Bringing Spring to Newark While It’s Still Winter

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Cherry trees to become canvas for massive art installation in Essex County Branch Brook Park

In Newark, more than 5,000 trees bloom in spring. Famed for the colorful spectacle that their petals bring each year, these delicate blossoms will lay claim to a new season in 2016. On December 1, 2016, Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) in partnership with the Prudential Foundation, City of Newark, and Essex County will launch Cherry Blossoms in Winter (CBIW). This multi-media, transformative, public art project commemorating Newark’s 350th anniversary will adorn the bare trees of Branch Brook Park against grey of the park in winter.

“This promises to be a spectacular closing celebration of the 350th anniversary of the city of Newark,” said Fran Bartkowski, project director of CBIW. “Art created by schoolchildren from the city and region, their teachers and artists from near and far.”

The project of lights, sounds, and decorations, led by RU-N’s English professor, Fran Bartkowski, is a collaborative, artistic endeavor with partners across many sectors. The City of Newark, Essex County, businesses, non-profits, community and faith-based organizations, K-12 Newark schools, higher education institutions, and local, national, and international artists are combining creativity with sustainability for display through December 2016. Renewable and recycled materials are transforming the canvas of the largest collection of cherry trees in the United States. Upcoming pop-up events are scheduled starting in October 2016, to take place at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center: Friday, October 15 – media event; Saturday, November 12 – celebrating teachers and artists; Thursday, December 1 – opening reception; Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10 – celebrating students and the rich history of cherry blossoms.

Inspired by the famous 2005 Central Park installation "The Gates" by Christo and Jeanne Claude, and reconceived for Essex County Branch Brook Park in winter of 2016 and the 350th anniversary of the city of Newark, this will be a signature project of that celebration. CBIW is supported, in part, by funding from RU-N Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s Seed Grant Program, Prudential, City of Newark Mayor's Office, Newark 350th, Newark Museum, Newark Arts Council, County of Essex, Branch Brook Park Alliance, and Essex County Parks. Funding provided for this project will support teachers and student installations, artist stipends, public programming, maintenance and installation of the project, and promotion.

For more information about this project, contact Erin Bush at 862-766-1072 or