By Madeline Orton
At Art All Night in Trenton, ArtWorks’ 24-hour art and entertainment festival, there’s an implicit challenge — how much of “all night” will you participate in?
“Oh, I’ll be here for 24 hours,” said Anthony Coluccio, Art All Night co-chair and ArtWorks board member, smiling. “Honestly, I probably won’t go home.”
“I usually make it ‘til 4. That’s like my average time,” shared Leon Rainbow, artist and Art All Night master class teacher.
From 3 p.m. Saturday to 3 p.m. Sunday, the 50,000-square-foot former Roebling Wire Works factory building becomes a playground for art-lovers, offering demonstrations, classes, live music and artwork by more than 1,000 different artists.
“Let’s say this building is empty on Friday at 5 o’clock, and by Saturday at 3 o’clock, there are a thousand-plus pieces of artwork in the gallery, so this is a pop-up gallery like you’ve never seen before,” explained ArtWorks Board Chair James Peeples.
“We just want to encourage the arts, and encourage creativity, and encourage folks who might not consider themselves artists, to give it an opportunity,” said Joseph Kuzemka, co-chairperson and creative director of Art All Night.
Art All Night, now in its seventh year, shows works by artists of all experience levels, boasting both “refrigerator art” and professional pieces alike.
“We don’t try to group the professionals in one spot and the amateur work or kids’ work in another spot,” said Coluccio.
Rainbow sees the event as an opportunity for artists. “I think it’s great. I was able to sell my piece this year already,” he said.
Nina Mason, a teen artist from East Windsor, was excited to share her success with the event. “I sold all three of my pieces. This is my fourth year…It’s just really fun. You’re so excited when you find out,” she said
“To be able to be seen by such a wide audience, you never know who could be here — a gallery owner, a collector, a patron or a future patron,” said Rainbow.
For Trenton, Art All Night means more than 30,000 people spending time downtown — a welcome occurrence for a city that’s had its fair share of bad press.
“We understand that there are negative headlines that come out of the city,” Kuzemka said. “And we’re here to show you that there are very positive things coming out of the city as well. And it’s not just us.”
Peeples agreed. “I see the arts and culture in general as being one of the engines that’s going to revitalize the city of Trenton… There are people from areas that have never come into the city of Trenton, there are people from areas that would potentially be fearful about coming into the city of Trenton, who will come to this event on a regular basis, on an annual basis,” he said.
And residents are excited at the opportunity to be a part of it.
“Right now, as far as positive events, we don’t really have one of this magnitude, especially one that’s come from such a grassroots level that everybody is involved with,” explained Rainbow.
Cherry Oakley, a Trenton resident, attended Art All Night for the first time this year and was happy with what she found. “I came down, had childcare taken care of, and I’m really, really impressed, really proud to be part of this city,” she said.
“What we’re about is community, culture and creativity,” said Peeples. “With this event every year — Art All Night — we have our mission accomplished.”
For artists hoping to make sales, many also accomplished their mission with more than 140 pieces of artwork sold, the most in the event’s history. Art All Day, ArtWorks’ related event of self-guided art tours, will be held this November.
Major funding for NJ Arts is provided by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the F.M. Kirby Foundation.