Mysteries of science and art bloom in Quark
Roosevelt artist's mural on
display in Princeton throughout October
Princeton area residents, including an artist in
Roosevelt, have collaborated to make some of the most abstract
art and hard-to-grasp scientific theories accessible to all in
a project called Quark Park.
|Roosevelt resident Jim Hayden has just
completed this mural, which will be installed in
Princeton Borough's temporary Quark Park later
In particle physics, quarks are one of the two
basic constituents of matter. One of their most important
properties is that they cannot be seen because they are always
confined inside subatomic particles.
Quark Park is a venue that gives visitors the
rare opportunity to see the often elusive and quark-like
mysteries of art and science unleashed, illuminated and
Located in what was formerly a
150,000-square-foot vacant lot in Palmer Square on Robeson
Place in Princeton Borough, Quark Park is a lush garden of
sculptures and art installations that allow the public to
explore the contributions of science.
Conceived, designed and organized by Kevin
Wilkes, Peter Soderman and Alan Goodheart, the park is similar
in concept to the their award-winning Writers' Block of 2004,
according to the Quark Park Web site.
Instead of focusing on authors and literature
as they did with Writers' Block, this time the creators used
teams of scientists and engineers, as well as artists and
landscape architects, to collaborate on a garden of
Creative landscaping, which includes rows of
corn, gardens and bamboo molds the natural labyrinth that
twists and turns and leads visitors to various compartments
that spotlight 12 different sciences.
More than a dozen high-profile artists and
scientists worked on Quark Park, which is a project that
represents Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced
Study, also of Princeton, and New Brunswick's Rutgers
University along with private industry in the area. The
scientists who worked on installations have been recognized
for achievements in areas like genomics, neuroscience, plasma
physics, robotics, astrophysics, materials science and earth
science, according to the Quark Park Web site.
Among those represented in the garden are
sculptor Nancy Cohen, who designed an installation in
collaboration with Princeton University President Shirley
Tilghman and James Strum, a professor of engineering and
applied science at the university. Their installation is based
loosely on how the brain receives and processes smells,
according to the Web site.
Bob Kuster, of Belle Mead Hot Glass in Belle
Mead, is also represented. He created handblown bubbles for
Quark Park, the Web site said.
U.S. Congressman Rush Holt (D-12) is also
among those represented in the garden. He teamed up with
Freeman Dyson, of the Institute for Advanced Study, and
architect Alan Kehrt to create an installation about
alternative and solar power, according to the Web site.
Roosevelt resident Jim Hayden, owner of The
Eleanor Gallery in Roosevelt, also contributed to the project
through his 6.5-foot-by-9-foot mural titled "Please Forgive
Us, Uncle Albert." The mural is mostly acrylic paint on
canvas, but also uses silver leafing and some collage.
Hayden has a compartment all his own in the
labyrinth, as his mural ties together various themes in the
garden, making a unique statement that emphasizes Albert
Einstein's relationship to all the sciences, he said.
"When I was speaking with Peter Soderman about
the project," Hayden said, "he mentioned that [it] would be a
quiet memorial to Albert Einstein."
Knowing about Einstein and having learned that
the scientist never really wished to be memorialized, Hayden
said he came up with the idea to just faintly express
Einstein's image in the midst of his mural.
"Albert Einstein is an omnipresent character
at best," Hayden said. "People may not notice that he is
there, but he's overlooking the whole canvas. He's being
attentive, seeing everything that's going on in the
Just as eclectic as the mix of people
represented in Quark Park is the group of more than a dozen
sciences represented in Hayden's mural. Genetics,
geomorphology, neuroscience, geometry, psychoacoustics and
astronomy are just some of the sciences an onlooker may be
able to distinguish.
Hayden said he views his mural like it's the
beginning of a book.
"Each image represents a unit in the leaves of
the textbook," he said.
To create each image and the overall balance
of the work, Hayden said he had to "open up a box of
Technicolor crayons" and rely on the inspiration he gains from
other artists he knows in Roosevelt.
"This town has an incredible history," he
said. "It has the Ben Shahn mural, which is one of the
greatest pieces of art in town in a public place.
"Then we have people like Ani Rosskam and Bill
Leech, who have also done interesting murals," he
'To be in such great company," he said, "has a
definite influence on the work that I do."
Hayden was selected to participate in the
Quark Park project after Roosevelt residents Jolene Gallegos
and Robert Mueller mentioned him to the park's
"It was an honor to be involved and to have
the people that referred me for the project to do so because
their belief in me was already there," he said.
Hayden said that knowing the connection
between Roosevelt and Einstein also helped him in his artistic
endeavor. He said Einstein visited Roosevelt in the 1930s when
it had just been created by the federal government as a
cooperative community. According to local papers at that time,
Einstein gave the utopian project his blessing.
The opportunity to draw from that connection
and to create the mural, Hayden said, made him "extremely
"I was excited about being involved with such
a project," he said. "It was a great surprise, and I love a
great challenge that will broaden my horizons."
Hayden said he also enjoyed the fact that the
project was being created by a group of volunteers lending
whatever they could to the project.
"To know that we had days of 100-degree
weather and over four inches of rain during the time that the
volunteers were getting this done," he said, "is a testament
to the involvement of the people."
Hayden said it was a pleasure to watch the
metamorphosis of the vacant lot into Quark Park.
He watched as a few spray-painted circles on the
ground transformed "into a living and extraordinary concerted
effort by so many different and valuable talents," he
"I have visited the site three or four times,"
Hayden said, "and each time I've gone out, the corn rows grew
"All of a sudden," he continued, "a 25-foot
bamboo garden sprung up and a monolithic stone was put in
place on of the pathways."
The overall aim of the project, according to
Hayden, is to educate the public in a fun manner.
"If the labyrinth can educate the public as I
educated myself throughout this project, then I think it will
have achieved its goal," Hayden said.
Quark Park will be open to visitors throughout
"It's temporary, which makes it even more
interesting because it's fleeting," Hayden said. "It's all an
effort put into creation for the general public to enjoy, but
people better enjoy [it] now before it's gone."
Hayden said that unfortunately, this will be
the last kind of community project for the vacant lot.
Princeton's Palmer Square Management agreed to
make its property available on a temporary basis for the
remainder of 2006 - prior to the commencement of construction
for its new residential project in the spring of 2007,
according to Quark Park's Web site.
Although the creators of Writers' Block and
Quark Park will no longer have the same space to work in, the
creators hope to find another space to use for similar
projects in the years to come, according to Hayden.
He said the creators also hope that Quark Park
will inspire other communities to create interesting and
educational projects in public places.