This week, Amy has chosen Layered as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden yesterday where they were preparing for Night of 1,000 Jack-O’-Lanterns. Peel away the layers of a pumpkin and what do you get? Scroll down to see the result.
Having spent countless hours with the grandchildren, over the years, trying to make anything remotely recognizable out of Lego, I can appreciate how much work went into creating the more than 40 life-size creatures that featured in Brookfield Zoo’s Brick Safari this summer.
Do these creations qualify as sculptures? I’m not sure, but they are certainly works of art.
The resulting photos have the rather weird effect of looking over-pixelated ( if that’s the correct term.)
One of my favorites was Lance the Leopard who required 42,500 bricks and 340 hours to complete.
It took 375 hours and 110,000 bricks to make Grace the Giraffe who weighs in at 1,652 pounds. That’s a lot of Lego!
The rhinoceros took 155,000 bricks and 403 hours to complete, while Eli the Elk took a mere 87,464 bricks.
The grizzly bears were quite impressive, taking 136,569 bricks and 382 hours to build. They looked quite at home in this woodland setting.
I’m not sure who worked on these amazing pieces but all I can say is, “Well done!”
It was a gloriously warm, sunny day at the end of summer when we went in search of Trolls at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. These trolls weren’t the nasty kind that invade the internet but the ones that hide in the woods. As you will see, we found six of them and saw some other interesting sights along the way.
It would appear that these trolls are not exactly friendly creatures as we soon realized when we came across this car crushed beneath a huge boulder. The perpetrator, a character named Rocky Bardur, was standing just a few yards away.
We came across a whole host of monarch butterflies among the flowers outside the visitor center after which we managed to creep up on troll number two, Sneaky Socks Alexa, who was waiting to spring a deadly trap.
Further along the path, a heron seemed to be pointing the way to Joe the Guardian who was standing on a hill overlooking the expressway.
I must say that going on this Troll Hunt encouraged us to take paths that we have never trodden before, giving us the opportunity to see familiar scenes from a different perspective.
I’m not sure if troll number four found us or we found her. Furry Ema certainly looked like she was up to no good.
Walking across Daffodil Glade, we saw a tree that looked as though a troll had breathed on it. And it wasn’t too long before we came across number five, Niels Bragger, lurking in the woods.
Little Arturs was easy to spot. He was taking a break in Bobolink Meadow. These 15 to 60 foot giants were created from recycled wood by Danish artist Thomas Dambo, and he has done a fantastic job! The Arboretum hopes to keep them on display through to 2019 depending on how they weather. It will be interesting to see how they stand up to a Chicago-style winter..
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.
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.
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.
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.
Instead, I must look elsewhere for suitable images, such as these beautifully carved elephant heads at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett, Illinois.
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/
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.
These cheeky sunflower faces caught my eye at Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm in South Barrington the other day.
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.
Maybe not quite so artistic but very creative, this pumpkin was decorated for the Scarecrow Trail at Morton Arboretum in Lisle last year.
Trees showing off their autumn finery at River Trails in Northbrook, Illinois.
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/
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.
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.
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.
Bentley and Tortuga the turtle in the Children’s Garden. A chemical patina gives the frogs that nice green color.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They have a wonderful collection of daylilies as well as many other perennials and a colorful display greeted us at every turn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And everywhere you look you’ll these little chipmunks dashing about.
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.
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!