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Sanctioned Graffiti Goes Mainstream in Downtown Somerville

Arts on Division mural by Jerome Gonzalez. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Graffiti artist Jerome Gonzalez celebrates completion of his mural Thursday night. Credits: Courtesy Gallery on Main
Graffiti artist Jerome Gonzalez came prepared to work.
Graffiti artist Jerome Gonzalez at work on his mural on Main Street Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Graffiti artist Jerome Gonzalez would stop frequently, step back and check on his progress. Credits: Rod Hirsch
One minute, Jerome Gonzalez would be on his knees, next minute up on the step ladder. Credits: Rod Hirsch

SOMERVILLE, NJ - Graffiti art has gone mainstream on the streets of the downtown shopping and restaurant district.

The artwork is sanctioned by Arts on Division, sponsors of a three-day weekend that celebrates the visual and performing arts, concluding with Sunday’s Central Jersey Jazz Festival.

While organizers welcomed artists and visitors to the “Somerville Perspectives” exhibit of paintings and photographs at Gallery on Main Thursday night, local author and street artist Jermome Gonzalez was busy at work outside on the sidewalk, giving life to his art form on an eight-foot faux-brick mural supported by a 2-by-4 frame.

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Gonzalez was in constant motion, shaking spray cans, adjusting his respirator, flicking his wrist as he swept up, down and sideways, working the nozzle on the spray can to achieve the desired swirls and garnishes that were taking shape. He’d stop, stand back and go back at it again, hundreds of times, as he fine tuned the mural.

Finishing up long after dusk Thursday night, Gonzalez’ mural pays tribute to those who will take to the streets in pursuit of their art this weekend.

The mural has been moved across Main Street where it is now displayed on Division Street, where the activity shifts for the next two days.

Large block letters stacked atop one another – AOD – (Arts on Division) is just one of several murals that will be created by other graffiti artists this weekend. The murals will be mounted on the walls of several buildings alongside the many walkways downtown that lead to municipal parking lots.

Arts on Division continues Friday night, Sept. 16 with a 5:30 p.m. performance by the Slackjaw Blues Band on Division Street,  followed by the Whitehouse Wind Symphony which performs on Division Street at 7 p.m.

Graffiti artists, cube artists and The Artisan Market: Artists and Artisans will take over Division Street on Saturday, Sept. 17, selling a variety of artwork from jewelry to photographs, ceramics, paintings and more from noon-6 p.m. See mural painting by James Kelewae and J. Mike Kuhn, and cube painting by Gonzales and friends.

Participating artists include Matthew Allouf, Dana Benner, David Gallina, John Giftus, Katie Gloede, Emiliano Gonzalez, Janet Hickey, Jezebel & Raven’s Grace, Dan La Mountain, Nicole Miller, Matthew Scottile, Jennifer St. Pierre, Marian Stewart, Susyn Timko.

Featured artwork by members of the Printmaking Council of New Jersey will be on display as well as artwork by students at Somerville High School and Immaculata High School.

The Division Street stage will also feature music performances by students enrolled at Somerville’s School of Rock from noon-2 p.m.; drum competition from 2-3:30 p.m. and music by Bryan Hanson from 3:30-6 p.m.

On Sunday, Sept. 18, it’s all about the Central Jersey Jazz Festival.

The all-star lineup of performers includes:

·         Javon Jackson Quartet

·         Vanessa Rubin with Special Guest

·         Don Braden

·         Isaiah J. Thompson Quintet

·         Additional Performances by Jazz House Kids

The Somerville Jazz Festival will be presented on the Somerset County Court House Green, at the corner of E. Main & Grove Streets. It's produced and hosted by Downtown Somerville Alliance and Sheila E. Anderson, author and on-air personality of WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM.

Bring lawn chairs and blankets.

Further information is available online at artsondivision.com and centraljerseyjazzfestival.com

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