Arts & Culture

Visual Arts Center of NJ’s ‘Park Wonder’ Exhibit Opens April 20


Great Swamp Boardwalk, Matthew Jensen, 2016.

More than two years in the making, Park Wonder: Rediscovering Four New Jersey Landscapes will open at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey on April 20, 2017.

Park Wonder is a multi-dimensional site-specific exhibition drawn from the artist Matthew Jensen’s experiences in public parks and landscapes. Funded in part by a grant award from the National Endowment for Arts, Park Wonder is the culmination of months of walking, photographing, and collecting objects along the Passaic River; at Watchung Reservation; at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge; and at Sandy Hook, part of Gateway National Park. Art Center Executive Director, Melanie Cohn notes that Jensen’s artwork “opens new ways of experiencing the world around us.”

Jensen seeks to find both the ordinary and the extraordinary in the landscapes that many of us, especially in densely-developed New Jersey, take for granted. He has spent months exploring these four landscapes, taking photographs and collecting objects. Ian Frazier, who writes for the New Yorker, and contributed an essay to the exhibition’s companion book, Ian Frazier notes, “Almost nobody does what Jensen does—look, and look, and look again at what’s out there, in the sky, on the pavement, in the water, on the ground.” Jensen also does intensive research to find out the history, usage, flora, and fauna of each place. The resulting exhibition, with representative images and artifacts chosen from the thousands he has collected, will introduce visitors to a New Jersey they may live in, but not really know.

Join us for an opening reception on Thursday, April 20, from 6 to 8 pm. Matt Jensen, and our other exhibiting artists, Jessica Rohrer and Alice Momm, will be on hand to discuss their work. For additional information about Park Wonder, the book, and related programs, visit

Related Programs:

2017 Earth Day at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Saturday, April 22nd from 10am-2pm. View the exhibitions, participate in hands on art and science workshops, learn about ways to contribute to helping the environment directly in this area, speak with local naturalists and park geologists + more! This event is free and for all ages! For more information contact Sarah Walko, Director of Education and Outreach at 908.273.9121 ext 213.

In Discussion: Walking as a Radical Act, Sunday, April 30 at 3 pm in the Art Center’s Main Gallery. Join William Helmreich, author of The New York Nobody Knows; David Rothenberg, philosopher, musician, and author of Why Birds Sing; visual artist Simonetta Moro; and exhibiting artist Matt Jensen in a discussion about the act of walking moderated by artist, writer, and critic Christina Kee.

Artist Led Walks with Matt Jensen Saturday May 6th, at Watchung Reservation at 11 am; Saturday May 20th, at the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge at 11 am; and Saturday, June 17th, along the Passaic River at 11 am. Details will be posted on the Art Center website at


Major support for the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the WJS Foundation, the Wilf Family Foundations and Art Center members and donors.

About the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey

For more than 80 years, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has been dedicated to viewing, making and learning about contemporary art. Recognized as a leading non-profit arts organization and accredited by the American Alliance for Museums, the Art Center’s renowned studio school, acclaimed exhibitions, and educational outreach initiatives serve thousands of youth, families, seniors and people with special needs every year.

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