Showing posts with label art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts

Sunday, January 27, 2008

But is it art?

We hope it will be. My friend Cheryl and I are planning an amusing installation featuring projected video and live plants we’ll call “The Secret Sex Life of Plants.” We’re making it for a fundraiser that will benefit Squeaky Wheel, a local media arts center. I’ve been doing searches and there is some great royalty-free footage of pollination you can buy from shutterstock (shown above), as well as educational animations and the like from a variety of sources. The event, called Peepshow, is a party with other installations, screenings, drinking, music, and dancing, so we’ll need to make something that can be appreciated within a minute or so.

I have the ulterior motive of moving whatever potted plants we have to buy for the installation into my plant room afterwards. There may also be some educational handouts about the importance of providing habitat for bees and using native plants. Though I imagine many of the attendees will be apartment dwellers, with gardening one of their lowest priorities. Still, for a February party, a nice fragrant room filled with color and plants may be quite welcome.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Push, pull; old, new

Renewal and positive change keep things exciting. Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Museum recognizes that importance this month as it sells some older, seldom-exhibited works in order to strengthen acquisition funds. It's been quite a local cause celebre (one that I won't rehash here), but it’s made me think about changes and additions to gardens large and small. A picture I took on a recent walk to the museum reminds me of how familiar landscapes react to change. I suppose some would see the sculpture in the picture (added a couple years ago) as detracting from the museum, but I was so struck by it, I took several pictures—and normally I'd never consider photographing the museum. It's too familiar.

When in England a few years back, we toured Hestercombe, designed by Lutyens in the eighteenth century and planted by Jekyll in the early twentieth. There was a lake surrounded by woodland walks and several beautifully-restored follies. But in addition to restoring the follies, the trust had brought in some new elements. Various sculptures created by contemporary artists appeared throughout the grounds, drawing the eye and providing focal points. Our party was divided on their efficacy, but I thought it was interesting that the restoration effort did not confine itself to keeping the garden frozen in time, but rather attempted to continue its development with twenty-first century additions. I don’t know if they were meant to be temporary installations; I suspect so. In any case, I admire the concept and hope to always be adding and subtracting from my garden, keeping it fresh and interesting. There will definitely be some deaccessioning this spring! And some acquisitions.

Restored folly:

Contemporary addition:

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I am a compost fraud

Of sorts. The truth is, I volunteered to help feed the vermicomposting installation at Hallwalls (Music for Worms and Compost) at an insouciant moment during the opening night celebrations. I think the offer was made at around 1:30 a.m.

Not that feeding compost is any big deal, but I don't compost and never have. I don't save scraps in a bucket under the sink or whatever. After casting about (would X café give me their scraps, etc.) I came up with the easiest solution, which is to simply buy the appropriate matter from the supermarket. So as I write this I have a plastic container filled with attractive layers of torn up lettuce, cut-up carrots, a few stalks from old paperwhites, and some cilantro. It's quite pretty. It's all been sitting at room temp for a while, and seems wilted enough. I hope the worms like the little salad I have prepared for them.

This week it's Boston lettuce; next week I'll try them with some radicchio or maybe some curly endive.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Nature morte

A very cool installation at the University at Buffalo uses live plants in artifical settings—pretty much the definition of gardening!—to raise issues about our relationship to the natural world. It should be no news to anyone reading this that our relationship to the natural world is disfunctional in just about every way possible: we use the oceans and rivers as toilets for chemical and human waste; we tend to look at large unspoiled areas such as forests, wetlands, and other wilderness as opportunities for development rather than ecosystems to be preserved; and we're busy destroying the atmosphere with an onslaught of emissions, causing such problems as smog and acid rain in the short term and much worse in the long term.

So. A UB Masters of Fine Arts candidate, Carin Mincemoyer, finds it interesting that the more we distance ourselves from and destroy nature, the more we seek to bring little bits of it into our lives, whether it's through gardening*, office landscaping, or just houseplants. She collected a whole bunch of styrofoam packing components (hundreds of pieces) and used their compartments to create little water gardens, cactus environments, and other plantings. She then piled and arranged them all in a gallery, also building an elegant wooden walkway so that viewers can wander among the styrofoam landscape. Here it is:

I really like this on many levels (the image BTW does not really do it justice--it needs to be seen in person). Styrofoam of course is the ultimate symbol of the throwaway culture, but in this context it provides a pure white backdrop for the brilliant green of the plants. The walkway is nice--I'd like it in my garden if I could figure out where I could put it. The installation is called Grounded. It's placed in a very high space in the University at Buffalo Art Gallery called the Lightwell.

*According to a recent Harris poll, gardening is now the most popular leisure activity (after TV and reading).