Zach Fuertes is a painter and sculptor, living in Boulder, Colorado. He received his BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. He paints and represents scenery, people, and plant life in vibrant colors resembling his youth in Florida. Combining his love for art, curiosity for the natural world, and passion for exploring the wilderness, he depicts the dynamic world around us in responsive colorful tributes. He has currently been working on getting a grant from the State of Colorado, to study and protect the medicinal plants and mushrooms of the Southern Rocky Mountains.

Zach's project “The Real NewYorkers” is a public exhibit and community experience in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. The artist will create fictional flora and fungi of NYC's five boroughs. He will attribute characteristics of the imagined species by exploring the streets and people of the city, with a similar attentiveness to foraging and studying the creatures of the forest.

Through a motley of mediums, styles, and reused materials, the show will analyze the exaggerated and spectacular features of the inhabitants, and how these factors help them survive and thrive in their ecosystem. Some will be accompanied by personal diseases or pests, who create unique and creative ways of defending themselves. Through these key attributes, the artist intends to explore the range of life in a singular area, and how diverse and dependent most species are on each other. The significant role they play in our ecosystem benefits us all.

The artist will accompany each organism with additional information about its living process and characteristics, such as common and scientific names, medicinal and poisonous values, reproductive habits, lifestyles, and habitats. Including the symbiotic relationships some share, and how they learn to prosper together in their harsh environments.

The purpose of the exhibit is to express the vast array of possibilities in nature, amidst the life constantly flourishing around us. As well as make New Yorkers view the simplest objects or places they pass daily without recognition in a vitalized new perspective. Through the artists depictions of invented life, the reality that we live and share our homes with amazing, humorous, and sometimes deadly inconspicuous neighbors are brought to light.

Peaking the curiosity of the audience, it also is intended to educate locals simply as a starting off point about native wild foods and medicines, mycelium networks, ecosystems, and how to protect and research them.