Catch It Before It Closes

Larchmont Attorney Claire Meadow and her husband Mike have been friends of ArtsWestchester for many years.  They come to our events.  They volunteer at our gala.  They are generous to our organization. Recently, Claire wrote to me raving about our “Fish Tales” exhibit and I talked her into letting me post her words as my guest blogger for this week.  Be ready!  She’s passionate about the environment.

For years Pete Seeger and others have been singing, telling tales, writing poetry and creating art to lament man’s failure to respect our waters and the fish and aquatic life within them. The message furthered by the ArtsWestchester Fish Tales exhibition encourages the cleanup of the Hudson and the Long Island Sound so as to sustain fish life and bring back the balance of nature lost by human carelessness and disregard. How wonderful it was to visit Fish Tales, an extraordinary conglomeration of art, videos and crafts right in the rotunda and second floor of our own, easily accessible ArtsWestchester building in White Plains.

Directly in the center of the first floor, the visitor is confronted with, what at first appears to be a beautiful tree created from lovely copper wires and other flowing materials. Shocking to realize, as one gets closer, that this “tree” was created from the debris and garbage cast away by industrial activities which found their way to the bottom of the Hudson River. Imagine building this huge tree from discarded electrical wires, entangled with, among other things, a piece of steel from the World Trade Center disaster, a pot belly stove and all sorts of non-biodegradable debris. With tongue in cheek, the sculptor Wilfredo Morel calls this “The Hudson River Tree of Harmony.”

Running along an entire right wall as you enter the exhibition is the incredible  three dimensional mural done by the very talented artist Tova Snyder using among other things skeleton mermaids surrounded by mirrors, poetry, and fish netting boxes — all conveying the message of the urgent need to respect and preserve the ecological balance of nature.

Each painting and sculpture must be looked at and savored since the works are beautiful and each has a message to take away. It was delightful to see among all this, on the first floor, a long table with youngsters learning hands-on creative crafts under the very capable guidance of artist Haifa Bint-Kadi. My chat with her before the crafts session was a highlight for me. Haifa is a Muslim with roots on the Jordanian or east side of the Jordan River and I am a Jew who has been to Israel every year for the last 25 years, mainly on the west side of the Jordan. We shared from our different vantage points the bond of knowing the grave water problems in that area of the Middle East, the preciousness of water to sustain us all and the work being done cooperatively to preserve and protect this resource.

The exhibition, which closes on August 11, is a “MUST SEE.” It is free of charge unless you are moved, as I was, to leave a donation. My one suggestion is that Westchester and Rockland Day camps should be invited to schedule this wonderful learning experience. I understand the final children’s crafts workshop will be on August 11.  Having met curator La Benida Hui, and having felt her warmth and excitement for a job very, very well done, I’m sure she would be delighted to guide groups through the exhibition.

Photo: “The Hudson River Tree of Harmony” by Wilfredo Morel

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