Thursday, June 22, 2017

Atlanta Botanical Garden - The Curious Garden Opens!

Exhibit's bold art puts focus on nature's beauty

The Atlanta Botanical Garden has designated 2017 as its “year of the garden” and to celebrate is presenting an art exhibition designed to encourage guests to see, stop, experience, and talk about nature – all in surprisingly intriguing ways.
The Curious Garden, presented through October 29, features 11 site-specific installations created to share a story about the Garden’s plant collections and plant conservation work by prompting visitors to make a discovery, ask questions, and provoke a discussion.  Bold, often unexpected, man-made and altered natural materials are employed to direct the eye to focus on the simple beauty of nature.  Think dozens of multi-colored spray-painted trees. A mysterious display of scientific lab glassware filled with an array of colorful liquids.  Dozens of sparkly old chandeliers dripping with plants.
“This is the year of the garden, one that emphasizes all of our recent enhancements here, with unexpected experiences aimed at generating conversations, to get people curious and talking about nature,” said Mary Pat Matheson, the Garden’s President & CEO.  “The show will provide unique opportunities for sharing the Garden’s story, such as our important work in conservation and the preservation of trees.”
The unique and unconventional installations are the work of guest artist and design director Adam Schwerner, known for his bold, and sometimes evocative, enhancements to city parks in Chicago and elsewhere.  
Among the “unexpected” look for:
  • Dozens of bare trees, harvested off site from an overcrowded location and “planted” throughout the Garden, painted in brilliant pink, orange, blue, and green that draw the eye, inspiring conversations about color, form, and natural beauty and value of trees.
  • The Levy Parterre transformed into an elegant white garden, emphasizing plants with flowers and foliage in white, gray and silver – a salute to great gardens around the world, such as England’s famed white garden at Sissinghurst castle.
  • The Fuqua Conservatory adorned with dozens of sparkly old chandeliers dripping with plants.
Over the years, the Garden has staged carefully curated exhibitions featuring installations of existing art.  The Curious Garden, however, is unique in that it is site specific, meaning the concepts all originated from within the Garden and are designed to be integrated with the landscape and plants in a way that focuses attention on the Garden’s resources and mission, helping to tell those stories.
The exhibition also coincides with the opening of the Garden’s newest space, the Skyline Garden, designed to showcase the diversity of plants that can be grown in the Southeast while emphasizing its stunning location as an urban oasis in the heart of bustling Midtown.
Schwerner, who is Director of Disneyland Resort Horticulture & Resort Enhancement, previously was director of the Chicago Park District’s Department of Cultural and Natural Resources. There, he spearheaded initiatives to increase the presence of public art in city parks, including painting trees and providing artists the opportunity to carve standing dead trees into works of art.
“All my life I have pursued my dual loves of art and horticulture,” Schwerner said.  “With this series of site-specific art installations and the gardens, there is a coming together of these two great pursuits. And what better place is there to undertake this botanical-art adventure than the botanical garden, which so fully engages visitors with these two areas of expertise?”
Visitors may enjoy the exhibition in the evening every Thursday during Cocktails in the Garden, the popular garden party featuring live music, cash bars, and adult games.  The Garden’s onsite restaurant, Longleaf, will be serving a special dinner menu every Thursday as well (reservations are recommended).

The Curious Garden is presented with support from The Home Depot Foundation and the Isdell Family Foundation.

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