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Monday, February 2, 2009

Art exhibit portrays urgency of global warming problem

We know Fred Breglia, 35, as director of horticulture and operations at the Landis Arboretum in Schoharie County. We know him as an outspoken environmentalist, protector of old forests, regular guest on WAMC radio, musician and extreme-sports enthusiast.

Now meet Breglia the artist. His first exhibit, "Global Warming: When Trees Talk," opens Friday at the TriCounty Arts Council in Cobleskill.

Q: That's an unusual title for an art exhibit. What's the story?

A: I've been involved with art for years, heavily in high school. I used to draw very realistic stuff, tranquil scenes, wildlife, mountains, waterfalls, forests, of course. When I started becoming more and more of an activist, I looked for another avenue to release some of these frustrations that I feel. The painting started out as a vehicle to release a lot of those feelings. Then, about five years ago, I decided to create an art show that would highlight environmental problems.

Q: What's a visitor to the exhibit going to see?

A: They're going to see 15 large-scale original paintings of mine. The title piece is called "Global Warning." It's a giant oak tree that's literally burning. The fact is, more tree species are dying today than ever has been. And we're not talking about insect or disease problems. We're talking about global warming, rising temperatures.

Two of the pieces are three-dimensional. One is called "The Gyre." It has to do with the island of plastic that's floating off the coast of Hawaii. It's about two to three times the size of Texas, and it's growing exponentially. Most people aren't even aware it exists.

Q: What do you expect people to get from the show?

A: As a human race, we've got to come together to change the planet for the better. I think awareness is a huge part of the solution. There're 27,000 plant species dying every year. We're losing rain forests at the rate of a football field a second. And yet nobody even knows those statistics for the most part.

It's too late to stop an impact of what we've done with the industrial revolution up to now. We're already seeing the effects of that. What I don't think it's too late for is to lessen the impact of what could happen. But we need to wake up. And it can't happen fast enough.

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