Pollifax: Forging a Niche – Sidney Cooper

It started out as just a passionate conversation between two people about writing and the growing arts community in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Christine Tran, 21, senior at Rutgers University, writes poetry and is active in the poetry community and local politics. Kevin Olitan, 22, recent graduate of Rutgers University is involved with the music community, local art organizations, and university-affiliated creative art programs.

She spent her summer in Berlin exploring the nightlife, architecture and art; he thought he was destined to write useless poetry and fiction and mindlessly play guitar in his room all day and night.

Olitan remembered Tran talking about starting a literary magazine with a mutual friend that never happened. They met up one afternoon in July at Thai Noodle, a local restaurant located on bustling Easton Avenue in New Brunswick, having extraordinary chinwag – Olitan and Tran shared their experiences in being organizers and part of the New Brunswick creative arts community.

“There was so much social and political expression within the art and poetry I studied this summer in Berlin, which led me to find a new understanding in the importance of self-expression in a scenery of such unrest,” said Tran, 21, web designer and photographer.

“We both agreed that there were too many writers popping out of the New Brunswick scene and not enough open mics and literary avenues to help them get published and grow,” said Olitan, videographer. “Out of a whim and boredom really I asked her if she still wanted to do a literary magazine.”

They thought it would be great to help promote the growing writing and music scene and help expose the sheer talent within the city. With Olitan’s involvement in the music community and Tran’s in the poetry scene, they were able to put together an online cultural publication showcasing writers, artists, and musicians interestingly under what they call the “Wanderer Sessions.”

While Tran learned the tricks of web design and HTML in a short period of time, Olitan sharpened his videography skills. In August of 2009, they came together in creating an independent creative arts publication. Pollifax.com, in the span of a month, became real. Currently, the publication is only available online, but the founders plan to publish a six month compilation book in the near future.

One of the writers showcased on Pollifax is Zandra Ruiz. Ruiz found out about Pollifax through her English professor when asking how to become more involved in the literary community.

“Pollifax is like home. It’s a mix of everything I love about New Brunswick,” said Ruiz. “It’s created by people I know, so it isn’t intimidating to submit my writing.”

Olitan and Tran have worked so hard to provide this space for artists, most definitely appreciated by writers of the literary community.

Proud writer featured on Pollifax, Christopher Raymond Campbell, was actually approached by co-founder, Tran, asking if he would submit his work. From then on he has made an effort to submit a writing piece for each new upcoming volume.

“Pollifax, to me, represents a grassroots movement in New Brunswick to preserve art,” said Raymond. “The ‘Wanderer Sessions’ showcase incredible talents and the poetry section gives life to a thriving writing community, as well.”

These “Wanderer Sessions” are recorded videos that will be online forever not just something that can easily be shut down, like a lot of shut down venues. Inspired by Vincent Moon, guerilla filmmaker — filming takes place in random places like street corners, classrooms, and buses with one camera.

“I want to represent music in its most basic, most beautiful, most genuine form, without any of the embellishments and bells and whistles that our culture today is so obsessed with,” Olitan said. “One camera and a shit load of amazing music. That’s it.”

The point of “Wanderer Sessions” is to showcase all talented bands in and out of the city like a memory or souvenir. The aspiration of this was not only promotional but it was for the people of the city and the world to see, unveiling this whole underground arts culture.

“It was a shame that kids from the University, who are right on fucking top of this bubbling art scene, know absolutely nothing of its existence,” Olitan said.

Hardevi Shah, poet showcased on Pollifax, was drawn to this online cultural magazine because it has no other purpose than to communicate and share a voice as opposed to being a competitive cultural publication.

“It has become this great way to connect the past, present and future of the New Brunswick community,” said Shah. “Pollifax is a baby publication that has been gaining incredible exposure through word of mouth, which is the truest gift to effort.”

Olitan and Tran both agreed that for a town full of talented artists, there is a lack of public venues and space for artists; there is little space for young artists to grow. Their ultimate goal is simply to provide a venue in and of itself for the people of New Brunswick.

“We have engrossed ourselves in the continuously growing arts community of New Brunswick and hope to continue to showcase the talents of this city and potentially artists in cities beyond,” Tran said.

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Meet the Pollifax Crew and More at Alfa Art Gallery

Upcoming Events:

  • March 26, (Friday) – 7pm-11pm – POLLIFAX at Alfa
  • March 27, (Saturday) – 2pm-4pm – “The Contemporary Relevance of the Renaissance Palette” – a lecture by Michael Price
  • April 2, (Friday) – 7:30pm-10:30pm – Vesselin Kourtev – solo exhibition
  • April 9, (Friday) – 7:30pm-10:30pm – “Uptown”, a Novel – Book promotion and signing

March 26th, 2010 – “Another Sunny Day” – POLLIFAX at Alfa

The Alfa Art Gallery is pleased to collaborate with the independent online creative arts publication, POLLIFAX, presenting “Another Sunny Day” on Friday, March 26th. Pollifax features the works of artists ranging from musicians to local writers from in and around the area. During their time as Rutgers students, founders Christine Tran and Kevin Olitan encountered instances of unrest regarding the lack of public art spaces and local venues for music while even independent coffee shops were closing down. The two created Pollifax as a “space” for the growing amount of talent coming in and out of the city.Currator: Julianna Ritter
Doors open at 7pm – $5 suggested donation

The founders will introduce their initiative to showcase the arts community of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Olitan will present “Wanderer Sessions”, a set of live, music videos featuring both local New Brunswick musicians and the ever-growing stream of talented bands passing through the city. Local poets will perform pieces inspired by art from the Alfa. Followed by performances by bands featured in the “Wanderer Sessions.”

