ArtJam Pop-Up Gallery in Palmer Square Will Benefit HomeFront’s ArtSpace Program
ArtJam, a fun and funky pop-up art gallery to benefit homeless families, will open this Friday, February 20, with a public reception, from 6 to 9 p.m., at 19 Hulfish Street on Palmer Square. The show, which will continue through March 15, will include sculpture, glass, photography, jewelry, acrylics, watercolor, and oil paintings. Proceeds from the sale of each artwork will be split 50/50 between artist and ArtSpace.
“This is the fifth year we’ve done ArtJam to benefit HomeFront families,” said Ruthann Traylor, director of HomeFront’s therapeutic art program, ArtSpace. “The location changes when a storefront moves location and there is a window of opportunity to move in to help the less fortunate.”
Palmer Square has hosted the event on several occasions. In 2013 Architect Robert Hillier (a Town Topics shareholder) donated space at Princeton Hillier Studio on Witherspoon Street.
“This is a real community event where artists and art lovers come together to help our neighbors in need,” said Ms. Traylor. “What better way to help someone than by attending an art gallery and purchasing a piece of artwork that will benefit an artist as well as a mother or child who is experiencing homelessness.”
Eight of HomeFront’s own client artists will be featured in the exhibition together with some 50 local and national artists. Local artists include Heather Barros, Cynthia Groya, Shirley Kern, Susan MacQueen, Andrew Wilkinson, and John Shedd.
The accomplished New Jersey artist Jon Sarkin, renowned for combining words with elaborate images in his drawings and paintings, will have work on display, as will six artists from the famed Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s Living Museum in Queens, New York.
Mr. Sarkin’s work has been the focus of articles in The New Yorker and The New York Times, This American Life, GQ, ARTNews, and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and around the world.
“The mix of artists is as eclectic as the art — with amazing stories that have inspired the art and the artists,” said Ms. Traylor.
One inspiring success story concerns former HomeFront client Emily Lewis, now studying for her Master of Fine Arts degree at the Parsons New School for Design in New York City, where she works in the School’s metal shop to pay her way.
“Attendees to ArtJam in prior years have found the event inspiring, challenging, provocative, and entertaining, but this year, one artist, Emily Lewis, can truly say that ArtJam was ‘life-changing’ for her,” said Ms. Traylor.
Five years ago, Ms. Lewis was a 25-year-old single mother and high school dropout on welfare, with a future that looked pretty grim for her and her baby. She entered HomeFront’s WorkFirst educational program at their Family Preservation Center to obtain her GED and get some data entry training to help her find some sort of job. One day between classes she stopped by the brightly-colored and inviting ArtSpace studio.
Although she had not considered herself “artistic,” she discovered a well of creativity. “Emily was just amazingly creative,” remembered Ms. Traylor. “Everything she did was startling and unique. That year, a group of local artists helped HomeFront put on the first-ever ArtJam and we persuaded Emily to show five of her pieces. It was the last thing she ever thought she would do but she agreed.”
According to Ms. Traylor, that decision changed Emily’s life “beyond her wildest dreams.” She sold three paintings at that show and attracted the attention of a local art patron. The young woman who had previously hoped to be lucky enough to land a minimum wage job now had the confidence to apply for — and receive — a full, four-year scholarship to the prestigious Parsons School, complete with a housing stipend. She obtained her undergraduate degree last year. Her work will be featured in this year’s ArtJam.
HomeFront’s ArtSpace program gives the non-profit organization’s clients access to a restorative art studio where they can express any trauma on canvas and nurture their inner selves.
“In the midst of the horror of having no home, ArtSpace allows one to release and heal,” said Ms. Traylor.
ArtJam will run through March 15. For information on sponsorship opportunities or other ways to be a part of ArtJam, contact Ruthann Traylor at (609) 883-7500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.