19TH CENTURY HISTORY
Built in the 1880s, the Manufacturers Village complex is a well preserved example of Victorian industrial architecture, located in East Orange, New Jersey. It was the original home of Johnson & Johnson, then known as Seabury & Johnson, which made medical plasters and supplies. In the early 1900s, the partners George Seabury and Robert Wood Johnson parted ways, and the Seabury family retained ownership of the buildings, renting the spaces to a variety of small businesses over the course of the 20th Century, and up to the present day.
TWENTY FIRST CENTURY TO PRESENT
In the mid 2000s a small group of visual artists moved into the buildings, renovating the spaces to create working studios, and paving the way for other artists to follow. Over the next sixteen years, and continuing through 2022, more artists invested their time, money, and sweat equity in building out dozens of studio spaces within the buildings, and in the process created a thriving art community of diverse makers and thinkers.
Manufacturers Village is now a nexus for over 60 artists who work in painting, sculpture, installation art and photography.
Manufacturers Village has also served as an incubator space for many small businesses including a number of designers, woodworkers, and startup businesses, all of which has resulted in 100% occupancy and a waiting list for space.
OPEN STUDIOS & ARTIST RESIDENCY
Each October, the Manufacturers Village Artists host an Open Studios event, inspiring thousands of visitors from the neighborhood and surrounding communities, as they explore the wide range of studio spaces, experience the enormous range of work in progress, and directly engage with the artists about their ideas and projects.
In addition, artists from the local neighborhood have curated and exhibited their work as part of the event. As word gets out, more people attend and enjoy this cultural exchange.
Initiated in March of 2021, Liquitex art materials has been generously operating an on-site residency program that gives underserved artists free studio space and art materials, enabling them to explore their creativity and artistic vision.
BLACK LIVES MATTER COMMUNITY MURAL
In response to the murder of George Floyd, a core group of the Manufacturers Village Artists, working with the support of the building owners, initiated and organized one of the largest Black Lives Murals in the country, located on the parking lot at Manufacturers Village. This 9,000 s.f. mural was designed and painted by artists of color from the greater East Orange area. Because it is one of the few surviving murals from that time, the mural has become an important landmark in the history of the national Black Lives Matter movement, and a point of pride for the City of East Orange. Thanks to the work of the artists in the building and the support of the buildings owners, the mural has been carefully maintained, and will be preserved for generations to come.
The mural provided employment for East Orange artists and professionals in the midst of the Covid pandemic. The Manufacturers Village Artists were able to accomplish this in partnership with Arts Council of East Orange, and Pink Dragon Artist Syndicate with the support of the City of East Orange. The entire project was paid for by the generous contributions of Liquitex, and over one hundred community members.
The BLM mural at Manufacturers Village has been featured on NBC News, ABC News, News Channel 12. A documentary of the mural making process by the local filmmaker Kiymora Smith was premiered at the Montclair Art Museum in January of this year, and was also shown at The Cicely Tyson Community School for Performing and Fine Arts. The mural will also be featured in the upcoming television show ‘ArtNation’, premiering fall 2022 on the Smithsonian Channel.
The artists envision Manufacturers Village expanding its current role as a flourishing and inclusive art and culture destination by adding support from federal, state and private investment. In continued partnership with the Arts Council of East Orange (Non-profit 501 3c) we will be able to allocate investment for new construction and the development of year round cultural programs to benefit the local community and beyond.
Visitors and patrons would not only come from East Orange but also from the surrounding region, bringing an influx of economic activity to the local economy.
Located near three train stations, Bloomfield, Watsessing and Brick Church, and right off the Garden State Parkway, visitors would have easy access to all that the creative complex would offer. We are seeking state, non-profit and/or corporate sponsorship that would fund this transformation and provide a future endowment to ensure East Orange’s art community continues as a cultural asset for the City of East Orange and the State of New Jersey for years to come.
Enhancements to the existing art studios
& small business could include:
• Contemporary Art Exhibition Space
• Mixed Use Community Space
• Performance Space
• Black Lives Matter Sculpture Park
• Additional Artist Studio/Small Business Incubator
• Expanded Artist Residency Program
• Museum Store
Partnership with the Arts Council of East Orange
The artists of Manufacturers Village have established a relationship with the Arts Council of East Orange working together to create the BLM Community Mural after the murder of George Floyd.
Our vision includes providing a home for The Arts Council and supporting their goals as a multidisciplinary organization encompassing the following key functions:
Operate a center for arts education, literary events, and performing arts that is accessible to people of all ages and from all socioeconomic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Serve the community through events, as an advocate for art appreciation, and as a catalyst for artistic activity in the surrounding area
Enhance economic development through the arts initiatives recognizing its impact in the community through the support live/ work housing, retail, restaurant, and order entertainment activities.
Provide support and develop and coordinate structure for local artist in all disciplines.