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I’ve got a magic charm

Monday was the last day of classes for all of ART YARD Art Matters programs in our Jersey City schools. Managing Director Dennis Buonagura went out to PS 34, the President Barack Obama School, to finish up 2 second grade classes with their Maya Angelou/Jean-Michel Basquiat drawings (based on poems) and tie up some knots.

Book page from Life Doesn't Frighten Me

Jean-Michel Basquiat book page from Life Doesn't Frighten Me

I’ve got a magic charm That I keep up my sleeve I can walk the ocean floor And never have to breathe.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all Not at all Not at all.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

– Maya Angelou

Dennis reports: “Student artworks that were not exhibited were distributed amongst students; supplies were inventoried and placed in a storage drawer for next year; and an overall clean-up was completed and 'see you in September' was said many times."

Student drawing inspired by Maya Angelou and Jean-Michel Basquiat

Student drawing inspired by Maya Angelou and Jean-Michel Basquiat

Student drawing inspired by Maya Angelou and Jean-Michel Basquiat

Thanks to all at all 3 of our Jersey City schools - PS 6, PS 17, PS 34!!


We are gearing up for ART YARD Summer Session 2023, in which we will inaugurate our new theme Do Something!. Selected to make us think about getting back into the swing of things after the long haul of the last few years, the theme is also designed to be flexible, thus accommodating action oriented topics appropriate to all our various programs.

For Summer Session 2023 our focus will be Art as Activism. A rich and fascinating topic which even in the planning stages has sparked much enthusiasm. This week we used our regularly scheduled ART YARD Advanced Studio Zoom slot for a Summer Session planning meeting.

PowerPoint cover page with drawing by Zeke Brokaw

Pat summarizes: “It was so exciting to be part of the professional development session! Several of the Teaching Artists who were going to be presenting lessons at ART YARD Summer Sessions used the time to organize and workshop their ideas. I appreciated Meridith's introduction--a lesson on how to plan lessons! She gave a lot of good advice on timing, selecting and sharing images, and thinking about the needs of a group of students from a wide age range. We then broke up into pairs. I got to work with Jules--I learned so much from hearing her talk about her lesson on tattoo art! During critique, the teaching artists each presented a preview of their lessons.

It was a mind-blowing whirlwind tour of so many exciting projects and ideas, with each "preview" itself a mini-lesson: Jane on protest signs:

Example of protest signs from Jane's lesson plan

Jules on designing temporary tattoos:

Jules Lorenzo, page of tattoo flash

Karla on the concept of collecting art:

Karla presenting her lesson concept

Ajani on the FLUXUS movement and its idea of "using society as a medium,”:

Ajani presenting their lesson concept

Vera on performance and ephemera:

Vera presenting their lesson concept

Eden on fashion design inspired by Pride Parade couture ("wearing things is doing an action"):

Eden Moore, Photo from Pride 2023 and Edith Head costume design

Jacob on site-specific memorials:

Examples from Jacobs lesson: Ghost Bike, Comfort Women Sculpture and George Floyd Square. Use arrows to scroll.

We can't wait to see all of the projects that come out of these lessons!”

Marilyn adds: “Thanks for including me in the Summer Session planning meeting. It was a brilliant idea to bring us all together to work on the lesson plans. What a wonderful assortment of art projects and challenges—and such a talented and diverse group of teaching artists! I can’t wait to follow the recaps about Summer Session 2023!”


ART YARD Summer Session 2023

Art As Activism is an intensive art making series open to artists over 11 years old, a multi-generational community of focused and supportive creative people.

Sessions run from 11:30am-3:30pm, Monday – Thursday July 10 - 27, 2023. Most classes will be held in our studio at BWAC in Red Hook, Brooklyn.


This evening ART YARD Advanced Studio met in person at The New York Historical Society and Museum to view Nature, Crisis, Consequence which looks at the social and cultural impact of the environmental crisis on different communities across America.

Philip Reisman, Love Canal , 1983

We enjoyed the the thoughtful the selection of artwork and range of artists. John J. Audubon's highly rendered birds enter into a compelling dialogue with a flamboyant feather mask by the late New York Times photojournalist Bill Cunningham in one gallery and with Osceola Red Shirt (Oglala Lakota) (b. 1976), Genevieve Red Shirt (Rosebud Sioux, Chickasaw, Taíno) (b. 1978), Resilience: Living in a Pandemic since 1492, 2021.

Eden looking at Audubon, Bill Cunningham in foreground. Nature, Crisis, Consequence

The label copy was informative and interesting, sparking more conversation amongst us.

Eden and Jane discussing Mary Reilly’s graphite drawing of graffitied trees

We just made it in time to the last day of this topical exhibition, on point as we wind down our Year of Planet Earth!

Subway mosaic from the 81st Station

Other Art News

Congratulates to ART YARD Artist Vera Tineo whose site specific installation which is part of Grand Street BID’s be(longing) opened to the public yesterday. Their work can be seen (from the street 24 hours) in the window at 588 Grand through July 23, 2023.

Vera Tineo, Installation street view


No Justice Without Love, at The Ford Foundation Gallery a well curated, beautifully installed and deeply moving exhibition brings up so many important tangents to the larger theme. The title comes from the writer Jimmy Wu, who wrote “There is no justice without love” for a For Freedoms billboard. The exhibition embraces bell hooks’ theory of “Love as the Practice of Freedom.”

Many of the folks included in No Justice Without Love are familiar power house artists such as Faith Ringgold, Benny Andrews, Julie Mehretu, Hank Willis Thomas, Jesse Krimes, and Titus Kaphar.

Installation detail, Hank Willis Thomas, I am A Man

Others are exciting artists we learned about in Dr. Nicole Fleetwood’s remarkable exhibition Marking Time Art in the Age Mass Incarceration (to which we had a curators tour and related zoom Advanced Studio sessions) including Russel Craig, Jared Owens, Gilberto Rivera and James Yaya Hough (who’s Invisible Life drawings about the emotional effects of incarceration on an individual by take my breath away.) .

James Yaya Hough, Untitled (from Invisible Life series)

While still at the gallery I sent Iviva an image and link to jackie sumell’s Abolitionist’s Apothecart, 2021. Similar to Iviva's own focus, the project situates plants and herbs within artistic practice, and orients perspectives around the liberatory nature of our natural environment.

Installation view: jackie sumell, Apothecart. Photo Meridith McNeal.

One wall installed salon style included a bookshelf holding many recommended books. I have preordered Ken Grossinger’s Art Works: How Organizers and Artists Are Creating a Better World Together. Available on July18th, I plan to bring this in to share with Summer Session Artists!

Recommended reading, installation view. Photo Meridith McNeal.



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