(Bergen County, New Jersey; April 21, 2017) -- Passersby of the Johnson Public Library in Hackensack, New Jersey may have noticed new patrons -- raccoons -- outside the building. These delightful creatures are the latest creative placemaking collaboration, "Art on a Stick: Raccoons", between the Hackensack Creative Arts Team (CAT) and the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation's (NNJCF) ArtsBergen initiative, a nonprofit organization based in Englewood, New Jersey and the only community foundation in Bergen County.
"These small projects, when taken as a whole, start to convey the message that downtown Hackensack is undergoing a cultural transformation. There are new sights, sounds and smells that weren't here before. People love the unexpected, and you can see it in their faces as they walk by. Music, art and nightlife are slowly coming back, seemingly ushered in by these whimsical, nocturnal creatures. Bring on the night!" stated Albert Dib, City of Hackensack Director of Redevelopment.
Integrating Arts and Culture
The CAT’s Creative Hackensack integrates arts and culture into the redevelopment of the Main Street in the city to enliven the streetscape and engage community members. The projects beautify and revitalize the community by incorporating public art into commonplace elements. In “Art on a Stick: Raccoons”, a public art installation by artist Damien Mitchell, this ordinary and ubiquitous animal is altered through colorful art and creativity, animating and transforming spaces along Main Street.
"Part of the Foundation's ArtsBergen’s mission is to promote creative placemaking, the practice of integrating arts and culture into a neighborhood, town, or region, to build community and livability and boost the local economy, in Bergen County. Arts and culture are a proven way to restore vitality and energy into a community. This is especially important to the city of Hackensack, which is in the midst of redevelopment. Investing in the arts by providing opportunities for local artists to use Hackensack as a canvas to express their creativity, makes the city enjoyable and accessible to all members of the community," said Danielle De Laurentis, NNJCF Associate Director.
Partnering with local nonprofits and businesses to incorporate and showcase the arts is integral to CAT’s work. The Johnson Library has embraced Creative Hackensack, hosting a CAT monthly Open Mic night and now is the site of "Art on a Stick: Raccoons". "They are clearly artistically sound, at first they seem like a delightfully whimsical addition to our lawn, but if you really look closely, there is a lot of depth to the art," said Sharon Castanteen, Director, Johnson Public Library.
This unique installation will be on display on the Johnson Library's lawn, located at 274 Main Street, through the summer.
The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF), a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Englewood, New Jersey, focuses primarily on civic engagement, education, public health, the arts, and the environment. NNJCF works with local governments, school districts, businesses, non-profit organizations, and citizen groups in Northern New Jersey to improve community life. The Foundation's partners identify and resolve regional problems and opportunities by talking and learning from each other, by sharing ideas, best practices, services, and resources.
For more information, visit http://s216151.gridserver.com/, send an email to [email protected], or call (201) 568-5608. Follow the NNJCF on Facebook at Northern NJ Community Foundation/ArtsBergen and Twitter @NNJCF.
ArtsBergen, an initiative of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, is an emerging arts alliance in Bergen County, New Jersey that supports and encourages creative placemaking, the practice of integrating arts and culture into a neighborhood, town, or region to build community and livability and boost local economy. The initiative's mission is to energize and unify artists and arts organizations and connect the Bergen County community to the arts. For more information, visit http://s216151.gridserver.com/artsbergen/, send an email to [email protected], or call 201-568-5608.
Picture: “Art on a Stick: Raccoons”, a creative placemaking art display at the Johnson Public Library