Tag Archive | art

Art and Autumn at the Arboretum

Just in time, we were able to catch the last few days of this year’s sculpture exhibition, Origami in the Garden, at the Morton Arboretum last month. These beautiful metal sculptures, created by Kevin and Jennifer Box, are modelled after the art of Origami or paper folding and the Arboretum was the perfect backdrop for this amazing artwork.

 

Not only did we get to enjoy the art but also some nice autumn scenery, even if the colors weren’t as vibrant this year.

In order to replicate the Origami creations, each sculpture goes through a 35-step, 12-week process of casting in bronze, aluminum or steel.

The turtles are real, but the raptor is another of Kevin Box’s clever creations.

This piece, entitled Double Happiness, shows a pair of nesting cranes which often appear in art as the symbol of companionship and happiness in marriage.

These intricately designed birds appear to be flying away from Meadow Lake.

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A Hidden Gem in Marion

During our visit to Marion, Illinois, a couple of weeks ago we decided to take a chance and visit a place called Mandala Gardens.  I had read a brief review of the Gardens on TripAdvisor which sounded promising but the Mandala Gardens website itself mentioned something about calling ahead, and like many of the side-trips that we make, this one was rather spontaneous.  When we got to the privately owned Gardens early in the morning the gates were closed and I gazed longingly through the bars at what looked like an intriguing vista. I was just about to get back in the car when a lady came out of the adjoining house and walked down to greet us.  I explained that our visit was rather a last-minute idea and were sorry to turn up unannounced but she told us that it wasn’t a problem and ushered us in.

You immediately feel the peace and serenity that emanates from this tranquil setting.  Diana Tigerlily (pictured below) and her husband Greg Reid have lived at the property on North State Street for 20 years and during that time have put a lot of effort into making it the lovely place that it is today. Diana kindly allowed us to wander around and enjoy the Gardens and of course I made the most of this great photo opportunity.  For more on Diana and Greg’s story go to ABOUT

There are several interesting structures to explore at the Gardens one of which is The Infinity Arch created by Thea Alvin.

Another feature, also created by Thea Alvin, is Moongate which stands at the end of the pond. Here at the Gardens Diana holds Yoga practice sessions which are named Blue Heron Yoga and just as I was about to walk around the pond the blue heron, for which these sessions are named, flapped lazily away. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot with the camera but luckily the pond and Moongate were still there.

Looking through Moongate you catch a glimpse of the sandstone labyrinth, a quiet place to meditate, or take a walk through the trees just beyond and return to the garden via the bridge. Both the labyrinth and the bridge are the result of Greg and Diana’s hard work.

 

Back among the flowers, there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the various pieces of artwork than can be found at Mandala Gardens, including Talisman, a metal sculpture by Carey Netherton and some delightful little stained-glass windows which are part of the potting shed.

If you are ever in the Marion area of Illinois, I can highly recommend a visit to Manadala Gardens.  Diana was most welcoming and made us feel right at home.

One Word Photo Challenge – Elephant

We’re out looking for elephants for the One Word Photo Challenge set for us by Jennifer Nichole Wells. They’re not easy to find these days, at least not in our neck of the woods. I can’t remember the last time I saw a real live elephant. There hasn’t been one at Brookfield Zoo in who knows how long, although when I spoke to someone who works there, last year, she did say that they were hoping eventually to bring them back to the zoo if and when funds permit.

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One of the last elephants to reside at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois.  I can still remember going for elephant rides at the London Zoo when I was a kid and watching the elephants at the circus, neither of which you can do now, which in some respects, especially from the viewpoint of the elephants, is a good thing. I don’t think I’ll ever be lucky enough to see elephants in their natural surroundings.

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Instead, I must look elsewhere for suitable images, such as these beautifully carved elephant heads at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett, Illinois.

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And this statue of an elephant in Irwin Gardens, Columbus, Indiana.

For more on Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge go to https://jennifernicholewells.com/2017/02/14/one-word-photo-challenge-elephant/

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Yellows

There was no shortage of images featuring yellow for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.  Like red, yellow usually shows up well in pictures and I’m always on the lookout for bright colors.

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These cheeky sunflower faces caught my eye at Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm in South Barrington the other day.

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We visited the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau last week to see their ‘Birds in Art’ exhibit.  This beautiful piece, entitled ‘Lesser Bird-of-Paradise’ (Oil on tupelo), was created by Gary Eigenberger.

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Maybe not quite so artistic but very creative, this pumpkin was decorated for the Scarecrow Trail at Morton Arboretum in Lisle last year.

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Trees showing off their autumn finery at River Trails in Northbrook, Illinois.

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Splendid yellow costumes worn by participants in the American Indian Powwow in Busse Woods this September.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2016/10/11/cees-fun-foto-challenge-yellows/

 

 

The Ribbit Exhibit.

Every year in early spring I love to visit Morton Arboretum to see the gorgeous naturalized daffodils in bloom. This year, as an added bonus, there was an intriguing display of sculptures called The Ribbit Exhibit and since it featured one of my all-time favorite creatures, the frog, I couldn’t resist trying out my new camera and capturing a few images for the picture files.

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These whimsical statues are the work of artist J.A. Cobb and are made from sheets of copper. There are 23 of these delightful characters scattered about the gardens surrounding the visitor center and Meadow Lake.

