Here are some upcoming shows/art exhibits at the Hoboken Museum for early 2013….
Hoboken Museum Reopens Sunday, Jan 27, with New Main Gallery Exhibit,
Mapping the Territory: Hudson County in Maps, 1840 – 2013
Upper Gallery Also Reopens with Meadowlands,
A Wetlands Survival Story: Paintings by Thomas Yezerski
Most of us use maps to learn how to get to where we need to go, but maps can also tell us a lot about where we have been and how we arrived at our destination. Maps can convey as much about a region as any unearthed artifact. For instance, an 1860 map of Hoboken shows boardwalks crisscrossing the undeveloped “meadows” in the western half of the city, where roads still called by their traditional names, Paterson Plank and Hackensack Plank, now run.
Maps are a form of universal communication, providing information not just about where people lived, but how they lived. In an exhibit titled Mapping the Territory: Hudson County in Maps, 1840 – 2013, the Hoboken Historical Museum uses maps to examine the development of the County from a group of small, agricultural townships to one of the most densely populated, as well as industrialized, counties in the state. The exhibit opens Sunday, Jan. 27, with a free public reception from 2 – 5 p.m.
The exhibit features maps of all varieties: topographical, infrastructure, transportation, sea-level and birds-eye views, from both the Museum’s own collections and borrowed from local libraries and historical organizations, including the Hudson County Archives in the Jersey City Public Library, along with digital versions. These maps show how the region evolved geographically from forests, marshes and towering granite cliffs populated by Native Americans; to farms, settlements and villages built and inhabited by the Dutch, followed by the British and the newly independent Americans; and ultimately into the diverse, vibrant communities we live in today.
At the time of Hudson County’s incorporation in 1840, it was primarily a sleepy agricultural area, thickly forested, with only a few settlements scattered around. The population totaled just over 9,000. In addition to farming, residents made their living from the bounty of the rivers and, in the case of enterprising Col. John Stevens, from developing his estate in Hoboken as a popular resort for New Yorkers, where clubs competed in cricket, boating and the loosely organized game of base ball, among other pursuits. Col. Stevens and his sons hastened the increasing industrialization of the area with their experiments and investments in railroads and steam-powered ferry services.
Following the Civil War, the County experienced a growth spurt. Each decade’s census from 1840 – 1870 would show that its population had more than doubled. Its original boundaries encompassed 46 square miles, which would grow by 75% before reaching present-day definitions in 1925. Its original borders stretched from the Hudson River on the east to the Passaic River on the west, down to the southern end of Constable Hook/Bergen Point to the northern border with Bergen County. Along the way, towns and cities within its borders would merge and separate as citizens voted to incorporate or join other jurisdictions.
Each of the 12 municipalities will be represented by maps in the exhibit, along with a brief background on the communities. A new computerized whiteboard will allow visitors to interact with digital versions of the maps on display, as well as view other maps and sketches too numerous to physically exhibit. Representatives from each of the municipalities will be invited to give talks about what makes their communities special, from the architecture, food, and cultural activities, to historic points of interest.
The schedule of talks will be announced by email and on the Museum website. The exhibit, which runs through Sunday, June 30, is made possible through funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission, Applied Companies, and John Wiley & Sons.
“Dragonfly,” a watercolor and ink painting for the book “Meadowlands, A Wetlands Survival Story,”
(2011, Farrar Straus Giroux) by author and artist Thomas Yezerski.
Meadowlands: Thomas Yezerski
For Tom Yezerski, all roads seemed to lead to the Meadowlands. Literally.
As a recent transplant to New Jersey from Allentown, Pa., Yezerski moved to Rutherford 14 years ago seeking a reasonably affordable community close enough to New York City for him to pursue his dream of becoming an established children’s book artist and author. As so many newcomers discover, the dizzying array of the area’s highway signage conspired to lead him astray, and more often than not, he found himself driving into this vast wilderness with the reputation as the source of what made New Jersey the butt of many jokes in Pennsylvania.
A nature-lover, Yezerski found his curiosity piqued, so he did some research into the history of the Meadowlands and visited the nature center at the heart of it, and soon hatched a project that became his fourth work as a writer and artist of children’s books, Meadowlands, A Wetlands Survival Story, published in 2011 by Farrar Straus Giroux. The Museum is pleased to present an exhibit of the original watercolor and ink paintings that comprise the book, with an opening reception on Sunday, Jan. 27, from 2 – 5 p.m. The show will be on view in the Upper Gallery until March 10, and the artist will visit the Museum on Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. to give a talk on Meadowlands ecology and getting the book published.
Ten years in the making, the book plunged Yezerski into research not only about the history of the place, but the biodiversity of the species that once teemed in the tidal marshlands and are now returning, after a concerted effort by federal, state, and local authorities and environmental activist groups. His book details in images and text—simple enough for elementary school readers but complex enough to suit the enormous scale—the fascinating story of the return to health of this natural treasure at the western edge of Hudson County.
Yezerski wrote Meadowlands and sketched the drawings while living in Rutherford, but painted the final art after moving to Hoboken. He currently lives in Hoboken on Garden Street, with his wife, and says they both enjoy hiking and canoeing through “the Meadows” and excursions with the Hackensack Riverkeepers organization.
Yezerski’s first work as a professional artist came in creating prints for children’s clothing. Eager to return to illustration, he started writing and illustrating his own book, about his Polish and Irish immigrant grandparents, a Romeo-and-Juliet love story set in the coal-mining country of eastern Pennsylvania. That story became his first published book, Together in Pinecone Patch, in 1998. Subsequent picture books Queen of the World and A Full Hand also depict family members as comic or historic characters. He has also illustrated 10 other books for other authors. The New York Times listed Meadowlands in its Notable Children’s Books of 2011, and the New York Public Library listed it among its Best Non-Fiction Books of 2011. It earned an inaugural Cook Prize Honor from Bankstreet College.
Yezerski took his first art lessons while in the third grade, riding his bike to an artist’s studio every Saturday morning to copy greeting cards in chalk pastel. During high school, he studied drawing and color theory at The Barnstone Studios, in Coplay, Pa. Yezerski earned his B.F.A. in Illustration in 1991, at Syracuse University.
The exhibit is supported by a block grant from the State/County Partnership program for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.