Newark Symphony Hall (NSH), Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the City of Newark Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs have announced the completion of Black Newark, a new multi-facade mural installation by artists GAIA and Ernest Shaw. Located at 1020 Broad Street in Newark, N.J., the mural will be unveiled to the public on Tuesday, September 5, from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

“We are honored to unveil Black Newark in tandem with Newark Symphony Hall’s 98th anniversary this month,” said Talia Young, CEO of NSH. “This mural that will live on the South corner of the hall pays homage to the global legends who have contributed to this anchor arts institution also representing the future generations of creatives. It encourages the future development of the Black creative economy in this city and beyond.”

With its 100-foot wall that wraps into the rear of the prized performing arts venue, Black Newark invites pedestrians into a nook off Broad Street. The mural will encourage convening and be used for a variety of gathering opportunities by NSH and the community. 

“This mural captures the essence of a life force that permeates our city’s vibrant history and its powerfully creative present,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Newark pulses with an unbridled energy for soaring expression. The faces we see on this facade encapsulate our ability to conjure music and poetry from the rhythm of streets steeped in our ancestral spirit. I’m so proud and grateful for the artists and everyone who contributed to this surge of talent splashed across these walls. It is evidence of Newark’s determination to write its own story and sing our own song.”

Black Newark speaks to the institution’s nearly 100-year presence in the community. The primary wall features a montage of figures of impact, both famed and unsung. On the left, a sequence commences with Sarah Vaughn, the Newark native, after whom NSH’s 3,500-seat main concert hall was named. The placement and scale honor her upcoming centennial celebration. Following is Henry Lewis, the first Black conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) who strengthened and increased the orchestra’s capacity. Lewis also demonstrated a devotion to presenting music to the entire community, approaching New Jersey’s neighborhoods, where performances of classical music were virtually unknown. 

Centered is Leontyne Price, the first Black soprano to receive international acclaim, who packed the venue on March 25, 1970. Concluding the series is Amiri Baraka, Newark’s beloved poet, who created a number of defining texts for Black culture and Woody Shaw, a multi-disciplined jazz musician who grew up in Newark, N.J., and attended Arts High School. Shaw is known as one of the most influential jazz trumpeters and composers of the twentieth century. 

A back wall features Jimi Hendrix and recounts April 5, 1968, when the Jimi Hendrix Experience was scheduled to perform at Newark Symphony Hall the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. After playing one improvisation that he dedicated to MLK, Hendrix left the stage. An additional small facade facing Broad St. includes profiles of Queen Latifah and Celia Cruz, two women who are instrumental to the industry and to uplifting their hometown, and the Newark community. 

Tying these walls together are pastel drawings, the depiction of graphic masks, and Adinkra geometric shapes. A Great Blue Heron is centered and has migratory patterns in the wetlands of Ghana and Newark.

“Newark Symphony Hall has always been the beacon for Arts and Entertainment in our city. As this new mural is unveiled, I believe that we are solidifying this notion,” said Keith Hamilton, NSH Board Member and City of Newark Senior Manager of Property Management Field Operations. “Black Newark is a beautiful addition to the historical Richness of Newark Symphony Hall. World-renowned artists Ernest Shaw and Gaia continue to produce amazing work together and we as a community are truly grateful and blessed to have partnered with this dynamic duo to bring art and light to this space.”


Newark Symphony Hall
Born in 1925, Newark Symphony Hall (NSH) has been home to almost a century of arts and culture in what is now one of New Jersey’s oldest and largest arts and entertainment venues. NSH remains as committed as ever to providing an artistically rich experience for art lovers of all ages while creating career pathways for people of color and bettering both its community and the Greater Newark region. For more information on Newark Symphony Hall and events, 

City of Newark Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs

The Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs is the catalyst for participation, education, collaboration, and development to encourage and support excellence in the arts within the City of Newark.  
Learn more at


Gaia grew up in New York City and is a 2011 graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. His studio work, installations and gallery projects have been exhibited throughout the world, most notably The Baltimore Museum of Art, Rice Gallery in Houston, the Palazzo Collicola Arti Visive in Spoleto and the Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta. His street work has been documented and featured in several books on urban art, including Beyond the Street: The 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art, (Berlin, 2010) and Outdoor Gallery (New York, 2014). Gaia was listed as a 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Art and Style recipient in Art and Style and was a Fullbright beneficiary to study and paint in New Delhi and Bogotá on behalf of the State Department. In addition to a prolific and precocious artistic practice, Gaia has curated projects funded by the National Endowment for the arts, and consults with brands, organizations and government agencies on creative place-making projects. Gaia lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland, but spends a majority of his time painting murals across the world and has produced works in all six habitable continents. Learn more at:

Ernest Shaw

Being a native of West Baltimore has taught Artist Ernest Shaw the meaning of perseverance, community and integrity. As a product of Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore School for the Arts, Morgan State University and Howard University Shaw recognizes the importance of using his skills and talents for the betterment of others, not simply for his own self-aggrandizement. For Ernest, teaching is also an artistic medium. Learn more at:

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