Sunday, April 4, 2021

Sculpture in Gardens

Art is one of the finest things humans produce. It gives happiness to the maker and to the viewer. Gardens may have begun for growing food or medicine, but today they are places of joy and relaxation. When you put art into gardens, there is the potential for amazing things. 

Horses --Kevin Box, Santa Fe Botanic Garden
Horses --steel, in the form of origami folded paper - by Kevin Box, Santa Fe Botanic Garden

My travels often combine art and plants, which intersect at sculpture installations in gardens. I have walked thorough many gardens and parks with both permanent and temporary art displays. Some were outstanding: see the horses runnig through the Santa Fe Botanic Garden, above. 

Public parks and garden find art displays useful--for variety in their landscapes, because art is beautiful, and to increase attendance. The artist gets exposure to a different audience, especially if it is a traveling exhibit. 

All of those are good. However, I am a great fan of nature. Forests and flowers are beautiful of themselves. Thus, for me, there is an important issue: does the outdoor setting make the art look better AND does the art make the outdoor setting look better? Most times I find the art enhanced by being outdoors. But sometimes the art does nothing for its setting. 

Putting together the photos for this post, I found the art I've photographed in gardens and parks ranges from very representative to highly abstract. The viewer might just imagine seeing the horse (below)

The American Horse by Nina Akamu
The American Horse, by Nina Akamu
Frederik Meijer Garden, Grand Rapids, MI

Other pieces, like the figure below, are expressing something complex. Unlike the horse, which could be a glimpse of a real horse, Bird Wrap it is not an ordinary person or animal doing ordinary things.

Bird Wrap by Ivan Eyre, McMichael Canadian Art Center, Toronto
Bird Wrap by Ivan Eyre,
McMichael Canadian Art Center, Toronto

And beyond that are pieces so abstract that they will evoke different things to different viewers. Is that an otter?
Morris Arboretum
Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia; I didn't record the sculptor

Some of these pieces of art are displayed outdoors because they are too big to display well indoors. And I feel that for some the environment was incidental--space was all that was needed. I don't have pictures  where I felt that was the case because I don't photograph sculptures I don't like. 

Pleasing pices, though, link in some way to their location. These big flowers are in a flowerbed.

flowers, artist unknown, Loveland Colorado
flowers, artist unknown, Loveland Colorado

This maple samara (winged single-seeded fruit) is larger than life and the sculptor's statement is not clar to me. However, it fits into the themes of Mt. Cuba Center garden, with its big stands of old trees and interest in native plants.

sculpture, Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, Delaware
maple samara sculpture, 
Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, Delaware

The 6' copper frog, one of a series, added considerable humor, in this case to a planting of herbs.

Cora the Gardening Frog, J.A. Cobb, Mounts Botanic Garden, FL
Cora the Gardening Frog, J.A. Cobb,
Mounts Botanic Garden, Florida

Or Dale Chihuly's glass, seen here in the Denver Botanic Garden, seems to be plants. I thought some of it quite spectacular: this for example
sculpture, Dale Chihuly, Denver Botanic Garden
Turquoise Reeds, by Dale Chihuly', Denver Botanic Garden.

Art in parks and gardens can make you smile, from the surprise of encountering them, from the beauty,  or from the message, or all of those. Mostly, both site and art are enhanced. The great ones are really terrific. Look for them. 

Juming Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
a mushroom with teeth? Juming Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

sculpture, Dale Chihuly, seen in Denver
lotus leaves in glass, Dale Chihuly sculpture,
seen at Denver Botanic Garden

Comments and corrections welcome.

More pictures of Chiluly Glass in Denver link

More of Juming Musuem in Taiwan: link 

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist
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