Express Newark: Rock Steady
By Express Newark
Hosted by novelist, literary critic, and art aficionado, Dr. Fran Bartkowski, Express Newark's Culture podcast Rock Steady dives into the art and activism scene of Newark and its surrounding areas. You'll hear from poets, performers, visual artists, graphic designers, scholars, and many more creative individuals who make up this vibrant city of cultural workers and artist activists. Founded in 2018, Express Newark is a center for socially engaged art and design at Rutgers University - Newark.
Engineer: Eric Johnson
Marketing: Dana Damiani
Engineer: Eric Johnson
Marketing: Dana Damiani
Salamishah Tillet: Falling in Love at Hello.
On this final episode of Rock Steady, our host, Fran Bartkowski, talks with Express Newark Director, Salamishah Tillet, just awarded a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in The New York Times. Salamishah discusses her very deep roots and love for Newark and how the city is intrinsic to her identity. She tells of how reading Amiri Baraka in college was just one of many threads that kept her connected to the city of Newark, and recounts how the first time she entered the Hahne's Building and Express Newark it was "love at hello."
May 12, 2022
In-depth with Artist Adrienne Wheeler
Adrienne Wheeler is a multi-media artist, curator and arts educator who has exhibited widely. Her familial roots in Newark are multi-generational. Fran and Adrienne discuss the impact of the pandemic, given that she was in Senegal when lockdowns came. They also explore how her involvement in The Glassbook Project developed into an oral history project with her mother, which then led to the work on The White Dress Narratives.
April 12, 2022
Newark Entrepreneur - Linda Street
Aka Pink Dragon Lady, Linda Street is an artist, designer, and entrepreneur based in Newark. She is also executor of the archive of the works of recently passed legendary Newark artist, Jerry Gant. She curated his recent retrospective exhibit at the Paul Robeson Gallery, "Bulletproof Ambition." Fran and Linda have an energetic conversation about her work with Jerry Gant, as well as Linda’s projects including the reigniting of her fashion brand, Pink Funk, during the pandemic, and the creation of a Black Lives Matter mural at Manufacturer's Village in East Orange, and the documentary film about that project.
March 16, 2022
Gwen Moten: Deep Roots in Newark and Beyond
Our host, Dr. Fran Bartkowski, met Gwen when she was Director of the City of Newark Arts and Culture initiatives. In the 1990’s, Gwen was named President Clinton’s cultural liaison in Africa. She currently serves as Music Director for the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank. Fran and Gwen discuss two of her ‘pandemic projects,' among many other topics, including, virtual programming for children in Newark that harness the participants' creative energies through life skills. Finally, Gwen talks about her creation of a gospel choir.
February 15, 2022
Scheherazade Tillet on Activism, Art & The Ties That Bind Us
On episode one of season 4 of Rock Steady, our host, Dr. Fran Bartkowski, talks with Shine Portrait Studio Artist-In-Residence Scheherazade Tillet. Scheherazade Tillet is a photographer, youth organizer, and an art therapist. Her art and activism have been featured in the New York Times, Teen Vogue, The Chicago Tribune, on MSNBC and NPR; and she currently has an exhibition at PROJECT FOR EMPTY SPACE in Newark, called "Black Girl Play." We learn about the Black Girlhood Altar project that has taken root in many cities, and was borne out of working through her sister’s sexual assault in photographs. Fran and Scheherazade also discuss the many outcomes of this creative connection between herself and her sister, and their familial roots in Newark. Salamishah Tillet, her sister, is the current Director of Express Newark and she will be our guest on the final episode of Rock Steady in the coming weeks.
February 04, 2022
Fonts and Social Justice
Professor of Graphic Design and founding member of Express Newark, Chantal Fischzang is the guest on this episode of Season 3. An award winning designer, originally from Bolivia, Chantal talks about the Newark Street Murals project for which she chose the font called "Martin" named for Martin Luther King Jr. She also describes the call for proposals for the project called "Will You Be My Monument?" which took place after the City of Newark removed the Christopher Columbus statue in Washington Park, and where a new monument is due to appear.
November 08, 2021
Ruminations On Visualizing Data
Fran’s guest on this second episode of Rock Steady Season 3 is Jennifer Bernstein. Jennifer is Associate Professor in the Department of Arts, Culture, and Media who teaches Graphic Design. Jennifer was among the visionaries of Express Newark, and Co-Directs Visual Means and the Design Consortium projects, both partners at Express Newark. Her interest in data visualization led to a collaboration with Rutgers Law School Professor David Trout. In working on displacement of diverse kinds in the city of Newark, her work tries to address how design and data can integrate the represention of pain and suffering.
October 19, 2021
Keary Rosen: "We will make that thing a reality."
