“Rahway’s Own” Celebrates Local Source of Innovation and Genius

RAHWAY — The city has been getting a lot of press lately as a center for arts innovation and collaboration.

According to an exhibit opening July 15 at the Rahway Arts District Gallery, the city has been home to creative visionaries for a few hundred years.

“Rahway’s Own” features photographs, artifacts and artwork relating to notable innovators with Rahway connections — astronomer Carl Sagan, Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, inventor Nikola Tesla, contemporary artist Richard Tuttle, novelist Carolyn Wells, chemist and corporate leader P. Roy Vagelos and others.

Also on display are pictures and objects connected to places important to Rahway’s vibrant economic and social history, including some artifacts that have not been publicly viewed in over 20 years.

“Rahway’s Own” runs from July 15-Sept. 20, 2013 at the Rahway Arts District Gallery, 1591 Irving Street, Rahway. The exhibit is admission-free and open to the public.

A free public reception and book signing is set for Thursday, Aug. 1, from 6-9 p.m. Alex Shipley, local author and director of the Merchants & Drovers Tavern Museum, will sign copies of his Rahway historical study, The Case of the Unknown Woman.

“Rahway is a small city with an incredibly rich and varied history from Revolutionary War times to the present,” says Rachael Faillace, exhibit curator and Executive Director of Rahway Arts District, Inc. While researching local art history, Faillace says she couldn’t help but notice the impressive list of innovators associated with the town.

“World-class thinkers like Milton Friedman, Carl Sagan, Nikola Tesla and Richard Tuttle grew up or received their early professional training here in Rahway,” she says. “The ‘Rahway’s Own’ exhibit looks at connections among these innovators and at some of the objects and events that inspired them during their time in Rahway.”

A focal point of the exhibit is a hand-drawn and painted illustration of downtown Rahway by local artist Daniel Brophy incorporating historical elements, buildings, people and anecdotal imagery. The artwork will be revealed for the first time during the exhibit.

Also on view are a unique three-dimensional artist book by Richard Tuttle (courtesy of the artist and Brodsky Center, Rutgers University), items from the Rahway Public Library special collection of author Carolyn Wells’ books, a rare early American coin minted in Rahway and an original gouache painting of Wheatenaville, Rahway from the early 1900s.

Happening the same night as the Aug. 1 “Rahway’s Own” public reception are two other events:

  • The Mayor’s Summer Concert at the corner of West Main Street and Central Avenue (behind Union County Performing Arts Center). Two live bands, Gary U.S. Bonds and Roadhouse Rockers, take the stage at 7 p.m. The concert is free to the public. (Rain date: Aug. 8)
  • A special Back Lot BBQ from 6-9 p.m. in the parking lot behind 1591 Irving Street. The BBQ is a picnic-style community event featuring a hot buffet for $20 per person (cash only). Tickets are limited and are available advance-only at UCPAC box office, 1601 Irving Street, from July 23-26 and July 30-31. (Rain date: Aug. 8)

For more information on Rahway Arts events, visit ArtsRahway.com or call (732) 540-1075.

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