by Andrew Mead
It’s said that 10,000 hours of practice are needed to master one’s craft. James Fiorentino surely reached this milestone by age 15, when he was the youngest artist ever to have his work featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. At age 39, he has now refocused his attention on wildlife, which he started painting at 10 years old, and brings them to life in exquisite detail on canvas.
Little Brown Bat by Fiorentino
Conserve Wildlife Foundation is proud to present Rare Wildlife Revealed: The James Fiorentino Traveling Art Exhibition. We are kicking things off with a free premiere showing at D&R Greenway Land Trust on Friday September 30th from 5:30 to 7:30pm, which will run concurrently with Species on the Edge, our annual art and essay contest for 5th graders.
Showcasing twenty-five original watercolor paintings – from bobcats and diamondback terrapins to Pine Barrens tree frogs and little brown bats – Rare Wildlife Revealed celebrates local wildlife and brings attention to the very tangible steps we can take to save and strengthen our most vulnerable species.
Eastern Box Turtle by Fiorentino
Join us to meet James Fiorentino, as he walks you through the exhibit and shares his passion for the wildlife of New Jersey. CWF’s leading biologists and a live bird of prey will be on hand to educate and inspire you. We are also proud to announce special guest Tom Kean, former Governor of New Jersey, who shares a special relationship with James and conservation in New Jersey. Gov. Kean wrote the foreword to the art book accompanying the exhibit, with CWF’s David Wheeler writing the introduction. Light fare, wine and Flying Fish beer will be provided.
Fiorentino’s early interest in the outdoors was piqued by fishing trips with his father, a biology teacher, and excursions to his uncle’s farm in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Now a resident of Hunterdon County, James draws inspiration from his own backyard, “I am awed by what we see here: the eastern box turtle (a vulnerable species), great horned owl, pileated woodpeckers, foxes, hawks and butterflies. It’s an amazing backyard ecosystem.”
Fiorentino holding an eaglet
Fiorentino also draws inspiration from his work with The Raptor Trust of Millington, New Jersey, of which he is a trustee. It is there that he is able to study rare and endangered birds up close, even holding them, to capture their unique characteristics in beautiful detail. “We rehabilitate 4,000 birds a year and release about half that number,” says James. “These wild birds have had a tremendous influence on me. I enjoy getting close to birds of prey, and it has brought me back to nature art.”
Speaking of Rare Wildlife Revealed: The James Fiorentino Traveling Art Exhibition, he shares, “I am excited about this premiere showing that supports two excellent organizations, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and D&R Greenway Land Trust. Because of their work, endangered wildlife who make their home in New Jersey will continue to have a supportive habitat.”
Fiorentino’s five-year-old son excitedly points to a butterfly outside his dining room window. “That’s my favorite!” He shows a series of colored drawings. “My dad draws the outline and I fill it in,” he explains. Following in his own father’s footsteps, James is creating memories with his two young sons and inspiring a love for wildlife. We know this exhibit will inspire you too.
Andrew Mead is a communication intern with Conserve Wildlife Foundation.