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This adorable young lady is Sasha. Cobb draws each frog piece on a sheet of copper, then hammers and folds the sheets into shape. Sasha looks as though she’s patiently waiting for her dancing lesson to begin.

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Bentley and Tortuga the turtle in the Children’s Garden. A chemical patina gives the frogs that nice green color.

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Skully looks right at home in Meadow Lake.  There were  plenty of real frogs too, down by the water’s edge. Even the turtles were climbing over each other to check out the Ribbit Exhibit.

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It seems as though once you make eye contact with frogs they stay absolutely still.  I was sitting only a foot or so away from these guys.

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Emerson the caffeinated croaker taking a coffee break and soaking up the sun outside the visitor center. The Ribbit Exhibit is on display through September 25th so hop on over to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, and take a look.

The Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

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On a recent trip to Iowa we were thrilled to discover a new treasure, (new to us, anyway) The Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. What a beautiful place this is! Opening in 1980 the gardens have continued to flourish and now feature such delightful areas as the hosta, English, Japanese, herb and rose gardens to mention but a few.

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They have a wonderful collection of daylilies as well as many other perennials and a colorful display greeted us at every turn.

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I was especially drawn to the English garden, of course, and having arrived at the Gardens early in the morning, we found this secluded spot very peaceful.

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There are more than 1200 hostas thriving in the shady areas of the garden and because slugs like hostas and wrens like slugs there are lots of little wren houses scattered about. These tiny birds seem to have done an excellent job of protecting the plants.

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There are several pieces of artwork in the Gardens, sculptures ranging from whimsical to traditional can be found under the trees and among the flower beds.

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Among the flowers blooming in the Gardens are many gorgeous varieties of roses and some splendid dahlias. And wild flowers have their own special area too.

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And everywhere you look you’ll these little chipmunks dashing about.

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Down by the lake in the Japanese garden we could hear frogs calling to one another and I was rewarded with an excellent opportunity for some quality one-on-one time.

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If you are anywhere near the Dubuque area, and even if you’re not, I can highly recommend a visit to the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. They are an absolute delight and what’s more there is no charge for entry which in this day and age is amazing!

MUM’S ART EXHIBITION

During much of her life, my mother enjoyed knitting and crocheting. She was one of those people who could knit a sweater or whatever while watching the tv, and I think almost everyone in our family received, at one time or another, a gift of her handiwork. She did the most beautiful embroidery and needlepoint and even dabbled in rug-making for a time.

She rarely made anything for herself. I suspect that much of the pleasure she got from these pursuits was in the giving. And of course she was in her element when our three daughters were born. My father once wrote to me, “The knitting needles are out and little booties, shawls and matinee jackets are popping up all over the house!”

Our house is full of reminders of the hours she spent on these crafts, from crocheted doilies and embroidered tablecloths to framed crewelwork on the walls and latch-hook rugs on the floor.

But time has a way of changing things and there came point in her life, when she reached her late eighties, when her eyesight started to fail, due to macular degeneration. It was heartbreaking to see her frustration as she was eventually reduced to knitting scarves, the only thing she could manage without having to look at a pattern and even then, dissatisfied with the result, undoing all her work and redoing it time and time again.

Without her beloved pastime she was bored and miserable. She yearned to do something creative but was shackled by her inability to see properly or even distinguish colors. It was then that I suggested that she try painting.

At first she threw up all kinds of objections.

“I’ve never painted anything in my life! I wouldn’t know where to begin. I wouldn’t be able to tell what colors I was using. It would look awful!!!”

And I argued right back, “It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter if everything’s the wrong color. It doesn’t matter what it looks like or what anyone thinks of it. It’s your work. Your creation. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. You are doing it for your own enjoyment!”

So we went out and bought paints, canvas, and a smock. We already had brushes and an easel as I’d tried my hand at painting a few years earlier. We set everything up in the brightest room in the house and away she went.

She was hesitant at first and kept asking my advice. I set out the colors in groups on the table; blues, greens, warm colors like pinks and reds, so she would have a rough idea of which ones to use. But then I told her, “Your on your own now. This is your work, not mine.”

These last words, somewhat brusque but so well-meant, gave her the kick-start that she needed to throw all caution to the wind. Every morning, after breakfast and the few little chores that she had taken it upon herself to do around the house, she would don her smock, open the paints and get to work. She set to with such ferocious energy that, in the evening, I would have to creep into her ‘studio’ and wipe the paint off of our beautifully finished wood floors and white walls.

The result of her efforts absolutely amazed me!

She was reluctant to receive any praise at first, possibly feeling it unmerited, but I could tell that she was gradually becoming increasingly proud of her work. Whenever we had visitors she would take them into her room to show off her latest piece. She even insisted on taking photos of her artwork to send back home to her few remaining relatives in England. We used to tell her, half-jokingly, that she ought to hold an exhibition.

But, once again, time was against her. Her fingers became arthritic and she could no longer hold the paintbrushes properly. She spent less and less time at the easel until eventually the painting ceased altogether.

When she died in September 2010 they asked me at the funeral home if there were any photos or videos that we would like displayed. Of course we had countless photos and home movie clips but I felt that there could be no more fitting tribute to her indomitable spirit than to display her final works of art. And when the family and friends, who came to bid farewell to her, walked into the chapel they were greeted by a splendid array of portraits; gloriously colored flowers, fruit, garden scenes, clowns, boats and lighthouses. Mum’s art exhibition.