Why This Is Awesome: I know we’re closing out the month of November, but allow me to take you back to an even busier time in our lives … October. Although my favorite month of the year was spent working every day for one job or another, I made a point to squeeze in small escapes from my to-do list to take in as much of my nearby arts and culture scene that time would allow. One of those escapes included the opening reception for Brick City Litty, a photography exhibit held in Newark’s own Index Art Center.

One of the amazing features of Brick City’s art scene is how creative minds make a way out of no way, and curator Sally Helmi’s exhibition was a welcoming tribute to that cultural resilience and fortitude. At a time when the city’s changing landscape is making a lot of local artists feel abandoned or manipulated, Brick City Litty offered a port in the storm to remind creatives sans galleries, pop-ups, and trust funds that a community’s value lies in its people, not necessarily in the structures that rise and fall in their wake.

Another grand feature of Newark’s art scene is how there is something for everyone. Helmi’s show at Index reflected this dynamic beautifully at the opening reception with the inclusion of poets, spoken word artists, singers, performance artists, and The Genii Collective, an 8-member live band mixing hip hop, rock, R&B and jazz with a raw energy that matched the spirit of the crowd, the exhibition and the night. My small (and insufficient) video clip of one of their numbers at the event was an attempt to capture a lotus moment that has stayed with me ever since. Enjoy!