Marked By Ashes: The Return of Index Art Center
On December 20th, Index Art Center reopened its red doors and cast a tattered white flag to the wind. After suffering the loss of its former space on Broad Street in Newark, when the store underneath the gallery caught fire and caused permanent damage to the structure above, Index was forced to close in June, 2013. This winter, shaken of ashes and baring a newfound bravery, Index has ascended from the flames.
Inducted into the gallery for the center’s revival were the installation artworks created by the industry’s leading regional artists: Gianluca Bianchino, Lily Koto Olive, Joseph O’Neal, Matthew Gosser, Kevin Merkel, William Oliwa, and Hannah Craft. Lowell Craig, alongside curator Colleen Gutwein and coordinator Linda Chen, raffled off artworks by supporting artists Steve Jaskowak and Amanda Thackray to raise funds for building the up-and-coming artist residency program at the gallery. This program is a major keystone to the arts community in Newark, New Jersey as it supports artists firsthand by providing them with studio spaces to create and produce artwork. This type of regional residency plants key artists directly into the city as they work, allowing them to develop stronger connections with the community.
Index Art Center of Newark has cultivated an evolutionary atmosphere of the arts, fostering the growth of vital systems synergistically working to sustain culture in our community. Established in 2010 by Lowell Craig as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Index collaborates with fellow nonprofits for the arts and with local schools in the community. Its mission is to cultivate educational programs, systematize community-based arts programs, and promote emerging artists and give them the opportunity to unite with one another and build within a creative environment. What distinguishes Index from any other local art gallery is its founder’s, curators’, and supporters’ steadfast dedication to the advancement of the arts in the community for the benefit of its citizens.
Unlike competitive art galleries who segregate themselves for a more private stroke or two of their own ego, Index has established a working coalition with New Jersey-based Oculus Art Collaborative, another nonprofit arts organization headed by artist/musician hybrid Heidi Hussa. Since the success of the grand reopening in December, IAC and Oculus’s mutual interest in the exploration and promotion of contemporary art and artists brought them together on a joint showcase entitled <form> which featured a plethora of diverse and eclectic artists leading the forefront of local district arts. Headlined by artists Danielle De Block, Helen Gutowski, Heidi Hussa, Lizzy Storm, and Barbara Wallace, <form> showcased some of the industry’s most progressive installation, video, and performance artwork.
Index Art Center recognizes art in all its evolutional bodies. As genres transform over time, Index provides its arts with the space to make it happen and the support to keep it revolving in the contemporary atmosphere. Index additionally supports the sustainability of local literary arts and publications. Recently, the center hosted a ‘zine exchange event, which served as a communicative networking experience for local writers, journalists, and editors to swap wet ink straight off the presses. This showcase, entitled Canoes, featured an eccentric mix of visual and literary meda as well as distributed Discharge Magazine, a homegrown rack rival which put down roots this past August and runs comprehensive reviews on our area’s independent music festivals.
Index Art Center is in many ways a direct reference to its name. In the twentieth century, creating an index was a method of keeping a record of an event by documenting the psychology and physicality of the artist who generated the marks and eternally preserving the moment in which the creation had occurred. This automatic mark-making was pioneered by Jackson Pollock and has etched its influence into the Index Art Center. Index has fought to revolutionize the way we experience art here in New Jersey by working in the face of destitution to ensure that art continues to evolve as a component to our little urban universe. Serving all facets of Newark’s artistic community, Index stands behind eudcating in art, enlightening its patrons, activating its artists, and by doing exactly what its name says it will do: leave an index for Newark’s memory.