STATE 09: NEW JERSEY
Right on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we found our little end-of-summer sanctuary. It was mid-September, the warm days were fleeting, and I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to my favorite season. With some spare time before the state project, we drove through rural New Jersey to get to the wilderness of the Delaware Water Gap.
Years ago, a flight I had to NYC was rerouted due to weather and landed in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Needing to make an appointment in the city, I rented a car for the final leg of my journey. I remember driving through the Delaware Water Gap, both alarmed and in awe of how beautiful this place that I had never heard of. I told myself I’d return someday and when I did this time, I was in good company. I might be biased but I think Tyler is the best company I could ask for.
With all the kiddies back in school, we got to the Worthington State Forest campground and to our delight, it was completely empty! We chose a quiet little spot along the Delaware river, the first of the fallen autumn leaves scattered about.
Later that evening, we hiked up Mt. Tammany to watch the sunset over the green hills and river. It was the first hike we did of the entire tour and to be honest, it was a little rough as a heat wave was occurring in the area and evening with the setting sun, it was well into the upper 80s. Our faces red and sweaty from the climb, we sat on the rocks and took it all in, cooling down with each breath.
Still feeling adventurous, the next day we visited Bushkill Falls, located on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware river. While you did have to pay a somewhat hefty entrance fee to the area, we did appreciate the well-maintained trails, boardwalks, and beauty of countless falls.
When it was time to head back to city-life, we made our way to an area a ways out from Newark where our New Jersey project was taking place.
By this point in the tour, we had the ropes down of tear down and set-up. We were even getting the hang of life within the trailer, exploring different foods to fix including pizzas in our little convection oven! Life on the road was suiting us.
Once settled into the new site, we went into the city to tour Express Newark. I think their website says it best:
“Express Newark is a university–community collaboratory in Newark’s historic Hahne & Company building… At Express Newark, artists and community residents collaborate, experiment, and innovate in partnership with Rutgers University – Newark faculty, staff, and students with the goals of engaging in public work, creative practice, and democratic dialogue in order to promote positive transformation.”
Recognizing the potential for creatives to retreat into their own little bubbles, Express Newark’s thought-out intent and mission to engage the Newark community creates an open environment that we felt while touring the facility. As we were shown room after room of 3D printing, video-production studios, classrooms, artist studios, among a variety of other creative spaces, we were warmly greeted by all. The energy was infectious at Express Newark which we felt as we settled in to an artist studio space for a day of prep work and planning.
Highly recommended to us by graphic designer and Rutgers faculty member Jennifer Bernstein, we stayed around for Print Club, hosted by the Newark Print Shop located within Express Newark. My first time screen-printing, I had an absolute blast. It was so cool to experience and take part in the process of screen-printing, especially since all of the [HAS HEART] tees are screen-printed! Tyler designed me a little [HAS HEART] inspired cat graphic which we printed on a t-shirt and tote bag.
It was incredibly busy, all sorts of people wanted to take part of print club! There were people on dates, a grandma taking her grandchildren out for some creative fun, people making tees for their online shops, Rutger students, you name it. The Newark Print Shop employees were super attentive, explaining each step in the process, all the while providing you with enough space to experiment and take ownership of your little work of art. As you can tell, we loved it.
Given New Jersey’s reputation, we were pleasantly surprised by all that it had to offer us. We experienced its beautiful wilderness as well as the buzzing city of Newark. Sometimes overshadowed by the hype of New York City, it stood on its own for us, further demonstrating the at-times unnoticed gems strewn about this country that we’ll gladly go and enjoy.
*View the New Jersey state project we facilitated with U.S. Army Veteran Manny Galvan, and designer Jennifer Bernstein from Rutgers-Newark and Level NYC. Their collaborative design is entitled “And So It Goes,” an illustrative expression of Manny’s pragmatic outlook he cultivated while serving as a medic. Manny has a particular affinity for the saying “so it goes” from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five, feeling that it represents how he wishes to accept life’s occurrences for simply what they are.