International Curator Okwui Enwezor To Be Honored at Newark’s Premier Contemporary Art Center

April 24, 2015 (Newark, New Jersey)—Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art presents a stellar event—The Aljira (dreams are for real) Fine Art Auction 2015—after launching a year-long celebration of the institution’s 30 years as a beacon of creativity.

The Aljira Fine Art Auction 2015 will be held on Thursday, May 21st at 6–9pm. Proceeds from this event help sustain Aljira’s exhibitions and programs, including Aljira Emerge, a professional development program for emerging and underrepresented artists, and Culture Creators, an art enrichment program for local youth. Supporters of the event help ensure Aljira’s sustainability in the heart of Newark’s downtown arts district. The annual, festive Auction features original works of art by leading established and emerging artists of our time and attracts audiences from throughout New Jersey and New York.

This year’s Auction highlights include works by Frank Bowling, Marcia Kure, Chitra Ganesh, Wangechi Mutu, Hank Willis Thomas, Derrick Adams, Firelei Báez, Cecile Chong, Esperanza Cortes, Dahlia Elsayed, Xaviera Simmons, Shoshanna Weinberger, and Rachel Perry Welty.

The fundraising Auction will be held in Aljira’s galleries at 591 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey. The party begins at 6pm with wine, music and hors d'oeuvres. The Timehri Awards presentation and live auction will begin at 7:30pm. Tickets for the Auction can be purchased at Tickets are $130 per person in advance online by phone or by mail and $150 at the door and can be purchased at To reserve a place on the shuttle van from midtown Manhattan ($12 round trip), email Ridhi Shetty at Valet parking is also provided. Auction updates are available at and

Auction Highlights

Highlights include benefit prints donated by renowned artists—Mickalene Thomas and Willie Cole. Auction Honoree Dawoud Bey will also unveil his newly created double portrait of Willie Cole commissioned by Aljira for collectors to purchase.

The festive evening features more than 50 works of contemporary art, a silent and live auction and a party that hosts prominent artists, arts patrons and cultural icons from New York and New Jersey.

This year, collectors will be able to bid on auction artworks online beginning May 7th through Paddle 8 at

Preview auction works of art in Aljira’s galleries from Thursday, May 7th through Thursday, May 21st. A free preview event on the evening of May 7th will include a conversation about collecting art with curator Dexter Wimberly and collector Patricia A. Bell and a celebration for Willie Cole. All artwork is on view at


This year Aljira will present Okwui Enwezor, international curator and Director of the Visual Arts Sector of the 2015 Venice Biennale, and celebrated artist Dawoud Bey with Aljira’s Timehri Leadership in the Arts Award.

The Honorary Auction Chair is The Honorable Ras J. Baraka, Mayor of Newark and the Honorary Co-Chair is The Honorable Nina Mitchell Wells. Auction Co-Chairs are Aljira Trustee Patricia A. Bell and celebrated artist Mickalene Thomas. We are pleased to again welcome Harmer Johnson, author, appraiser and auctioneer whose talents guarantee highly spirited bidding and a successful event. 


About the Honorees:  Okwui Enwezor and Dawoud Bey

Okwui Enwezor is a Nigerian curator, art critic, writer, poet and educator specializing in art history. Mr. Enwezor presented one of his earliest curatorial projects at Aljira with co-curator and Aljira co-founder, Carl E. Hazlewood in 1995. The following year, Mr. Enwezor had his breakthrough in 1996 as curator of In/Sight, an exhibit of 30 African photographers at the Guggenheim Museum. Enwezor is the director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. In 2013, Enwezor was appointed Director of the Visual Arts Sector of the 2015 Venice Biennale, making him the first African-born curator in the exhibition’s 100-year history. Previously, Enwezor was the artistic director of Documenta 11 in Germany (1998 -2002) as the first non-European to hold the position. He has curated numerous other exhibitions in distinguished museums around the world.

Dawoud Bey is renowned for his large-scale color portraits of adolescents and other often marginalized subjects. Over the course of his career, he has participated in more than 20 artist residencies. Currently living in Chicago, Bey is a professor of art and Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago and is represented by Mary Boone Gallery (NYC), Rena Branston Gallery (San Francisco) and Stephen Dalter Gallery (Chicago). His most recent completed work, The Birmingham Project, commemorates the six young African Americans killed in Birmingham, AL on September 15, 1963.

“The arts create jobs and have a real impact on the economy,” says Aljira Executive Director Victor L. Davson. “We aim to strike a healthy balance of give and take. We nurture our community through art and in turn when people take time to support what we do, we feel validated and honored. It is an honor to celebrate the work of Enwezor and Bey as an inspiration to us all. Their recent honors are richly deserved.”

Aljira Fine Art Auction Sponsors

The Aljira Fine Art Auction 2015 is underwritten by Pharmachem Laboratories, Prudential Financial, PSE&G, Merrill Lynch, PNC Bank, Newark Downtown District, David Ellis Events, and individual contributions.


About Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art

Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art fosters excellence in the visual arts through exhibitions and educational programs that serve as catalysts for inclusiveness and diversity, promote cross-cultural dialog, and enable us to better understand the time in which we live. Public understanding and support of the visual arts are strengthened through collaboration and community-based educational programming. Aljira seeks out the work of emerging and underrepresented artists and brings the work of more established artists to our community. Through the visual arts Aljira bridges racial, cultural and ethnic divides and enriches the lives of individuals.

Aljira’s operations and programs are made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Cultural Trust, The Kenneth Aidekman Family Foundation, Bank of  America, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Edison Properties Newark Foundation, Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Hyde and Watson Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Lambent Foundation, MCJ Amelior Foundation, PNC Bank, Prudential Financial, The Prudential Foundation, The Turrell Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and many generous individual contributors. 

Aljira is located at 591 Broad Street in downtown Newark. For directions visit our website at The Center is open Wednesday through Friday, 12–6 pm and Saturday, 11 am–4pm. Phone 973 622-1600, fax 973 622-6526, Follow Aljira on Facebook:; on Tumblr: and Twitter: