Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Bats Future Looks Bleak

According to this article efforts to save the little brown bat in NJ is pretty much a lost cause. They’ve lost 95% of their population since 2009 to the white-nose syndrome. I remember visiting the Bat Hibernaculum in Morris County about 7-8 years ago and it was amazing watching them swarm in (or out)… now you wouldn’t see that, they’re just not there.

Jim Gary’s 20th century Dinosaurs at the LSC

Jim Gary is a world famous scupltor and artist who is best known for creating extremely detailed dinosaurs from automobile parts. His dinosaurs have been exhibited internationally and command a high price in the art world. You can read about Jim Gary and his work in more detail here. In 2011 the bulk of his collection was shipped to Florida, where it is currently on display at the Tallahassee Museum. I documented their disassembly and packing here. A few sculptures remained in Colts Neck, and are now on loan for the next two months to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ, one of several dinosaur related events going on at LSC. I recently visited LSC and witnessed prep work being done to restore one of the dinosaurs for display. I also spoke to Ellen Lynch, Exhibition Operations Lead, and Mary Meluso, LSC media director, about Jim Gary, his dinosaurs and the 25th anniversary of the LSC.

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The two sculptures are on display at Liberty Science Center in the Wildlife Challenge, an outdoor exhibit for children.

Twenty years ago, when Liberty Science Center first opened its doors to the public, the special exhibitions gallery featured a large display (over 4000 sf) of Jim Gary’s fascinating dinosaur sculptures. To mark the anniversary, LSC is featuring two of Gary’s dinosaurs (Running Raptor and Brontosaurus) in an outdoor exhibition, Wildlife Challenge. There are several dinosaur related exhibits and attractions at LSC now including:

* The film “Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia” in the IMAX Dome Theater.

* Dinosaur Discovery – Visitors climb into an excavation pit to dig through sand for signs of fossils.

* Animatronic Dinosaur: See and hear a lifelike, animatronic model of Yangchuanosaurus, a Late Jurassic dinosaur, in the Eat and Be Eaten exhibition.

To complement this, there are even more limited run dinosaur-themed offerings mentioned here.

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The LSC has used art in its science exhibits before, including

* Art of Science – an exhibition of the top 45 photographs selected from Princeton University’s annual juried competition of the same name.

* A Spatial Portrait – an interactive digital artwork by artist Leni Schwendinger.

* Works by Sonic Architecture artists Bill and Mary Buchen are featured on the pathway leading to Liberty Science Center.

* Digital Darkroom: a digital photo manipulation exhibit created by former Bell Labs staffer, Bill Cheswick.

The Liberty Science Center is providing for the restoration of the two pieces, due to 20+ years of exposure to the elements. The velociraptor needed far less work and was already on display while the brontosaurus was being prepped. The restoration includes sand blasting the entire sculpture, welding repairs and priming and painting the sculpture prior to its public installation. LSC has been consulting with the Jim Gary Foundation on the details of this work.

Below are pictures of the brontosaurus (minus the head and neck) being sandblasted. The work was done by Dry Ice Blasting by Advanced Indoor Air Quality. The company does all manner of sandblasting, working on walls, houses, and cars. According to the workers, they often are called upon to clean up old pieces of art to be repainted. They blasted the surface of the metal with Black Beauty Abbrasive, made from coal. Once the paint is removed, the bare metal surface can be primed and painted.

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Sculpture on loan from the James T. Gary Foundation, courtesy of Kafi Benz, studio director, Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs (www.kafi-benz.com) ]

Jim Gary’s car parts dinosaurs moved to Florida museum

In 2004, I learned that a local NJ artist was building full sized dinosaurs out of car parts, many of which could be seen outside his Monmouth County home. Jim Gary was a self taught artist who worked in various mediums but mostly made sculptures out of metal. He was most famous for his sculptures of dinosaurs. He made them out of automotive parts he found in junkyards with painstaking attention to detail. Anyone familiar with cars can almost instantly recognize the calipers from a brake set that make up a foot or the leaf springs that make up the rib cage. Likewise nearly every one of his dinosaurs is instantly recognizable as the specific type of dinosaur it is meant to be, whether it was a T-Rex, a triceratops or a velociratpor. This is because he would research the dinosaurs extensively to make sure he got the number of vertebrae and ribs correct.

