Fine Art: Delaware Dreams

“Sturgeon” by Kate Graves 

Food for thought about the Delaware River that runs in, around and through so many of our lives here in this part of New Jersey: “The ocean begins here.”

Those four intriguing words mentioned in materials for the current exhibition “Delaware Dreams” at D&R Greenway Land Trust, put the whole of our geographic position in a context interesting to explore.   As mentioned in those same materials, “The Delaware is the longest dammed river in the United States east of the Mississippi, extending 330 miles from the confluence of its East and West branches at Hancock, NY to the mouth of the Delaware Bay where it meets the Atlantic.”

This exhibition explores the tidal waters of the river, the bridges that span its shores where wildflowers and grasses proliferate, the paths to nearby populated areas and the people who live in them.

Noting that “the Delaware River is home to a genetically distinct population of Atlantic sturgeon, one now seriously compromised by the 19th century caviar harvesting an pollution from heavy industry along the river,” sculptor and painter Kate Graves is displaying her “EPS 9′ Sturgeon Pattern” made of foam, acrylic, wax and oyster shells. Also displayed nearby are “Rubber Mold & Wax Castings of Sturgeon and Scute” while at the opening of the exhibit you’ll find her iron “42-inch Sturgeon” displayed on a steel base that brings to mind the bridge structures under which Kate Graves paddles her kayak letting her mind wander among the wonders that lie beneath.

Bob Barish’s giclee print of his painting, “Morning Fog,” captures the steel structure of a bridge disappearing in the distance into the mist and fog rising from the river as a lone sculler plies his way through the silent hovering vapors. Using watercolors and a fun title, “Betsy, Ben and Walt,” Erica Harney presents three paintings of bridges spanning the Betsy Ross, the Ben Franklin and the Walt Whitman bridges. And in a semi-abstract portrayal, she offers a view through a steel bridge structure across a red river to a distant shore in her oil and acrylic on muslin, “The Mountain That I Climbed to Lose You/Girard Point Bridge.”

In the People of the Delaware section of the exhibit, Sara Anne Abo-Harb is displaying her watercolor painting, “Three Violinists” in which three girls are seen standing behind their music stands. Two are intent on making their music while the girl in the middle looks out upon the viewer. Nearby is Bob Barish’s “Lambertville, Night Coffee,” a view from outside in the night looking in upon a man seated amid the golden glow of a cafe’s interior supposedly hovering over his coffee.

Also in the People of the Delaware section is Sara Anne Abo-Harb’s watercolor “Self Portrait by the Creek.” In this expertly rendered work, we come upon the back of a young woman seated on the edge of a grey stone ledge looking down upon her legs extended into the dark-land and blue-sky reflections in the water. She wears a grey and black bathing suit that is rendered so well one exhibit visitor commented she could see “the being beneath the fabric.” It is that quality that is present in all the works well curated by Diana Moore.

One entire gallery at D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center is filled with “Flora of the Delaware,” twenty of Frank Sauer’s close-up photographs of flowers and grasses of this region. As exhibit materials point out, the images have a “painterly, impressionistic feel–they are about color, shape and gesture, not about sharp detail.” There is a spontaneous quality about Sauer’s archival pigment prints. In “Japanese Stiltgrass,” for example, it’s almost as if you can hear the gentle swish of the stems and leaves as they appear to be moving gracefully in a gentle breeze. A White Dogwood blossom raises one petal as if in welcome as you enter the room while nearby a blue “Dayflower” and a “daddy longlegs” spider look like they’re having a friendly conversation.   Botanist Mary Leck assisted in identifying the plants in the exhibition.

The show is displayed in galleries on the first and second floors of the Johnson Education Center. Be sure to make note of the photographs displayed along the stairwell connecting both floors of properties purchased protected by D&R Greenway Land Trust in the Delaware watershed.

“The Delaware River watershed provides drinking water to 5% of the US population!” says President and CEO Linda J. Mead. “Delaware Dreams celebrates the beauty and the life-giving qualities of this river that runs through our lives.”

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Delaware Dreams: Return to the River Art

WHERE: D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place, Princeton

WHEN: Through November 9. Hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday

                        Call to be sure of gallery availability at time of prospective visit.

CONTACT: 609-924-5577. www.drgreenway.org

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