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Cultural collaboration explores nature’s beauty in the Bronx

Wave Hill, Lehman College Art Gallery and the Bronx River Art Center collaborate this autumn to present Surprisingly Natural: the Nature of the Bronx, a photography exhibition that explores nature as an essential element in the fabric of the Bronx. In the face of recent, rapid urban development throughout New York City, these photographs locate the open and green spaces that have long anchored the landscape of the Bronx.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, the Bronx became synonymous with urban decay and pollution. In fact, however, almost 25% of the borough is park land — a remarkably high percentage for any county in the United States. Surprisingly Natural demonstrates the wide range of the borough’s natural areas and the approaches to photographing these big and small spaces that are tended by its residents, including community and school gardens, playgrounds, window boxes and tree pits. Photographers also document the forests, wetlands and beach habitats of Van Cortlandt Park and Pelham Bay Park, where nature grows wild and unchecked. Nature’s tenacity is also depicted in images of unexpected green spaces – empty lots, community gardens and abandoned lots – where natural life thrives despite the challenge of urban conditions.

The exhibition will be on view concurrently in three vibrant neighborhoods with inspiring natural spaces: Wave Hill’s Glyndor Gallery in Riverdale, Lehman College Art Gallery in the Northwest Bronx and the Bronx River Art Center in West Farms.

An exhibition catalogue is being produced, introduced by naturalist and author Leslie Day and including essays by curators Jennifer McGregor, Susan Hoeltzel and Jose Ruiz.

Surprisingly Natural:

The Nature Of The Bronx

Wave Hill, September 9 to November 30, with artists Lawrence Beck, Steven Day, N.W. Gibbons, David Gillison and Bob Schneider, Todd Martin, Leah Oates, Christine Osinski, Patrick Perry, Eric Slayton, Ron Terner

Lehman College Art Gallery, September 9 to December 15, with artists Daniel Hauben, Lawrence Lederman, Margaret Moulton, Travis Roozée, Robert Stephenson, Rebecca Swanson

Bronx River Art Center, September 12 to October 18, with artists Jason Falchook, Bettina Johae, Holly Lynton, Laura Napier, Katherine Radke, Yumi Janairo Roth, Luke Stettner & Mac Carbonell, Benjamin Swett

Exhibition Receptions

• Friday, September 12, 6 to 9 p.m., Bronx River Art Center

• Sunday September 14, 1 to 4 p.m., Wave Hill

• Wednesday, September 17, 4 to 6 p.m. and October 7, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Lehman College Art Gallery

Art and Nature Tour:

The Nature of the Bronx

Trolley Tour 

Saturday, October 18

11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Participate in a day of art and nature as the Bronx Culture Trolley transports passengers from Wave Hill to Lehman College Art Gallery and the Bronx River Art Center, to meet artists and curators. Stop at Van Cortlandt Park, where naturalist and author Leslie Day highlights the diversity of the borough’s natural landscape. Bring lunch or purchase a box-lunch. Limited registration. $25 member; $35 non-member. Registration required; call (718) 549-3200, ext. 305. Meet at Wave Hill’s Glyndor Gallery. Exhibition tours at Wave Hill, Thursdays at non and Saturdays at 2: 15 p.m.

Exhibition-related Public Programs

Friday, September 12, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.,  Art Workshop: Nature Photography Series–Session 1: Experience Wave Hill’s brilliant autumn landscape through your camera lens. Photographer Benjamin Swett teaches creative techniques through outdoor shooting assignments. Series continues September 19 and 26 and October 17, 24 and 31. Six-session fee: $105 member; $135 non-member. Single session fee: $20 member; $30 non-member. Registration required; call (718) 549-3200, ext. 305. Meets at Wave Hill House.

Saturday, Sunday, October 4 and 5,  3:30 p.m. Photographer Talks: Photographers exhibiting in Surprisingly Natural talk about their approaches to photographing the nature of the borough. Meets at Wave Hill’s Glyndor Gallery.

Thursday, October 16, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.  Artists from the exhibition will talk about their work as part of the City and the Humanities Series. Free of charge. Meets at Lehman College Art Gallery.

Wave Hill is located at 675 W. 252nd Street. Call (718) 549-3200 for further information.

Bronx River Art Center is located at 1087 East Tremont Avenue. Call (718) 589-5819   for more information.

Lehman College Art Gallery is located at Bedford Park Boulevard West. For further information call (718) 960-8731.

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