Arts & Entertainment

South Mountain Reservation Gets Three New Art Installations

Maplewood's Eric Beckerich with Joe DeVincenzo Credits: David Lackey

MILLBURN, NJ - Three new outdoor sculptures were unveiled in the Wildflower Sculpture Park in the South Mountain Reservation on Wednesday.

Maplewood artist Eric Beckerich added his newest piece to the garden, a column of stacked mortar cubes more than seven feet tall. The abstract cubes contain sticks and glass and air and are different from every angle.  Beckerich works as a building inspector and incorporates building materials into his art.

“You see things if you keep your eyes open,” Beckerich said. “You find inspiration.” He describes his style as abstract expressionism, made in a stream of consciousness method. His work may be seen at the 1978 Arts Center in Maplewood, the Ironworks and Gaelen Galleries in West Orange and the Maplewood Library.

Maplewood artist Eric Beckerich and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo  
Credit: David Lackey

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Roger Sayre of Jersey City and Charlotte Becket of New York collaborated on a piece, which they designed specifically for the spot in the Reservation. It is called, “Don’t Sing to me Anymore, Cicada,” and features a series of hammocks strung between two trees and rising to the sky. The hammocks get progressively larger as they rise, so the effect plays with your sense of perspective. The two artists, both teachers at Pace University, have collaborated only once before, and this project came about from brainstorming they had done on their first effort in Jersey City, 

“We wanted to do something large-scale, since it was being displayed outdoors,” said Sayre. “That is how we came on the idea of incorporating the trees as part of the piece.”

Artists Roger Sayre and Charlotte Becket  Credit: David Lackey

“We are happy that it ended up spanning over the fence,” Becket added. “It plays into the theme of crossing thresholds.” The pair also credits Tim Garrigan of the Essex County Parks Department with doing the fabrication up in the trees and making their vision a reality.

"Don't Sing to me Anymore, Cicada" by Roger Sayre and Charlotte Becket  
Credit: David Lackey

Jersey City artist Michelle Vitale Loughlin created the piece “Tornado II” for the Reservation. It is a knitted array of nylon rope resembling a tornado in motion. It has been collecting some leaves and debris, which show curator South Mountain Conservancy’s Tricia Zimic finds to be completely appropriate.

"Tornado II" by Michelle Vitale Loughlin  Credit: David Lackey 

The piece is 24 feet tall and 18 feet wide, made of red rope and is best viewed from multiple angles to get the perspective and feel of motion of the storm.

"Tornado II" by Michelle Vitale Loughlin  Credit: David Lackey 

Zimic and Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. also announced that another piece which was installed six months ago, “Nature’s Resolve,” by Larry Dell, was being made a permanent installation. Dell was on hand and said he was honored. His piece is constructed of branches and twigs knocked down in the reservation by the October 2011 snowstorm.

"Nature's Resolve" by Larry Dell  Credit: David Lackey

“I am not sure whether I should let it age gracefully or come periodically and touch it up,” Dell said. Being made of twigs, it is subject to the elements and has changed form over time. “Would that be allowed?” he asked.

“You can do whatever you want to do,” said DiVincenzo. “Tricia (Zimic) deserves all the credit for making this happen. Essex Count has the best parks in the country, and this sculpture garden is a wonderful addition to the Reservation”

Artist Larry Dell with Tricia Zimic and Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr.  Credit: David Lackey

Dan Salvante, Director of the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs and Essex County Freeholder Leonard Luciano were also on hand.   

“I am grateful that art has created a way to bring more people into the park. I look forward to more additions,” Luciano said.

The Wildflower Sculpture Park in Essex County’s South Mountain Reservation is accessible off of South Orange Avenue.  Continue driving from the main entrance to the parking area near the dog park. Note also that the gated areas of the Wildflower Sculpture Park are open to the public and provide 14 acres of protected gardens and paths for visitors’ enjoyment.

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