One day I took a drive and showed up unannounced at his home. I had no intention of bothering the artist, I hoped to simply take a few pictures from the road, something I imagined the artist would be accustomed to. Luckily, Jim Gary saw me, and offered me access to his property to take as many pictures as I liked. He had no time to speak to me then, but he said he would be happy to do so at another time. Unfortunately getting back to him was something I never did; the next year he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away. I posted the pictures on this site along with a brief write up about the artist and his dinosaurs. Over the next few years I gave permission to the curators of his estate permission to use some of those pictures at various exhibits. Since that time, many people searching for information about Jim Gary have found my blog entry and left kind words about the man they knew, or only knew of but wish they had met.

I was contacted by Gary’s estate in August, 2011 and asked if I would come and document the dinosaurs one last time before they were moved to the Tallahassee Museum in Florida (where they will remain for another ten years or so). I was more then happy to do this and you can see those pictures here on flickr.

Jim Gary was close friends with the Berg family for several decades. They met when the Bergs bought some of his art, and their son would sometimes help Jim create new dinosaurs. Later, as Jim’s work became famous and would travel in art shows, the Berg family would help Jim disassemble, transport and reassemble the pieces for display. After Jim’s passing, the pieces that were outside his home were kept at the Berg home in Colt’s Neck. As the pieces were being loaded into the 18 wheeler bound for Florida, local residents realized that the dinosaurs that had been a part of their quiet neighborhood would no longer be there. Many expressed disappointment at the move but understood that the art deserved a chance for the greater public to better appreciate them.

I arrived early that morning to document the pieces before dis-assembly. They were much as I remembered them, if not a bit more weathered. Life sized, iconic and a cool factor of 11. I took a bunch of pictures and before I knew it heads and tails were off in preparation for loading the following day. When I returned again, a giant fork lift had arrived to lift the two ton dinosaurs from the lawn into the backs of two tractor trailers. Straps were strung under ribs and around legs. They were carefully moved across the lawn and into the street, then hoisted to the correct height to be carefully laid inside the truck.

You can’t conceive how difficult it was to safely move these pieces of art. Despite being made of welded metal they could still suffer stress fractures or even snap if they were to impact the ground or the sides of the trucks. Furthermore, they had to be balanced safely for the ride to the truck, but be level enough to be slid inside. The largest piece only had a 6 inch clearance of the truck’s ceiling. At the end of all the pictures is a video in 3 parts showing hard how the biggest piece was to load.

Two years later, the majority of the pieces sit in the Tallahassee Museum – BUT – two other pieces are now at Liberty Science Center, on exhibit until the end of September. If you get the chance, I strongly urge you to visit these gigantic art pieces. They are awe inspiring and dramatic, and represent everything that art should be.

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All of the pics on Flickr, a LOT MORE

Interview with jeremy about Jim Gary

Interview with Arlene Berg

The Dinosaurs of Alpha

The G J Oliver Company was founded in 1960, and manufactures and designs lube oil systems, as well as fabricates steel for industrial use. The large metal dinosaurs on their back lawn and in front of the offices are the creation of Woody Hauser, one of the company employees. They were created at the request of the owner, whose grandkids love dinosaurs.

During slow periods at work, Hauser would design and fabricate these steel beasts, working from rubber toy dinosaurs given to him by Mr Oliver. Hauser estimates each dinosaur took roughly 6-9 months to design, build and erect. When he is done building one, he begins work on another, but only during slow periods at work. How many will he end up building? Hauser couldn’t say.

You can see the dinosaurs easily from the road outside the facility. Just find Industrial Drive in Alpha and head towards the end. They are on company property and are visible from the road.

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New entrants to the NJ animal HOF

In other news, there’s a NJ Animal HOF. Who knew? Apparently Samson the Pony beat out Christie the Jackass.

NJ Animal HOF home page

The Roadside Diner(saur)

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The RoadSide Diner is located at the circle at the intersection of Route 33 & 34 in Wall, NJ. It is a quaint little diner only open for breakfast and lunch and its well liked in the community. What sets it apart from other diners is the present of a dinosaur in its parking lot. Created by renowned local artist Jim Gary, the aptly named Diner-saur, was placed here because this was one of his favorite places to eat. Ever since 1993 it was here unless it was on loan somewhere. The stegosaurus has become a permanent fixture here since Gary’s death in 2005. Gary was most famous for his lifesize dinsosaurs that he made out of car parts, many of which can easily be identified upon close inspection.

Since most of Gary’s dinosaurs are now on semi-permanent display at the Science Museum of Tallahassee, if you want to see one of his works up close this is one of your few opportunities. Besides, you can stop in and get some good old fashioned comfort food at the same time. Just make sure to check their hours, they don’t do dinner.

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my girlfriend posing with the diner-saur

Jim Gary on wikipedia

Coyotes sighted in Maywood NJ

Multiple sightings of coyotes in the Hackensack and Maywood area have folks unnerved. You think?