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  • Quark Park makes its debut
    By: Hilary Parker, Staff Writer 09/12/2006
    Frank Wojciechowski
    At opening, from left, David Newton of Palmer Square; Peter Soderman, Kevin Wilkes, Alan Goodheart, park developers; Phyllis Marchand, Princeton Township mayor; Lee Maschler, Trillium Trading.
    Gala opening showcases the merger of art and science

       Art and science merged Friday night in "One Enchanted Evening at Quark Park."
       There, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Director Robert Goldston discussed the aesthetics of a giant, pink Styrofoam plasma — part of the "Stellarator" installation inspired by the fusion energy experiments at the lab.
       Meanwhile, his partner on the creation, sculptor Rein Triefeldt, effortlessly explained the fusion process.
       "It hadn't crossed my mind that you could make a giant Styrofoam plasma," Mr. Goldston said, laughing. "I see a lot of equations and Rein sees something with a shape to it that's beautiful."
       Along with a number of other scientists, artists, landscapers and community members, the pair was on hand to celebrate the new sculpture garden at a gala opening fundraiser catered by Mediterra.
       As music played and workers put the finishing touches on the park, the once-vacant lot along Paul Robeson Place — donated by Palmer Square Management — came to life.
       "It feels great," said Kevin Wilkes, as he looked around the park he developed along with Peter Soderman and Alan Goodheart.
       Dressed for the occasion in a Quark Park T-shirt, Mr. Wilkes lauded the generosity of the artists and scientists, along with numerous area residents and organizations. These include pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, which recently made a $10,000 donation to support the park. Their generosity will help fund an outdoor amphitheater that will house events in the coming months, Mr. Wilkes said.
       Standing in a sea of delicate glass bubbles, Princeton University Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Naomi Leonard praised the educational aspect of the endeavor.
       "It's a nice way to make science accessible to larger audiences," she said.
       The bubbles, created by glass artist Bob Kuster, hearken to the underwater research conducted by Professor Leonard. A suspended school of fish and a miniature fleet of robots offer an additional artistic nod to her emphasis on how things both natural and engineered respond to the movements of others around them.
       Those on a visit to Quark Park may learn from the experience, but the accomplished intellectuals and artists involved also found their minds stretched by the collaboration.
       The chance to brainstorm with artists was an education in and of itself, Professor Leonard said. Pointing out the way a dolphin-shaped blue atlas cedar lent an underwater feel to the installation, she said she had never before considered the artistic use of plants to convey a certain mood or ambience.
       Beyond its educational merits, Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand praised the way in which the park united people throughout the community. Though she lauded all of the installations, she admitted to having a soft spot in her heart for "Sundial," thanks to her longstanding relationships with its creators. Crafted by her longtime friend and Institute for Advanced Study Professor Emeritus Freeman Dyson, the sculpture also tapped into the talents of her congressman and colleague — scientist and member of the House of Representatives Rush Holt (D-12).
       Furthermore, the architect on the project, Allan Kehrt of KSS Architects, designed Township Hall, she said, adding that landscape architect Dan Burke and Charlie Yedlin of Yedlin Construction have long been valuable members of the community.
       "They're all very giving and active in Princeton," she said.
       Their installation seemed to capture her mind along with her heart as she launched into a discussion about the merits of Daylight Saving Time.
       "I hadn't thought of it as human-manipulated time," she said. "I'm learning, too."
       The park, which contains 14 installations, will be open to the public and illuminated daily until 11 p.m. throughout the fall season.

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