NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - A true labor of love brought a final tribute this Friday to the late founder of NP Public Art, Marjan Nirou Saniee, in the fitting form of a permanent art installation on the exterior of the Recreation Center on Elkwood Avenue. The sculpture created by local artist, Bob Hill, is called “Coral (Marjan).” Saniee passed away in June of 2017 after a 17-year battle with cancer; she was survived by her husband, Iraj Saniee, and her two sons, who were all at the unveiling on Friday afternoon.
Theresa Turner and Arlene Reagan, who were there at the inception of NP Public Art, were thrilled to see a year-long effort be finally realized, “It was almost three years ago now that Marjan met with us at the Prestige Diner to ask us if we’d like to work with her to bring public art to New Providence,” said Turner. NP Public Art was created by Marjan Nirou Saniee to enrich the quality of life in the community by bringing outdoor sculptures to New Providence.
After Saniee’s funeral in 2017, Turner and Reagan, along with Marjan’s husband Iraj Saniee and Artist Bob Hill, met to discuss the tribute, “From our initial meeting with Iraj and Bob Hill to discuss the cost and design, to Bob’s first draft for the sculpture, to Mayor Morgan and the Borough Council’s approval of the permanent installation, there was an incredible feeling of camaraderie among all involved in bringing this idea to fruition, which is, in itself, a tribute to Marjan. I feel like her loving and graceful spirit was over this from the beginning,” said Turner.
Reagan thanked the committee, the Recreation Department, Bob Hill and the Department of Public Works (DPW) and added, “When we think of Marjan, the word lovely comes to mind. Marjan continues to teach us to appreciate all that is lovely in life and in art.”
Iraj Saniee donated all the costs for the sculpture and Bob Hill only charged for his materials; his sculpture was a labor of love as well. Hill spoke before the unveiling of his sculpture; “We had a certain goal in our minds of what we wanted to do. We wanted to express a piece that would reflect and convey her very positive and pleasant attitude. We wanted a good flow of an organic, living representation, and we wanted to have the feeling of a flow of life.”
Iraj Saniee thanked the dozens of attendees on behalf of his sons, “Our great appreciation and gratitude for this beautiful way of remembering my wife and recognizing her contribution to what she considered a modest contribution to the town. Thank you Bob, for so generously making this memorial and for doing it at cost. This is a great honor and a rare tribute.”
Mayor Al Morgan remembered a great friend, “Anyone who knew Marjan knew what a gentle, loving soul she was. She was one of those rare people that nobody had a bad word to say about. And all she wanted to do was give back; she wanted to make a contribution, make that difference, and she did that in NP. She saw beauty in everyone and everything and she tried to beautify this town, which she has done.”
The DPW also added beautiful landscaping and lighting to the grounds in front of the sculpture.