Creative Placemaking Projects

Since 2014, ArtsBergen has been working with the City of Hackensack, Bergen County’s capital, and the Hackensack Main Street Alliance to implement Creative Hackensack, the city’s creative placemaking initiative. With its partner the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking (NCCP), ArtsBergen led a group of over 40 community leaders, the Hackensack Creative Arts Team (CAT), that identified cultural assets, built community support for the arts, and developed a creative placemaking plan for ensuring that arts and culture play an integral, vital role in the city’s redevelopment. ArtsBergen is now a consultant to the city providing ongoing advisory and project development support for its creative placemaking initiative.

Creative Hackensack (CAT) Projects

In 2015-2016, the following projects were produced in consultation with ArtsBergen by the Hackensack Creative Arts Team (CAT), and the city’s Main Street Business Alliance.

The Hacktivator

“The Hacktivator”, a unique method of gathering community feedback using the arts, was installed on site at the NJ Transit Bus Station in Hackensack to gather survey data from transit and Demarest Place users about how they envisioned a future redesign for Demarest Place. This interactive tiny booth fitting one actor, lit up when a participant answered the question “What brings you back to life?” and slipped their survey into the booth, activating  a live performer, who came to life by performing a personalized dance, rap, skit, etc.

The Demarest Place Walkway Mural

The Demarest Place Walkway Mural on the corner of Demarest Place and Main Street is a large-scale mural beautifying Demarest Place, a walkway between the Atlantic Street Bus Terminal, Main Street, and the Hackensack Performing Arts Center (HACPAC). It’s theme was chosen through a community-driven engagement process, and was designed and painted by artist Damien Mitchell.  The mural reads, “Greetings from The Sack, New Jersey,” a nod to the famous Bruce Springsteen album, “Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ.” Within the large letters of “The Sack” are images representing the identity and culture of Hackensack, including an image of the HACPAC and one of John Coltrane who along with Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, recorded at the legendary Van Gelder Recording Studio, originally located in Hackensack.

Utility ARTBox Project

Eight artists were selected to paint anti-littering murals on eight utility boxes on Main Street and beyond in Hackensack, NJ. The project was produced in partnership with Creative Hackensack, The Northern NJ Community Foundation, the Main Street Alliance, and the City of Hackensack and was funded in part by a Clean Communities Grant, with a primary focus on litter prevention.

Each box served as a canvas for a painted mural that illustrated a clear message of anti-littering or litter prevention. The goals of the project were to create public awareness of the negative effects of littering through public art and to beautify the community by incorporating public art into ordinary elements of the city, like utility boxes.

The Main Gateway Mural

ArtsBergen managed Creative Hackensack’s first creative placemaking project, The Main Gateway Mural. The 160-foot mural depicts the city’s artistic and cultural history and showcases its shared creative vision for becoming a dynamic, arts-filled community as outlined in its “Creative Vision Statement.” The mural beautifies the neighborhood, engages passersby, and is a beacon to the community, illuminating the city’s commitment to the arts as a foundation for its renaissance.

The mural artists were Damien Mitchell, acting as Lead Artist, Monica Chavarria, Lissanne Lake, Johnny Newcomb, and Stephanie O’Connor.

Art on a Stick

“Art on a Stick” is a Public Art Installation created by Damien Mitchell that uses art to enliven Main Street and engage passersby. Colorful art mounted on wooden stakes are positioned in flower boxes, grass, and tree beds etc. along Main Street to create a profusion of colorful art. Art on a Stick includes these dynamic components:

  • “The Hackensack Is Creative Art Gallery”, a structure of framed surfaces on which the public can write and draw messages and images.
  • “Raccoons”, 40 realistic images of raccoons engaged in various forms of human behavior arranged to create entertaining, amusing, visually diverting public spaces.

CAT Walk Art Exhibition

CAT Walk Art Exhibition is an outdoor art exhibition/event celebrating local and regional artists. Different locations in Hackensack, NJ come to life with performances and displays of art, art demos, and live music. Visual art is also featured with Drawing, Mixed Media, Painting, and Printmaking artists exhibiting original works.

The Arts Village

The Arts Village attracted several hundred visitors at the 11th Annual Hackensack Street Festival. The event featured music, The CAT Walk Art Exhibition, and a display of art and messages on the façade of a building created by attendees using erasable markers.

Other Projects

The Daily Arts Dose

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