March 13, 2019

HomeFront’s ArtJam Features Works By More Than 125 Artists

HOMEFRONT ARTISTS: From left, Terri F., Aileen O’Neill, and Creassya Y. display their artistic creations. HomeFront’s ArtJam, featuring the work of more than 125 artists, will take place from March 29 to April 16 in a vacant Palmer Square storefront. (Photo courtesy of HomeFront)

By Donald Gilpin

Featuring the works of more than 125 artists, HomeFront’s ArtJam will transform a vacant Palmer Square storefront into a colorful, art-filled pop-up gallery from March 29 to April 16.

The ArtJam gallery at 19 Hulfish Street will include a rotating display of art for sale, including paintings, pottery, glassworks, and hand-sewn items, created by professional international, national, and local artists, including previously undiscovered artists who have experienced homelessness.

“ArtJam invites art lovers to experience a double win, buying artworks they love and supporting a good cause,” stated HomeFront in the announcement of its 10th annual ArtJam event

HomeFront describes its ArtSpace program, through which many of the works were generated, as “a therapeutic art program, a special place where the creative process becomes a tool for self-expression, critical thinking, and problem-solving that can change the lives of the artists.”

ArtSpace/SewingSpace Director Ruthann Traylor pointed out the extraordinary level of community support for ArtJam. “There’s a lot of good energy, and because there’s so much good energy, things just fall into place,” she said, noting that in addition to 125 plus artists, there are more than 60 volunteers helping to staff the gallery, and more than 40 local businesses  providing food, gift cards, and other support services.

“It takes a lot of effort from volunteers and sponsors to put together this fundraising activity,” said Traylor. “But it is so wonderful to receive the community support and build awareness of HomeFront’s mission. When you’re doing something good, people want to get on board. We’re delighted that Palmer Square is giving us the space and all these businesses are helping us with the food.”

Traylor described some of the HomeFront artists whose work will be on display at ArtJam. “We include the self-taught,” she said. “We have artists who are living in HomeFront’s Family Preservation Center who have never exhibited art work before.”

One returning artist is Emily “estrange” Lewis, who was homeless when she first participated in ArtJam, but now has a degree from Parsons School of Design and is a successful artist.

Another Artspace artist, Aileen O., described her journey: “I left working as a registered nurse in a level 1 trauma burn surgical intensive care unit and was broken; I took care of others with intensity and passion, but neglected myself. Through HomeFront’s WorkFirst program I came to ArtSpace; it’s been the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boost I needed so intensely.”

She continued, “Since preschool age, I have always loved creating art. ArtSpace can be seen as a luxury, yet what it offers is essential for the soul. To be given permission to stop the daily bustle and rush, to be allowed, encouraged, supported in the pursuit of creativity—priceless.”

Another HomeFront artist, Nashea, sees ArtSpace as a chance “to have some peace of mind.” ArtSpace for her is a vital part of HomeFront. “It’s great for the people who live here,” she said. “It really helps to block out everything else going on. It stands as a sanctuary for those who live here.”

In reflecting on the value of ArtJam, Traylor stated, “Spring is a time of transformation. Through transforming this small corner of Palmer Square, we are bringing art and the story of HomeFront to the Princeton community.”

HomeFront founder and CEO Connie Mercer added, “We do more than provide shelter. We help people gain skills for self-empowerment and develop a vision of a better future for themselves and their children.”

The ArtJam opening reception will be held on Friday, March 29, and it is open to the public from 5 to 9 p.m. In addition to art for sale, during its 19-day run ArtJam will also feature live music performances, private parties, and artist demos.