New art installations unveiled at Wildflower Sculpture Park

Photo Courtesy of Glen Frieson
Artist Greg Leshe, of South Orange, left, and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. stand in front of Leshe’s art piece, ‘Wind-Pile,’ which was unveiled in the Wildflower Sculpture Park in South Mountain Reservation on Tuesday, May 29.

MAPLEWOOD / MILLBURN, NJ — On Tuesday, May 29, Essex County and the South Mountain Conservancy unveiled four new outdoor sculptures in the Wildflower Sculpture Park in South Mountain Reservation. Inaugurated in 2012, the Wildflower Sculpture Park is a collaborative initiative by the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the South Mountain Conservancy to introduce art into the landscape of the reservation.

“Essex County South Mountain Reservation is a beautiful destination with spectacular skyline views, stunning vistas and gorgeous natural backdrops. The inspirational and thought-provoking nature of the artwork, combined with the environment and natural setting, will offer breathtaking and dramatic scenes for park visitors to enjoy,” Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said. “We are pleased to be partnering with the South Mountain Conservancy to raise awareness about our reservation and to expand the art park. The art installations on display here will provide visitors with a new reason to enjoy our open space resources and help unite the disciplines of art and nature.”

An open call for artists to submit ideas was conducted and four artists were selected.

Lisa Sanders, from Newark, created two cast bronze sculptures that represent trees, insects and human skeletons. Their placement in the reservation will lead viewers to contrast the sculptures with the trees and plants. This will lead to the viewer appreciating the natural setting. Sanders’ artwork has been on display in the Gateway Projects First Floor Gallery and Aljira Gallery in Newark, Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, as well as in galleries in New York and elsewhere in New Jersey. She recently received a fellowship in sculpture from the N.J. State Council on the Arts, a sculpture in residence at the New York Studio School and a fellowship residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

Alissa Negila grew up in West Caldwell and resides in Jersey City. She created “Reverberation,” which is designed with concentric circles to mimic ripples in water when a raindrop hits the surface. When the sun hits “Reverberation,” it will cast lacy shadows that will show the effect of the shifting sun. The public is invited to sit on the sculpture and take in the serenity of the wooded setting. Negila has been creating sculpture for public and private spaces for more than 28 years. Her work has been shown at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Long Island University and Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Navy Pier in Chicago, the Berkshire Botanical Garden and The Meguro Museum in Japan.

Asha Ganpat, from Montclair, created “Soothsayer,” which is a series of 30 to 40 wind chimes hanging from a tree. The wind chimes transform the tree into a special place where visitors can contemplate the cycles of life. Perhaps a visitor will look for a sign and receive an answer through the sound of the chimes. Ganpat has had her work on display in Newark, Montclair, Chester, New York, Jersey City and other places. She has been an artist in residence at Rutgers University, the New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts in Summit and City Without Walls in Newark.

Greg Leshe, from South Orange, created “Wind-Pile.” This installation consists of 20 orange windsocks placed on a mound of fertile dirt that is roughly 10 feet tall by 20 feet wide. “Wind-Pile” explores the evolving concern about natural and cultural systems, and raises consciousness about air, wind and atmosphere. Solo exhibitions by Leshe include “Personal Gravity” at the Jersey City Museum and “Personal Radar” at Exhibit A Gallery in New York. His honors include “Distinguished Artist” and “Highest Merit” awards from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for photography and an Individual Artist Fellowship Award in Interdisciplinary Performance. Leshe was an artist in residence at the Newark Museum’s Arts Workshop Program and was featured in a group exhibition titled “20 Years In” at the International Center of Photography.