Butterflies are Free


Swallowtail butterflies were among the 24 species observed around Staten Island during the annual butterfly count.

This year’s annual butterfly count was held on Sunday, July 17. Teams of naturalists — organized by Cliff Hagen, president of the Protectors of Pine Oak Woods — spread out across Staten Island to assess the status of the borough’s butterfly population.

According to Hagen, “It is important to continue to monitor the health and wellness of these gentle winged creatures because they are a simple indication as to the health and wellness of our communities. As we move from Snug Harbor, to Northern Seaview, Great Kills Park, Blue Heron Park, Mount Loretto, Conference House Park and lastly Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve, we traveled through nearly every neighborhood on the Island. We were able to see the impact of economic growth and development.”

A tally of the day’s observations revealed that a total of 598 individual butterflies belonging to two dozen species had been seen. This was a bit lower than years past. Part of the reason for the low count may be that this year’s event was postponed from an earlier date due to inclement weather.

“Butterflies are so weather-dependent. Too cool, too wet, too windy and the count is spoiled. These past two years we have had to reschedule the count due to unseasonably cool, wet weather,” Hagen said. “And because the flight stage of their short life-cycle is so brief, a week can make a substantial difference in species diversity and census data of our local butterflies.”



SI SHARP Showcase is a Hit Again This Year!

via Michael J. Fressola/SILive.com

HARP artists Brighid Connors and Anna Souvorov strike a pose in the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art. (Courtesy Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden)

Relaunched for a little over a year now, the SHARP (Snug Harbor Artist Residency Program) series keeps topping itself.

This on-the-grounds working fellowship plants young artists on the grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden for six weeks, and then shows the public what they’ve grown during their stay.

What’s with all the horticultural imagery? Both of the current SHARP awardees are interested in living/growing things. It’s a smart choice for the Harbor, which has a two-acre working farm, a restored wetland, botanical garden and acres and acres of trees and lawn.

The place is alive.

But for painter Anna Souvorov, a recent Cooper Union and School of Visual Arts graduate, the Harbor really shines after sunset, by moonlight. Her representational approach is naturalistic but stylized and there’s a whiff of Rousseau in the graphic curves of her fronds and foliage.

A narrative, partly drawn from literature and partly from the life and time of local naturalist William T. Davis (1862-1945) underlies some of these elegant oil-on-linen paintings. The artist actually hired an actor to strike poses in the gardens after dark.

In a day-lit tribute, she reproduces a signature Davis moment from a famous photograph in which he is trying to net a butterfly. He was notoriously fond of them and cicadas (and was the source of the Staten Island museum’s huge cicada and insect collections.

In the painter’s revised version, a self-possessed rabbit is sitting quietly nearby, ignoring the proceedings.