There is a blooming arts community making waves throughout the Bronx over the last couple of years. One such example is the latest exhibit at the Poe Park Visitor's Center, with renowned Bronx artist Daniel Hauben featuring his latest work, "Urban Oasis: 30 Years Painting Bronx Parks", curated by Lucy Aponte and Laura Alvarez of the Parks Department, and featuring 36 pieces of oil on canvas. Daniel, who currently resides in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, states that the exhibit represents a cross-section of his exploration of the beauty found in the borough's parks over the last thirty years, capturing the natural landscape with the people and surrounding architecture that most others take for granted.
Daniel admits that during his early years as an artist, the landscape element was missing. However, he soon discovered the nuances of being in nature and the new parts of the color-spectrum that are currently incorporated throughout this exhibit. The latest of Daniel's works were painted last summer and include such locations as the Bronx Zoo, St. James Park, Poe Park, and Highbridge Park.
Daniel recalls his time in art school at the School of Visual Art in Manhattan, where his teacher commented how he incorporated trees into his artwork, of which he replied, "Have you ever been to the Bronx? We have trees." As the borough with the most parkland in the City, Daniel says we have the wonderful experience of being able to get out of the street and into nature, and that is what is being celebrated at this exhibit.
Why paint Bronx parks? "Number one, it is an untapped subject matter. You can look through the entire history of paintings of parks and you won't find anything in the Bronx until maybe 50 years ago. Second, when you go out into the wilderness, you are painting the same subject that painters have painted throughout history. But here in the Bronx, its new turf, its the layers of history in the city getting thrown together, including new people and local architecture, because no one could have ever planned it the way it looks." Daniel reflects that painting a street scene in the Bronx is definitely more of a challenge then his previous work, and that sometimes it could be difficult to bring cohesion to his work when painting local Bronx scenes.
Daniel's other works include the tribute to the 100th Anniversary of the Grand Concourse in 2009 and his most recent work, a three year, 22 painting commission for the new Robert A. Stern Library at Bronx Community College. He is also working on a project called the Bronx Artist Documentary Project, in collaboration with the Bronx Documentary Center, which consists of thirty Bronx-based photographers taking pictures of 70 Bronx artists in their studios. The exhibit of these photographs will take place on September 13, 2014 at the Andrew Freedman Home. This particular work will catalogue what he believes is a transition occurring in the history of the Bronx, which Daniel compares to where Brooklyn was twenty years ago. "I am excited to be a part of this project, where we are discovering an artists' community who are in turn, waiting to be discovered. We want the art community to be more sustaining here in the Bronx, to be acknowledged, and that we are a positive influence."
"Here's my bottom line. Everyone has a creative soul, a creative spirit," remarks Daniel. "It is the job of the artist and society to remind everyone of what is inside themselves and when you discover that creativity within, its very enriching and gives life a whole new dimension. And that's what I'm here to do."
Urban Oasis has been on display since April 26 and will remain at the Poe Park Visitor's Center until May 31st. For more pictures of the exhibit, please visit the Bronx On The Go photo album. For more information on the artist, visit his website at www.danielhauben.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.