increases in value over time.
Only one month go I felt guilty about making my art, embarrassed that I needed to include an artists fee in my budget for my documentary. At this point I am feeling empowered by my work and realizing that no one in their right mind would consider trying to pay all the expenses and donate over 10,000 hours to a project unless, possibly, they were independently wealthy, which I am not. I have to make this work. It isn’t a choice, it’s a responsibility to myself, my future self, to the community around me, and to the legacy of the culture my community has created.
—Colleen Gutwein is a documentary photographer working in Newark, NJ. She is currently developing “The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project” a photographic documentary cataloging contemporary artists working within the Newark arts community. Gutwein uses both digital and traditional photographic processes to create a range of viewpoints into the community and each artist as an individual.
Newark is having it’s annual Open Doors arts festival this weekend with over 50 galleries and artist studios to visit, now is the best time to experience the arts in Newark. For more information about Newark Open Doors and the venues involved click HERE.
Friday October 16th Index Art Center will host the opening reception for “Forum in Form”, a sculptural exhibition I curated featuring Domonique Duroseau, Amanda Thackray, Bisa Washington, Adrienne Wheeler, and Noelle Lorraine Williams. To read the full press release, see the post below or follow the link HERE.
The side gallery at Index will be exhibiting the artists from Index Art Center’s studio residency program. I will be showing some small works from the break-away series “We Are the Ghosts of Our Future”.
Post-Pocket Utopia will be adding to their exhibit #SeeingNewark in their new gallery space at the Gateway Center. I have some small works from The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project in this group show. For more information click HERE.
On Sunday October 18th, artists will open their studios throughout Newark. I will have my shared studio space (with the fabulous Joseph O’Neal) open and will be showing large works from the Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project break-away series “We Are the Ghosts of Our Future”. follow the Facebook event HERE
The closing reception for “Emerging Ideas” curated by Adrienne Wheeler will be on view in the Wells Fargo Building, 765 Broad Street, 5th Floor (entry around the corner on Bank Street) and will include large works from the Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project break-away series “We Are the Ghosts of Our Future”. For more information follow the Facebook page HERE.
There are lots more events happening in Newark this week…. just pop into one and you can get all the information you need to keep touring around the city. For transportation information and shuttle services click HERE….ENJOY!
Over the past two years I have been working on “The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project” with support from The Puffin Foundation and Index Art Center. As an artist working in Newark during the past decade, I have recognized the influx of artists and constant change to the communities surrounding them. Now is the time to capture the energy and creative spirit of the people involved in the current Newark art scene, as well as the physical sites of studios, galleries, and museums through photographic portraits. The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project is a two part series. The first part consists of the digital images available to view online at: www.newarkartsphotodoc.com (artists profiles are constantly being added as this documentary is not completed) . The second series consists of interviews and portraits taken with a 1940’s Jem Jr 120 box camera, manufactured by J.E. Mergott Co in Newark, NJ. These images will be on view as a full collection once the project is completed, and will be accompanied by a book including all of the images.