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"Robert Smithson's New Jersey" Opens at Montclair Art Museum

Cynthia Cumming

Saturday, March 1, 2014 • 3:29pm

WEST ORANGE. NJ - Robert Smith (1938 -1973) was a New Jersey born and bred photographer that spent his short life nomadically traveling throughout New Jersey, capturing the instrinsic nature of its landscape and the encroaching development of suburbia. He was also a sculptor who reveled in taking the most mundane components of nature, like rocks and sand, and creating visual imagery to draw the viewer in.

"Robert Smithson's New Jersey" is the latest exhibit housed at the Montclair Art Museum, who continues its 100th Year Anniversary with special exhibitions and programming. Smithson's exhibit runs from February 23-June 22, and is a must-see for artistically inclined New Jerseyans and naturalists.  

Smithson was born in Passaic and raised in Rutherford and Clifton. In addition to his photographs (many of which were taken with a Kodak Instamatic camera) and sculpture, Smithson was an accomplished sketch artist, filmmaker, and critical writer. He was innovative in his use of materials like sand, rocks, mirrors, and maps. He was one of the founders of the Earthworks art form, now known as "Land Art."

Over 60 pieces of Smithson's works are on exhibit and represent his forays into various areas of New Jersey, including Rutherford (prior to the development of the Meadowlands), Paterson, Great Notch, Upper Montclair the Pine Barrens, and the quarries of Ogdensburg. In addition, he created snapshots in time of local communities as they were growing in the 1960s.

Smithson's life was cut short by a plane crash in 1973, leaving behind a rich and  storied legacy of his love and insight into the very core of the Garden State.

West Orange residents are reminded that the West Orange Arts Council recently donated two family passes for the Montclair Art Museum that can be used by residents to visit the museum free of charge, as well as receive discounts at the gift shop. To read more about the passes, go here.

For more information about the Montclair Art Museum and its 100th Anniversary exhibits, go to www.montclairartmuseum.org/‎.

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