Day 229

View from the Main Street Bridge

When Toni and I sat down to a very late lunch on the banks of the Raritan River (south branch) this week, our big walk was still ahead of us.  We finished our pretty mediocre wraps, tossed the trash, and agreed to take a very quick look in the lobby of the Hunterdon Art Museum before putting on our walking shoes.

The sign said the galleries were closed. But the door was open.

Being one who rarely passes up the opportunity to peek around a curtain, peer through a window, or go through a doorway that’s otherwise blocked to me, I went in. Toni, a lifelong journalist, naturally did the same. But this isn’t a story about journalistic ethics, guys. This is a story about serendipity.

Inside we found what was clearly the tail end of a new installation: large exotic fabric flowers wrapped in protective plastics, colorful prints in boxed frames, glazed ceramic botanic sculptures laid out on colorful packing blankets.

We poked around, called a few robust “hellooo, anyone there?”s, and agreed it was time to leave.

Peony 'tooth fairy', Hirschman

Outside we passed a woman in a lovely botanic sweater. She smiled, we smiled, and soon we found ourselves engaged in a lively conversation with Mary Birmingham, exhibit curator.  She was clearly exhausted but exhilarated about the “Botanica” show opening this weekend.

“I live about an hour from here,” Mary said, explaining why she, too, was just having lunch at 4 in the afternoon. “I live in Montclair.”

WELL friends, Toni and I live in Montclair, too.

One thing led to another and we found ourselves back inside the museum for an impromptu, curator-led walk through the show, opening this Sunday, featuring 30 varied artists working in varied media but all inspired by botanical elements and exploring the relationship of contemporary artists with the plant world

"August" Garden-in July (c) Stillman

We were introduced to porcelain works by Lindsay Feuer, dramatic felt pieces by Linda Brooks Hirschman, and photographs by Linda Stillman, an artist who’s working on a series of daily paintings of the sky, and another that features found objects from her walks through New York City. Stillman’s time-elapsed garden photographs are one of many gorgeous works that will be featured in the Botanica exhibit.

Best of all, Mary reminded me once again that serendipity — the chance meeting, occurrence, or development of events  in a happy or beneficial way — shows itself when we’re open to it. And that being out in the world is a wonderful way to meet interesting, creative people who’ll share their energy and their discoveries with you.

p.s.  Toni and I had a fantastic walk along old  rail trail in Clinton.   The trail was lush, peaceful, and beautiful but we’d never have found it hidden behind the lumberyard, nor would we have followed it under the 6-lane highway overhead, if it Mary hadn’t told us where to go.

Found / Urban Entanglements

Miscellanea Botanica II

Miscellanea Botanica I