(click here to learn more about this event)

March 27th, 2010 – 2-4pm – “The Contemporary Relevance of the Renaissance Palette” – a lecture by Michael Price

Outline (approx. 2 hours + questions/discussion)

Most contemporary artists are fighting a battle on their canvases. They have no knowledge of what is in their tubes of oil or acrylic paint, and to make matters worse they paint on canvases primed with a ground that carries the mysterious and generic name of “gesso”.

This lecture focuses on a lost art of painting. Its revival is in its infancy. The presentation focuses on a comparison of the so-called “historical pigments”, i.e. natural and mineral pigments such as lapis lazuli, azurite, malachite, cinnabar etc. with modern synthetic pigments such as cobalt blue, French ultramarine and cadmium red. Michael Price presents his ongoing pigment research with the world famous Doerner Institute of Munich, Germany.

  1. Introduction – The language of colour (physical characteristics).
  2. Prerequisites for the luminosity of the Renaissance Masters – Support, ground, pigments & binding mediums.
  3. Support and ground – panel v. stretched canvas – (traditional gesso v. the decline into the confusion and profusion of modern grounds).
  4. A comparison of natural & and mineral pigments from rocks and crystals with modern synthetic pigments – (pigment chroma)

    • Detailed analysis – mineral and synthetic pigments under the microscope – (pigment particle size, refractive index of pigments)Mineral pigment preparation – (levigation techniques)
    • How to improve the luminosity and drying time of synthetic pigments.
  5. Prerequisites for the choice of binding mediums with natural and mineral pigments (natural distempers, egg tempera; natural fir balsams, pine resins, cold pressed oils, polymerized and co-polymerized oils). This information can be applied to modern pigments.
  6. When is “oil paint” really oil paint?
  7. Conclusion: historical and contemporary examples of paintings with “chromatic intensity”.

Admission: $5

(click here to learn more about this event)

April 2nd, 2010 – Vesselin Kourtev – Solo Exhibition Opening Reception

Opening Reception: April 2nd, 7:30-10:30pm
Exhibition Duration: April 2nd – April 21st

Starting in the early 1990s, Vesselin Kourtev has exhibited his artwork worldwide. Now in April 2010, the Alfa Art Gallery in New Brunswick, New Jersey will present his newest exhibition in collaboration with the release of Virginia DeBerry’s newest book Uptown where the title of each painting correlates to a chapter in her novel. There is an overtone of alluring energy in the figures and their composition with the background, offering the viewer ghostly, yet harmonious, visions of an abstract world. His tones and hues, especially in his painting Full to the brim of future(Chapter 20), express a sense of liberation as birds cascade over a saturated green landscape presenting a celebration of hope. The product of this process of creating a relationship between language and image is to build the bridge between different art mediums and to create a layer of ideas, a central theme in Kourtev’s work.

About Vesselin Kourtev’s exhibition by Virginia DeBerry

New Year’s Celebration leads to a Cross-Cultural Collaboration when bestselling author Virginia DeBerry attended a New Year’s Eve dinner at New Brunswick, New Jersey’s Alfa Gallery, she anticipated only an entertaining evening with friends old and new, and a different way to begin a new decade. Instead, the event gave rise to the Uptown exhibit, pairing Uptown, the latest novel by DeBerry and her writing partner Donna Grant, with the paintings of noted Bulgarian artist Vesselin Kourtev.

“I visited the gallery and was shown several canvases of Vesselin’s new work,” says DeBerry. “One painting in particular struck me as representative of both the closeness and the struggle between cousins Avery and Dwight, the main characters in our book.” This realization led to a discussion about the relationships between different art forms which proved to be the catalyst for gallery co-owner Galina Kourtev to put together a show called Uptown. Each painting is named for a chapter in the book, and Vesselin drew inspiration from the story for one special work entitled “Uptown.”

(click here to learn more about this event)

April 9th, 2010 – “Uptown”, a Novel – Book Promotion

Reception: April 2th, 7:30-10:30pm

The 2000’s have witnessed both the real estate boom and the real estate meltdown. The fluctuating market has made headlines nationwide. In the seventh novel by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant, they too reached for the headlines in undertaking a story about a mogul’s dreams to build a real estate empire.

What is the true price of greed, unfettered ambition—and forgiveness? New York Times bestselling co-authors and best friends, Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant, who brought you Gotta Keep on Tryin’ (2008) and What Doesn’t Kill You (2009) are back with a story as big as New York City itself, following a wealthy, prominent family caught in a storm of sexual scandal, secrets, betrayal, and politics.

In UPTOWN: A Novel (Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster Trade Paperback; March 2, 2010; ISBN: 9781439137765; $14.99) Dwight Dixon’s dream is to take over the Harlem real estate empire his father King has painstakingly built and to bring to fruition Dixon Plaza, a luxury high-rise complex on Central Park North. Everything, including his wife and daughter, comes second to his goal of changing the face of Harlem, and finally earning his callous father’s approval.

Avery Lyons, Dwight’s estranged cousin, returns to New York City after the tragic death of her mother, who also held a stake in King’s real estate company. After nearly two decades abroad, Avery reluctantly re-enters the life and neighborhood she had fled after Dwight, with whom she once shared a close bond, betrayed her trust. To Avery, Dwight’s lies cut deeper than the hurt and shame she felt after being attacked by one of her cousin’s friends. With her sassy and hot-tempered high school best friend Alicia at her side, Avery wades through the papers and deeds her mother left her, including the key piece of property Dwight needs in order to get his precious Dixon Plaza off the … (click here for the rest)

(click here to learn more about this event)

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