ArtBender Returns to South Orange on Sunday May 19


Every year for ArtBender, neighbors come together to create unique projects for Seton Village. We turn forgotten spaces into destinations and upcycle discarded old objects into unique features of wonder. 

0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

From Danni Michaeli, founder of ArtBender, in partnership with NPP Seton Village:

On Sunday May 19 from 11 AM to 3 pm, Seton Village will again host ArtBender, a celebratory day of self-expression happening on the front lawn of the Community Center at 133 Fairview Avenue, South Orange. ArtBender endeavors to identify overlooked spaces and make use of simple discarded objects. In past years ArtBender involved painting murals, planting gardens and installing public artworks. This year we will continue the multi-year project transforming Carter Park into a creative playspace as well as developing a new reading corner at 133 Fairview Ave. We are also recognizing the bicycle this year, and bikes will play an integral role in the projects that we will create.  

Join by bringing your creativity and community spirit!

“The New Woman Again in Trouble!”

This was a news headline from the late 19th century decrying how cycling posed a threat to women of the era and by extension, the family and the total fabric of society itself. Bicycles were so feared by the patriarchy of the 1890’s that doctors were warning how cycling could lead women to develop depression, tuberculosis, infertility, bicycle foot, bicycle hand and even the dreaded “bicycle face”! 


By the late 1880’s, bicycle design had improved significantly and men were having fun with the latest craze, a new toy to play with and show off. But for women, bicycles were a lifeline. They provided the freedom to travel into town on their own without having to wait for their husbands to drive them in the horse-drawn carriage. And because women were now riding, their outfits became more user-friendly and less cumbersome and ridiculous. Women even started wearing pants! 

Because of bicycles, women became more visible in every way. 

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” -Susan B. Anthony

Fast forward 150 years and we all now know the freedom and importance of cycling, regardless of gender. Although we will not be biking together, bicycles are going to play a big role in ArtBender.

Every year for ArtBender, neighbors come together to create unique projects for Seton Village. We turn forgotten spaces into destinations and upcycle discarded old objects into unique features of wonder. 

Last year, we began a multiyear project in Carter Park (College Place, South Orange). We will continue that project this year, as well as develop a new reading corner on the front lawn of the Vincent Monella Community Center at 133 Fairview Avenue.

To make all these wonderful projects happen we need your help in a couple of simple ways.

Are you able to donate your old bicycle tire rims, especially the rusted, bent and broken ones of any dimension? Even those old training wheels might be interesting, or maybe the rims of a junked wheelbarrow. Also, do you have old children’s paper page picture books, comics or magazines lying around? You know, the ones that are precious but too wrecked to keep and too cool to throw away? Bring them. Especially if they’re missing pages! We’ve got plans to give them a new life.

Even if you do not have anything to bring, that’s no problem. Just bring yourself, along with a little bit of creativity and we’ll make some really magical things together. Help us paint, glue, cut and build. Remember: ArtBender isn’t just for kids.  ArtBender is for all ages, our different projects need different types of brains and hands of all shapes, sizes and colors.

I recently did the five boro bike tour for the first time. Although the weather was very cold and wet, it was still so much fun. While riding, a friend pointed out that walking is too slow to really take in the grandeur of the city, driving is too confined and cumbersome, but biking is perfect, whizzing around in total freedom. In this age of global warming, remembering the value of cycling is more timely than it’s ever been. 

I truly believe that is what is so wonderful about art; it gives a fresh new perspective, reminding us about hidden opportunities and getting us thinking about new possibilities. 

ArtBender is a project of the South Orange Dept of Recreation and the Seton Village Neighborhood Preservation Program, and is grateful for the contributions of Oh! Canary and CINC, Creative in Common. Also, a shout out to the Maplewood Bike Shed for getting us started with bicycle rims!

To learn more about ArtBender, please visit here

If you would you like to get more involved with ArtBender please contact 


Related Articles