Gallery U; Art that heals

Recently I was approached by Gallery U (Red Bank location) manager/curator Robert Langdon, to exhibit in the “Awakenings” show…the 1st in a hopefully long-running series of group shows.  Well, I’m so glad I did because not only was it a fantastic opening, but I’m proud to now be represented by Gallery U and have been participating in these shows for the last few months.   It’s a great feeling to know my artwork is helping people and Robert does an excellent job of promoting not only the gallery, but the artists and the great causes Gallery U supports.  It’s a wonderful concept to utilize art to aid in healing as well as to bring the community together in creative ways.  So, I felt that given the unique and helpful qualities Galley U possesses, I wanted to feature these special spaces in my blog.  Thanks to Robert Langdon for the following article and photos.  I hope this will encourage you to get involved!

The headline that Monmouth County’s newspaper, Tri-City News, used for Gallery U’s cover profile was “Among One of the Greatest Stories We’ve Ever Told.” A pretty strong statement. But a justified one.

For those unfamiliar with Gallery U (with locations in Red Bank, NJ; Montclair, NJ; Bethlehem, PA; and Royal Oaks, MI) let me offer a brief introduction. The galleries themselves are owned by Universal Institute, a rehabilitation center for adults with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and acts as an extension of their Vocational Training Program. Each Gallery U is a fully-functional art space that exhibits original contemporary art, but what makes them stand out among other traditional galleries is that their main purpose is to offer their clients with TBI an opportunity to engage with their community and rejoin the workforce. The daily tasks at each location, such as inventory and customer relations, are handled by Universal’s TBI clients. In addition, vocational therapy is offered using art as a medium under the direction of resident artist Carmen Bury.

Galley U holds monthly group exhibitions with a focus on exhibiting local artists and at least 10%-20% of the art created by Universal’s clients. Some of the art is created by individual clients or collaboratively where each client adds an element until it is a completed piece of art. Gallery U strives to make art accessible and affordable with no retail price exceeding $500. Proceeds of all art sold go to the artists and toward funding Universal’s vocational programs.

My own involvement with Gallery U started with the opening of their first location in Montclair, NJ in

2009, and my photography has been included in a number of their exhibitions since. In 2010 I developed and coordinated a monthly poetry reading series called Poetry U which continues to be very successful. The folks at Universal Institute liked what I was doing in Montclair so much that in January of this year, they offered me the opportunity to manage Gallery U in Red Bank. This location was opened in 2011, but there was not one person dedicated to working the Gallery exclusively. Instead, the main focus of the staff at Red Bank was dedicated to providing for Universal’s clients. With my work dedicated to bringing in new monthly exhibitions and collaborating with the community, Gallery U is quickly becoming a leader in the Red Bank community.

For those unfamiliar with Red Bank, NJ, it’s a true artist community with galleries and various food and retail spaces exhibiting original art. The people in this quaint community welcomed us with open arms by turning out in massive numbers for our March opening, “Awakenings” and for each event since. Everyone was, and continues to be, anxious to meet and support the new kids on the block. Mayor Pasquale Menna invited us to a one-on-one sit down to discuss some ideas to support the community and bring Red Bank back to the forefront of art in Central and Southern NJ.

Gallery U took the lead in developing a Red Bank Art Walk held on May 11, 2012. Everyone in the community was excited to see this event come back to their town after over three years. Twenty-three venues that exhibit original art, from traditional galleries to restaurants and cafes to places of worship, signed on to host the community on the evening of the Art Walk. And the community turned out on a beautiful spring night to walk the streets of Red Bank, view the fantastic art on display and support their neighborhood. Another Red Bank Art Walk is being planned for the end of this summer.

In addition to holding monthly art shows, Red Bank’s Gallery U is quickly positioning themselves as a community resource by aligning themselves with and using their space to benefit community organizations. In the past few months we have held a fundraiser for The Mental Health Association of Monmouth County with proceeds of all art sold donated to the Association, and hosted a wine-tasting fundraiser for a local Relay for Life team. Upcoming events include “Student Life” on June 8, 2012, a special exhibition of local high school student art with proceeds donated to the high school art department that each student represents; a special fundraiser of children’s art called “The Kidz Are Alright” on August 5, 2012, with all art proceeds donated to Stomp the Monster, an organization dedicated to helping those afflicted with cancer; and a special exhibition on September 6, 2012, of artwork by members of Shore House, an organization dedicated to working with people with mental disabilities.

Red Bank’s Gallery U is also looking to make their spacious gallery a place to hang-out for a few hours and enjoy art in its many forms. Poetry U, a monthly spoken word series with 5-6 featured poets per event, will begin on July 20, 2012 in Red Bank, and music nights with a few featured bands will begin shortly.

Gallery U offers a wonderful opportunity for both emerging and established artists to exhibit their work, for poets to share their craft, and for musicians for perform before a live audience. If you are interested in being a part of our venture by including your art in one of our group shows or by being a featured reader at a Poetry U event, please send a sample to Gallery U Manager and Curator, Robert Langdon at or call (732) 747-6696. If you are not artistically inclined, but see the true value in the arts, please join Gallery U by attending our various events or by just stopping in to say hello and explore what we have to offer Red Bank and the community at large.

Gallery U is located at 80 Broad Street in Red Bank, NJ.

Join our Facebook page to keep updated on upcoming events at our Red Bank location:!/groups/251637761584426/

Find out what is going on at all Gallery U locations:

Here are some photos (compliment of the gallery) of Robert & his staff, as well as shots of the gallery and “Awakenings” opening & poetry readings…

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