Framingham, Massachusetts-- New England Wild Flower Society celebrates the 75th year of its living museum, Garden in the Woods With the Garden and its premier collection of 1,500 North American wildflower species as the medium and the artist's eye of famed landscape architect and environmental artist W. Gary Smith, the Society marks the anniversary of this beloved living museum with a spectacular site-specific art installation. From May 19 through October 31, 2007, take a walk on the WILD side with ART GOES WILD: Innovation with Native Plants, on exhibit at the convergence of environmental art and native plant horticulture. The show features eleven "destination gardens" within the 45 acres of Garden in the Woods itself and promises to be the most important show of the decade for revealing the future of nature-based fine art, and livable landscapes for all. With CLIMATE CHANGE facing us, combining art with the ethics of lightening our footprint in our own landscapes gives a special resonance to the idea of environmental art.
The Society is proud to host the first major public installation in New England of the work of W. Gary Smith, perhaps the most significant garden designer in the country today, specializing in native plantings. Smith's award-winning works include sites at Peirce's Woods at Longwood Gardens, Winterthur Gardens in Delaware and Calloway Gardens in Georgia, and public and private gardens nationwide. The Garden is not compromised by Smith's sometimes dramatic, sometimes subtle "visual riffs," but rather is elevated in the 75th anniversary tribute to "a magical place," as the artist describes the naturalistic garden started by Will Curtis in 1932. The fresh exhibition honors the greatness of the past, while offering an entrÃˆe into an entirely different time scale as the exhibit itself changes with the light and plant palette through the seasons. "This is a much more challenging art form than many, dealing with light and texture, serendipity and the changing aspects of nature." Smith continues, "Ecosystems are much more complex than anyone can recreate-they are going to surprise you. The plants themselves will be beautiful, unlike what happens with much nature-based fine art, where the artists may not understand what plants need to thrive. With New England Wild Flower Society the native plants selected will be grown beautifully, and very well suited to the various sculptural expressions. The plants are as much part of the excitement and exuberance of the exhibition as the artistic elements."
"ART GOES WILD" challenges us to review our pre-conceptions about native plant design. Says Smith, "No one does highly designed work with native plants today. The majority of people using these plant materials have been focusing on restoration or naturalistic design."
Inspired by the formal abstract elements each plant presents, "ART GOES WILD" invites us to change our thinking about using native plants in highly ORNAMENTAL ways - a concept as innovative now as Garden in the Woods creator Will Curtis' naturalistic landscaping was in the 1930's. "ART GOES WILD" invites us all to consider design where the primary purpose is to be interesting as a work of art, while still honoring ecological considerations. In sharp contrast with naturalistic garden design of the twentieth century, "ART GOES WILD" emphasizes the mark of the human intervention and the sensibility of the artist.
"An artist's way of engaging is very different from a garden designer or an ecologist," says Smith, who doesn't initiate his projects as most landscape architects do, with budgets, programs, and directives. He first draws what is right in front of him, without pre-thinking. Soon a sense of order or structure emerges-and that is where the eleven "destination gardens" of the exhibit derive their inspiration. Rather than trying to fit the environment to suit his designs, Smith is known for reading the land and ecosystems and fitting his designs to the environment, highlighting the particular beauty inherent in the location, and then tuning into the unique qualities of that location. He creates playful, fun, and special environments.
The exhibit features installations in the context of a large-scale public garden space, yet the aim of the exhibit is to showcase ideas that are specifically designed for easy adaptation to the scale of the home garden and smaller art installations. Demonstrations for gardeners, families, artists, and the general public are included in programming from May 18 through October 31. "ART GOES WILD" event highlights include THE ART OF LIVABLE LANDSCAPES symposium with Rick Darke and W. Gary Smith, Gardeners Day, Meadow Madness-at the peak of the meadow bloom period, Fall Family Festival, and a Twilight Performing Arts Series.
"ART GOES WILD: Innovation with Native Plants" is an exciting preview of the NEXT glorious 75 years. New England Wild Flower Society, Garden in the Woods, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, MA. 508-877-7630. Visit www.newenglandWILD.org Cart tours for mobility assistance, and group tours may be scheduled with Bonnie Drexler at bdrexler [at] newenglandWILD [dot] org or x 3501. Garden Trails and Museum Store Hours: April 14-August 31: Open daily 9-7; September 1-October 31, Open daily 9-5. Informal tours weekdays at 10 a.m. and weekends at 2:00 p.m. included with admission, no reservations required. Adults $7; Seniors& Students $5; Youths 6-18 $3; Members and children 5 and under FREE. New England Wild Flower Society offers the nation's largest public native plant school. Memberships and purchases support the award-winning conservation programs of the Society.