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An exhibit of watercolors by NJ painter James Fiorentino at the Blauvelt Museum in Oradell through July 30 celebrates NJ’s rarer and resilient species
James M. O’Neill/NorthJersey.com

A bald eagle looks fiercely off the canvas.

A surly bobcat saunters by, kicking up snow.

An osprey, flying boldly across a brilliant blue sky, keeps an iron grip on a helpless fish held face-forward in its talons.

These are just a few of the striking watercolor paintings by New Jersey artist James Fiorentino currently on display at the Hiram Blauvelt Museum in Oradell as part of a three-year traveling exhibit presented by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

The 25 watercolor paintings in the exhibit offer up some of the unusual and even rare creatures that often share real estate with people and development in the most densely populated state in the country.

Perhaps the painting that gets that point across most clearly provides a view looking down on the back of a peregrine falcon, wings spread, as it sails west toward the New Jersey side of the Hudson River with car traffic streaming across the George Washington Bridge beneath it.

The bird looks as though it has joined the rush hour in its own distinct way, but it looks off to the left, unimpressed by the cars or the imposing bridge tower below.

“From the bobcat and the bald eagle to the humpback whale and sea horse, these creatures great and small have managed to survive in densely populated New Jersey,” said David Wheeler, the Conserve Wildlife Federation’s executive director. “But they need our help, and these gorgeous paintings illustrate what is at stake.”

The exhibit runs through July 30, and on Friday there will be a free reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the museum.

Former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean wrote the foreword for the hardcover art book accompanying the exhibition. Sales of the exhibition book, original paintings, limited edition digital prints, and wildlife merchandise will benefit Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

“We hope this exhibit will not only inspire but educate everyone who comes through our doors,” said James Bellis Jr., the museum president. “You will see our very own Jersey artist pay tribute to some of New Jersey’s vulnerable wildlife species.”

Fiorentino started painting animals when he was 10. At 15, he became the youngest artist to be featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame with paintings of such baseball legends as Reggie Jackson, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ted Williams. Fiorentino, 39, grew up in Middlesex County, attended and played baseball at Drew University, and now lives in…