Director of the Form Design Studio and a Professor in the Arts, Culture, and Media department at Rutgers-Newark, Keary sits down with Fran in this first episode of Rock Steady, Season 3. Keary discusses how the Form Design Studio, at the beginning of the pandemic, pivoted from creating 3D art for faculty, students, and community to a studio that created Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the medical community in New Jersey. In his personal art practice Keary has been working on a piece called "The Mirror Test and The Book of Life."
September 24, 2021
The Upside of the Pandemic is the Reach
Fran’s guest on this episode of Rock Steady is John Schreiber, Director of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark. John and Fran discuss how an anchor institution such as NJPAC, that lost 90% of its revenue due to Covid, and laid off a large portion of its workforce, managed with great success to curate, develop, and produce quality virtual programming.
June 19, 2021
Linda Harrison - making an impact in Newark.
One of only 6 African American museum directors in the country, Linda Harrison became Director of Newark Museum of Art in 2019. Before her move to Newark, Linda was the Director of the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. Linda chats with Fran about what the pandemic has taught us, including how to make art live online,,, and how it heals, as well as how it can connect families.
June 07, 2021
Art changes the world, and Newark’s bright future
Professor of Sociology and Executive Vice Chancellor of Rutgers-Newark Sherri-Ann Butterfield is Fran’s first guest of Rock Steady Season 3. Sherri-Ann talks about how her life experiences shaped her commitment to the arts. She emphasizes how the arts are a gateway for students in higher education that may often be overlooked. Fran and Sherri-Ann also talk about how collaboration between Newark’s non-profit, business community and the university are strengthening the Newark Arts ecosystem.
May 17, 2021
"Are they going to let you do that?"
Fran’s guest on this final episode of Season Two, is artist, gallerist and Inaugural Express Newark Co-Director, Victor Davson. Victor reflects on the work toward opening Express Newark, his early life in Guyana, his artistic career, and how he and his wife, Cicely Cottingham, collaborate artistically. Victor also discusses two current projects: a documentary on his life and work, and "The Misogyny Papers," a painting series based on a cache of photographs and writings he found under the floorboards of a cottage on his property.
April 30, 2021
Birthing A Third Space
Professor Anne Schaper Englot is Fran’s guest on Episode 9 of Season 2. Anne was the Inaugural Co-Director of Express Newark, a role she says she could not have imagined before she came from Syracuse University to Rutgers University-Newark when Nancy Cantor became Chancellor. Fran talks with Anne about the concept of a "third space," which is the foundation for Express Newark's co-creating between the university and the community, as well as her scholarly work on the Public Universal Friend, and Utopian Communities of the 19th century.
April 28, 2021
The Ordinariness of Goodness
On this episode of Rock Steady, our host Dr. Fran Bartkowski sits down with the Dean of Rutgers-Newark School of Arts & Sciences, Dr. Jacqueline Mattis who had prior connections to Newark and New Jersey before she became our leader at the School of Arts and Sciences Newark in mid-pandemic. We hear her view of the arts as means of storytelling, and her hopes for Express Newark that it become a catalyst for merging STEM fields and the Arts.
April 17, 2021
Trepidation and Optimism
On this episode of Rock Steady, Fran talks with maverick Professor, Tim Raphael. Tim is a theater professor in the Arts, Culture, and Media Department at Rutgers-Newark, and serves as the Director of The Center for Migration and the Global City. Tim founded Newest Americans, a multimedia collaboratory focused on the immigrant experience that has garnered wide recognition. Fran and Tim discuss Newark’s place in our universe; Stories from the Pandemic, a project born out of the past year's upheaval; and the role that the arts have in 21st century life.
April 02, 2021
In conversation with prolific muralist, Layqa Nuna Yawar
On Episode 6 of Season 2, Fran has an engaging conversation with public artist, Layqa Nuna Yawar. A recipient of many awards, Layqa is a graduate of Mason Gross School of the Arts, and a Newark resident. His murals can be found in communities around the world. Fran and Layqa discuss his work as an artist, his history as an immigrant, and what it means to him to have both his birth name, and his chosen created name. Most striking is how he sees his mural work as a bridge between the spiritual and the corporeal.
March 26, 2021
Newark Artist Jo-El Lopez
On this episode of Rock Steady, Fran engages with artist and curator, Jo-El Lopez. A native of Paterson, he discusses how his painting practice is influenced by Christian motifs such as stained glass. His desire to become an artist and the vitality of the Newark arts community led him to give up a business career, and to work and live in Newark as an artist.
March 09, 2021
Chilling Out with Wayne Winborne
On this episode of Rock Steady, Fran chats with Wayne Winborne, executive Director of Rutgers-Newark Institute for Jazz Studies - one of the largest and most comprehensive libraries and archives of jazz-related materials in the world. Fran and Wayne also reminisce about Rutgers Newark historian, Dr. Clement Price. Clement's Place, a jazz club, at 15 Washington Street (now Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall), is named for him and his lifelong love of jazz.
