Thursday, December 1, 2011

Urban nature, Essential Life at the State Museum

Bears in the Meadowlands? Bobcats stalking pigeons atop a Newark office building? These days, anything seems possible, with a surprising number of species making appearances in the unlikeliest of places. Those examples, though, seem a bit extreme... for today, at least. It seems, though, that I'm not the only one considering the possibility.

Tricia Zimic painting
Pier Pressure
On my visit to check out the Civil War flags in Trenton, I stopped by the State Museum and found a kindred spirit in the artist currently represented in the New Jersey Artists Series. Tricia Zimic's "Essential Life" exhibit encourages the viewer to consider how the state's original animal inhabitants might adapt to our developed areas. Hence, we see bobcats wandering urban streets and piping plover chicks nested among flotsam and jetsam in a Secaucus marsh. On one hand, it demonstrates a remarkable adaptability of nature to adjust to the stresses mankind has placed on it. On the other, it's a call for each of us to do what we can to preserve habitat, wherever it's needed.
Tricia Zimic painting
Fast Food

I was first drawn into the exhibit by the seeming dissonance of animal against human landscape -- an owl nestled in an I-beam? As I delved farther, though, the sculptures and paintings became none-too-subtle messengers of a simple fact so many people forget: these animals were here before us, and it's our responsibility to ensure they have safe, clean, natural places to live. Most nature art supports that message, but Tricia's work leads you to think beyond the typical forest and water settings to our own backyards, literally and figuratively.

Especially in Northern New Jersey, our open spaces are at a premium and whatever we can do to preserve them will have a positive impact for animals, plants and humans alike. In addition to her art, Tricia's working on the reforestation of Essex County's South Mountain Reservation, with more than 40 sites currently in the program. Ivan, as I've mentioned earlier, is working to improve the health of the Hackensack Watershed through Hackensack Riverkeeper. Through these and other organizations around the state, all of us can participate in one-time or extended volunteer efforts to clean up, preserve and restore our environment.

Tricia's work will be shown at the State Museum until February 19. She very graciously granted permission for us to share a few of her works on Hidden New Jersey, and you can check out more of her work and philosophy on her website.


  1. Thank you for sharing your discovery of Tricia's amazing artwork with us Hidden NJ fans. It looks like a beautiful and thought-provoking show. I'll make a point to go see it.

  2. Thanks very much for your comment, and I'm glad to hear you'll be making the trip to check out Tricia's work.


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