an experimental space where art and life co-mingle in the service of community, sustainability, and agriculture.
Garden Redux visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York last week as part of MoMA Studio: Common Senses, The Mildred Complex(ity).
We presented handbills of our familyfesto, which were read and distributed on the hour every hour.
People of all ages came by and engaged with us, while everyone enjoyed the beautiful installation of a Mildred’s Lane interior. Many thanks to Lizzie and Jack who oversee the installation every day during the show, and to the entire education department of MoMA who made it happen.
Natalie did the readings every hour, and Daniel and I passed out the letterpress prints to whoever wanted one. It was really great day. Thanks to all who joined us!
Garden Redux is all a-flutter over our work with Boxcar Press on the Garden Redux Familyfesto Broadside which will be included in the MoMA Studio: Common Senses exhibition tomorrow. Here is printer Jimmy Gahan working on the Heidelberg Press at Boxcar. We just received the finished prints in the mail today and they are (I must say) full of the gorgeous letterpress sensuality and graphic power that we were hoping for. Well done Boxcar! Hooray for Jimmy, and Lindsy Aragona, our designer at Boxcar. It was a pleasure collaborating with you both!
Today is the first day of Autumn. The vegetable and flower plants in the garden are living out their remaining days before frost. The vegetables and flowers keep coming, though maybe a little slower, and from plants that do not look as full of vigor as they did a month ago. Biologically, the plants have produced their seeds and if I were keeping seeds as humans have done for millennium I would have the genetic results of this year’s harvest safely stored away for next year’s new crop.
Listen to artist Claire Pentecost who in the space of approximately one minute eloquently sums up what seeds mean to humans and how seeds represent our “longest running open source knowledge system.”
Video courtesy of dOCUMENTA.
The weather this summer was almost ideal gardening weather. The rain would come. There was a lot of sun. We did not know what to expect after such a wacko fall (too stormy, too many freak incidents) and strange winter (too mild.)
And yet in early June all was well, with a first blush of ripeness on the cherry tomatoes, squash in miniature, carrots establishing their fringey hair, cucumbers growing up the fence and eggplant sending out purple origami flowers.
Bouquet Garni and Potpouri Sachets
In June and July I made some useful items from the harvest. First, I created bouquet garni to add to soups and stews. These were inspired by a day that I was trimming the thyme border around the herb garden and I wanted to preserve some of the thyme clippings for later use. I took thyme, sage, rosemary and tarragon and tied them up with lemon grass for some flavor packed savory bundles. Later in the summer I was cleaning out some old drawers and wanted to place something in them to freshen them up. I made some sachets with lavender, rose-scented geranium, and lemon verbena. Here it is September and they still smell really nice.
In early June we hosted my daughter Naomi’s birthmom and her family for a visit to Connecticut. Naomi’s stepsisters enjoyed the opportunity to pick their salad at dinner time. This is the lettuce that Natalie and Daniel had planted during their spring vacation back in April. The lettuce was our first attempt to start vegetables before frost was done in a cold frame. The cold frame lettuce beds were the perfect child-sized salad gardens. It was fun to see these two go at it for the harvest.
May brought a new Garden Redux art endeavor: “Patch: Hartford Food Security” is a work I did for a pop up exhibition curated by Dave Borowski in Hartford. In this installation Garden Redux Mobile Studio photo-documentation books were exhibited alongside new sewn collages and a map of 13 Hartford Community Gardens.
The sewn collages were made of billboard vinyl and scraps of cloth. On my mind were the many ways gardens provide mending for us all. We call a garden a vegetable patch and we are thinking of a patch of land, but in many ways it is also a patch that holds our over-industrialized lives together in an effort to reinstate wholeness.
I also wanted to create a project that would make more visible one of Hartford’s greatest neighborhood assets: the capital’s network of community gardens. Along the way I got to meet the mayor, Pedro Segarro!
May marked the second season of our Garden Redux vegetable patch. Readers who have been tracking our progress will remember that the garden was a 2011 mother’s day present from my family, and literally began with a truckload of compost from our town’s composting program, and a weekend of work from my kids and husband.
Although it is now September 2012 (and I am backtracking to recap 2012 summer garden redux highlights) I can barely remember what it was like to NOT have a vegetable garden. This is how deeply it has found its way into the various routines and aspects of my life. Morning? Go sit in the garden with a cuppa. Yank a few weeds while thinking about the day ahead. Dinner: dash out to clip some herbs for a salad or take in a crop of various vegetables for a stir fry. Seeing someone who might appreciate some garden vegetables? Do a quick harvest on the way to a meeting. Evening after a long day, maybe sit on the garden bench as the sun sets.
Reading this I realize this is an idealized snapshot. Sometimes the garden is completely neglected, and I return to a parched, weedy and chaotic place. Some mornings I woke up to discover disease or pests (or both!) had trounced my hopes of a certain delicacy I had been nurturing along for months. Or a squirrel had picked a tomato, gnawed a big hole out of it, then devilishly placed it for me to find right in the middle of my garden bench.
And yet… The dirt has a spell on me and I keep coming back with a fist full of seeds, a fantasy of abundant harvest in my mammal brain, and a desire to sit still on a patch of earth for a moment to feel a connection to the Planet that I can forget in my over-busy pace of life.
Today is the first Sunday in May and three of us spent most of the day tending the garden. We started the day with the garden looking like an impressionist blur of soft yellows and creams: the yellow flowers of several kale hedges gone to seed, and butter colored arugula flowers that had “rocketed”. After a while the garden took on the character of the early spring vegetable plot. A transitional space of possibility.
Natalie weeded the center herb garden while Daniel took out last year’s kale and turned the soil, adding in worm casings.
The volunteers, and the perennials! Cilantro, lettuce, kale, spring onions, bok choi, and sorrel (among other plants) greeted me this spring and allowed me to feed my family fresh greens in spite of not getting ANY gardening done until this weekend. The abundant garden has been kind to me!
These are some scenes from last October, when we had a freak snowstorm while the trees still had their leaves. Limbs crashed down, power and heat was lost from our street for eleven days. In light of this, the rejuvenation of spring seems extra sweet. I heard on the radio last week that most people in the US have now had a climate event affect their lives that they attribute to global warming. Between Tropical Storm Irene in September, the October “snowpocalypse,” and then the winter that never came … 2011-2012 has been a very strange climate year.