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Silver Maples In the Urban Wild
by Sarah Leon

Added to website April 3, 2006 - reception photo added June 3, 2006
Slide show, on this website, of Sarah Leon's silver maple paintings
(for MORE art work of Sarah Leon go to

"Silver Maples in the Urban Wild" is an exhibit of landscape oil paintings devoted to a single silver maple forest by New England landscaper Sarah Leon. The Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR) inspired her to devote a series to the very unique stand of maples entitled a "small river flood plain forest" according to the state of Massachusetts. This 130 acres of green space marshland, river, ponds and various ecosystems, currently exists as home to diverse species of birds, trees and 19 species of mammals. The forest is in danger of being clear cut for development. A reversal is required. The oil painting series which captures the quiet beauty of the area is a loud protest against any affront to the "great swamp" remnant from 1600 -1940, and the oldest birding area in the United States.*

Beginning in winter, the artist returns to locations several times to capture the bloom of spring and growth of summer. Using the knowledge of FAR, the artist explores the forest with new insight into various ecosystems. She has worked plein air for many years. Her work has been featured in collections in New England and California. This exhibit will focus on painting a well-studied ecological space of great visual beauty with well-developed habitat opportunities for species that require large territorial distances such as raptors, falcons, fox, coyote, and Great horned owl. The paintings which are drenched in deep hues of the silver maples and urban wild Alewife Reservation landscape provide needed spiritual encouragement for the future of Mystic River watershed's open space in the highly condensed metropolitan region of Belmont, Arlington, Cambridge and Somerville.

This exhibit is an opportunity for a vast array of human species to recognize our common spirit of appreciation for the round the clock hard worker, and generous provider of mother nature. Artists, environmentalists, naturalists, local businesses, residents, and students, all have an interest in entering a forest that provides well being and natural protections that each requires.

All of the work is for sale.
Partial proceeds will help the Friends of Alewife Reservation advocate for the protection of the forest with the local agencies.

* William Brewster's Birds of The Cambridge Region was published in 1906 by the Nuttall Ornithological Club at Harvard University.

Press Release

Alewife Reservation and its core forest buffer have found a valuable friend and advocate in talented artist, Sarah Leon of Watertown, MA. Sarah Leon paints landscapes on location in oil on canvas. She is interested in communicating the struggle and bloom of life through the genre of the landscape. Her recent exhibit at the Hubble Space Telescope Research Center reflects her interest in untouched land in the search for inspiring wild . In this series on the Alewife Reservation, Sarah Leon approaches her painting in a different manner. The forest is on the "endangered" list from development and Sarah aims to give the natural resources a voice which they presently do not have. She is becoming deeply immersed in the wild, finding the habitat of fox and coyote, dens and rabbit runs.. "Winter is most alive with tiny rodents under the snow blankets, bustling around no matter the cold; soon to be spotted by the Red-tailed hawk.. In the midst of such urban frenzy, the quiet remoteness at the Reservation and forested maples, I feel like I am 'celebrating a little secret.' with the wilderness gently surrounding me. The natural pathway in the woods those of us who are here to conserve and protect. I carry a reverence for the aged maple, ash and willow trees that predate me, which show their maturity and natural forcefulness all around the river and marsh. They've witnessed years of wilderness changes, and given sustenance to the surrounding shrubs, meadows and wildlife. This is truly a green space rarity for we urban dwellers."

Sarah's trees and landscapes are both magical and scientific, infused with all hopeful spirits of nature's future in the urban wild and everywhere.

Sarah will study her subjects in the wild throughout the spring, and will present her work soon throughout the Boston metropolitan area.

Reception at Audubon Belmont Habitat, June 1.
Trees and scenes of Silver Maple Forest are shown.

Show remains at Habitat until June 30th.