Photographs by Matt Potenski and Daniel Winstead
Curated by Bruce Soffer
Exhibition Opening April 22, 2023, 6-9PM
Come Celebrate the 53 rd Birthday of Earth Day
* Ala Hate, from the language of the indigenous Lenni-Lenape Nation who lived on this land of what is now
Hudson County & the NE US for 12,000 years before White Europeans arrived here. Ala hate means gone
forever, or extinct. The Lenape are the people who sold the Dutch Colonists the island of Manhattan for $24
worth of trinkets in 1626. Today that amount is the equivalent of approx. eleven-hundred dollars. Please note
that when the Lenape lived off the land and waters of the NE and Mid-Atlantic states which were in healthier
conditions than today.
Gallery 201 is proud to present this timely exhibition Endangered>>Extinct* which coincides
with the 53 rd Annual Earth Day, that we wish to celebrate with you. The photographs of
wildlife, insects and plants by Matt Potenski and Daniel Winstead at Gallery 201 exist on paper
& canvas, and are filled with life, color, benefit/loss, magic and mystery. We Sapiens are the
only lifeform with ability to hope or work toward allowing these grand creatures to continue to
exist into the 22 nd Century and beyond. In our time of degradation of the only environment we
possess it is apparent that many species may become extinct within a relatively short time.
According to National Geographic there are presently more than 37,000 species that are
endangered of becoming extinct and by 2050 at least 3,000 will succumb.
As a curator, student and observer of art, culture and history I have noticed that the
contemporary is morphing quickly into the future, due to digitalization, AI, VR, AR and MR, the
advance of tech, data and science, in addition to the current 24-hour news cycle. This is a
partial cause for the increasing pace of climate destruction and its threat to all life forms….
which leads to the conclusion that “the future is contemporary” in most areas of our lives: such
as art, science, education, and innovation. The Anthropocene Epoch, a name given to describe
the time we are now living (since 1950) when human activity has negatively affected the
surface of the earth, degrading our environment. The overall lack of will to implement
significant counter measures is another reason for this condition.
One of the earliest images that portrays an insect is about 14,000 years old, an engraving of a
cricket carved into a bison bone found in a cave in southern France. This supports the fact that
there has long been the human need to express, communicate and even be creative. The art
that reveals the beauty of fish, wildlife, insects and the rest of our natural world’s environment
today does not only exist for our visual benefit,but also as an indicator of the health of our
planet and serve as an advocate for our planets long term wellness. The relative health of our
oceans determines the well- being of the animals who live there, allowing them to provide us
with a healthy food supply.
Among the greatest photographers of its approximately 200-year history who recorded our wild
lands include Ansel Adams, Edward Curtis, William Henry Jackson and Eliot Porter. Cherry &
Bryan Alexander should also be lauded for their still ongoing 50-year project of photographing
the many changes in the Arctic and Antarctica. Credit must also be given to long-time Brazilian
photographer Sebastiao Salgado, whose photographs and books (Genesis, Exodus and
Migrations) have been seen by millions in museums, galleries, books and online. In total they
reveal global degradation, human migrations caused by environmental damage, poverty, war,
industrial habitat destruction of landscape, and in Genesis the contrast of the majesty of the
unspoiled lands of our planet. Among the contributions of this select group include furthering
the beauty and importance of the natural world and its wilderness, the establishment of the
National Parks Yellowstone and Yosemite, documenting the indigenous people of the US in the
late 1800’s to the early 1900’s and the burden imposed on the environment by human activity,
plus furthering the acceptance of color photography as a legitimate art form.
The creations of artists have touched and influenced individuals and the broader culture for
many centuries, but for change to occur and regenerate our environmental health people must
act. The images of wonder and beauty within this exhibition can spark that process.