NEW JERSEY NATIVE: As a member of the artist’s group Art+10, local photographer Tasha O’Neill was among a number of artists asked to focus their attention on the native species of the Garden State for a stunning show at the D&R Greenway, opening this Friday, November 14. In addition to her photograph “Wild Columbine,” shown here, Ms. O’Neill captured the beauty of state treasures such as Trout Lily, Royal Fern, Beach Plum, and the tiny orchid with the big name, “Dragon’s Mouth.” (Image courtesy of Ms. O’Neill)
If you haven’t been to the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s galleries of late, a new exhibition opening this Friday, November 14, is sure to entice old friends and new visitors to the Johnson Education Center’s lovingly restored barn, circa 1900, off Rosedale Road.
Titled, “Botanicals Illuminated,” the exhibition is designed to show just what there is in New Jersey that is worth the work of preserving. The works on display have all been inspired by native species that can be found on lands preserved by the D&R Greenway.
The exhibition opens this Friday, November 14, with a reception for the artists from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. To register for the free reception email email@example.com. It takes place during the D&R Greenway’s 25th Anniversary Year, which has seen continued preservation and protection of natural lands, farmlands, and open spaces throughout central and southern New Jersey, including most recently, preservation of the former Norma Pratico property in Trenton for use as an urban community farm. The site was acquired by the City of Trenton through a partnership organized by D&R Greenway.
The multi-media show features work by members of the Princeton area artists group Art+10, as well as work by award-winning botanical illustrators and sumptuous pieces by three regional artists selected for the show by curator Diana Moore, who has been curating shows at the Greenway for four years now. A fan of the Land Trust and its programs, she started out as a volunteer, but with two degrees in art, one in medieval art from Princeton University, she has found a niche in curating for the organization.
“I have always loved botanical illustrations of the past such as you see in early herbals,” said Ms. Moore. “The work by the artists in this exhibition is exceptionally fine and it is a treat to be able to present these images.”
Known for championing art as an effective means of highlighting the serious work of land preservation and stewardship, President and CEO Linda Mead and her staff have turned the Johnson Education Center into a focal point for conservation activity with inspiring programs, art exhibitions, and related lectures. “Botanicals Illuminated” is one in a long list of singular exhibitions that they have put on in service to their conservationist mission.
“As always, our exhibits are mounted to demonstrate the importance of preservation of New Jersey land and species,” said Ms. Mead. “I am delighted to share the results of a year-long process, which began with lists of native plants of New Jersey and the D&R Greenway preserves where they are most likely to be found.”
Along with botanist emeritus of Rider University Dr. Mary Leck, a D&R trustee, as well as staff members Emily Blackman and Diana Rachel, Ms. Moore asked the artists participating in the exhibition to select specific D&R Greenway sites and plants on which to focus.
“Diana is brilliant in bringing artists of the area together under one roof,” said participating fine art photographer Tasha O’Neill. “I admire her calm in the midst of a storm and the always gracious D&R staff have done a tremendous job in pulling together information about the subject and from the artists.”
In addition to the work of eight botanical illustrators: Chiara Becchi, Carrie Di Constanzo, Fran Henig, Ann Hoffenberg, Robin Jess, Lanis Monfried, Carol O’Neill, and Carol Woodin, the work of regional artists from the Art+ 10 group is being featured.
Collectively titled “Native Plants of New Jersey,” Art+ 10’s members (there are 11, incidentally) Priscilla Algava, Heather Barros, Jim Bongartz, Betty Curtiss, Katja De Ruyter, Suzanne Dinger, Jeaninne Honstein, Ryan Lilienthal, Meg Michael, the above mentioned Ms. O’Neill, and Gill Stewart offer a diverse and pleasing collection of creative and colorful photographs and paintings of plants from the familiar to the rarely celebrated.
Art+ 10 offers its members an artistic home and provides opportunities for solo and group shows. Being a member, “challenges my creativity,” said Ms. O’Neill, who expressed admiration not only for the Land Trust’s efforts but also for the use to which it puts its gallery space. “The Land Trust is the only gallery in Princeton where the themes of exhibitions consistently deal with nature. Buyers of the art support the mission to preserve New Jersey farmland.”
The theme of preservation was not a hard sell to members of Art+ 10. “We are grateful to D&R Greenway Land Trust for their deep commitment to stewarding and preserving nature and also for the many opportunities we have as artists to exhibit and share our work,” said member Priscilla Algava, who described the D&R galleries as “a magic space where community members come together to meet and appreciate the worlds of art and nature.”
The three regional artists selected by the curator are Karen McLean, Carol Sanzalone, and Madelaine Shellaby.
Each artist found their subject in plants across a broad spectrum of beauty and scientific interest. Thus you will find Columbine, Trout Lily, fern, and orchid. Even poison ivy has its place here.
All the art on display is for sale with a percentage going to support D&R Greenway’s preservation and stewardship mission. According to Ms. Moore, there is an attempt to be as inclusive as possible and have prices that range from $100 up into the thousands of dollars.
“Botanicals Illuminated” will be on display through January 9 in the Marie L. Matthews Galleries, Johnson Education Center, D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place, off Rosedale Road, Princeton. The gallery is open during business hours of business days.
For more information and to be sure Galleries are open on day of visit, call (609) 924-4646, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit: www.drgreenway.org.