February 25, 2021
The Wow Factor: Newark Arts Maverick Rebecca Jampol
On Season 2, Episode 3 of Rock Steady, Fran engages in a lively conversation with Rebecca Jampol. To say Rebecca wears many hats is an understatement. She is a Teaching Designer in Rutgers Newark - Arts, Culture Media department, a Newark Arts Activist/Advocate through her work as Co-Director of The Project For Empty Space, Project Manager/Curator of Four Corners Public Arts Project, and Mom of a two year old. Rebecca discusses how the pandemic has brought the already collaborative nature of the Newark Arts community even closer together to pool resources; the public murals on Treat Place and Beaver Street, and how through the Andy Warhol Foundation, her organization is providing serious financial support to Newark artists.
February 13, 2021
Teaching Letterpress While Anchored in the Pandemic Harbor
Rutgers Professor of Graphic Design, Ned Drew engages with Rock Steady Host, Dr. Fran Bartkowski in a lively discussion. As a founding member of Express Newark, Ned talks about how the idea of Express Newark was birthed, to the June 2020 Newark Street Mural project, to how to teach LetterPress remotely, to keeping creatively afloat while anchored in the Pandemic Harbor.
January 29, 2021
Engage, Don't Run!
On our first episode of season 2 of Rock Steady, our host, Fran Bartkowski has a spirited conversation with Marcia Brown. Marcia is Vice Chancellor of External Relations and Government Affairs for Rutgers Newark. She is also founding member of the Newark Repertory Theater Company as well as a poet. Fran and Marcia discuss how to engage community in this late-stage pandemic, Marcia’s long history of activism, her love affair with the theater, and more.
January 08, 2021
When Things Come Apart
On Episode 6 of Rock Steady, Fran’s guest is artist and gallery director Anonda Bell. Anonda is the Director of Rutgers-Newark Paul Robeson Galleries, and is also a practicing artist. Fran and Anonda explore the meaning and the fragility of networks and their physical manifestation as a web. Two of Anonda’s pieces were part of a group show in 2020 at the Akwaaba gallery in Newark.
December 21, 2020
Michael DeVon's Artistic Eye
On this episode of Rock Steady, our host, Dr. Fran Bartkowski speaks with Newark native Michael DeVon. Michael DeVon is the founder of Artistic Passion & Purpose, an organization that is an Express Newark community partner. Michael discusses how he has moved forward with Artistic Passion & Purpose programming (hair styling, sewing, cosmetics, fashion) despite the pandemic, with the development of The Artistic Eye Magazine.
December 11, 2020
The Big Pivot with Julie Winokur
In this episode of Rock Steady, Fran discusses with Julie Winokur the ‘big pivot’. Julie's film production company, Talking Eyes Media, which is the communication arm of Express Newark Partner, Newest Americans, pivoted their work with immigrant communities to Covid times by launching Stories from the Pandemic - a project that has garnered serious attention and an article in the NY Times. Julie also discusses her new film The Sacrifice Zone which centers on the Ironbound neighborhood in Newark - the largest superfund site in the U.S and the people on the ground working for environmental justice.
November 30, 2020
Artist Jordan Casteel dives deep with Fran
In this episode of Rock Steady, Fran interviews artist Jordan Casteel. The artist, who is a faculty member in the Arts, Culture, Media Department at Rutgers-Newark, currently has a solo show WITHIN REACH, at the New Museum. Jordan and Fran discuss how the shift from normalcy to pandemic living has affected Jordan’s art practice which is driven by connection with people in her Harlem neighborhood, her work with students, and being out and about in the world. The artist also ponders the question: with faces donned in masks, how do people project what they are thinking and feeling to others around them?
November 06, 2020
Fran talks with the City of Newark - Arts & Cultural Affairs Director, Fayemi Shakur
Fran sits down with Newark-based artist and arts advocate Fayemi Shakur who is a cultural critic and interdisciplinary artist. Fayemi's writing has been featured in national and international outlets including The New York Times, Hyperallergic, CNN Style, VICE, The International Review of African American Art, Nueva Luz Photographic Journal, HYCIDE magazine, and MFON: Women Photographers in the African Diaspora among other books and publications. She was selected for several artist residencies in 2019 that include Critical Studies Artist in Residence at The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Artist in Residence at Shine Portrait Studio, and Feminist in Residence at Project for Empty Space.
October 20, 2020
Fran Bartkowski chats with Rutgers Chancellor, Nancy Cantor
On this inaugural episode of Rock Steady, Dr. Fran Bartkowski speaks with Rutgers Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who is a leading voice on higher education in the United States. They discuss the meaning of Express Newark, the arts during Covid, and the idea, as discussed in the New York Times, by Legacy Russell, a curator at the Studio Museum of Harlem, of what 'an emotionally intelligent future for institutions can be.' '
September 28, 2020