In addition to simply requiring water to survive, many individuals find themselves actually addicted to water - the oceans in particular and all activities involved with it. These people also collect countless books and other media on the subject. So, from serious documentaries to children's books... here are critiques to help you find materials and places that will satisfy your cravings!
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Local Review: Mounts Botanical Gardens & the Washed Ashore Exhibit
I do not
have a green thumb.
to kill an air plant - an air plant. They survive and thrive without
Air plant growing upside down in the test of a sea urchin
invited to join the Master Gardeners, I politely explained that I respected
what they did and it was out of such respect that I chose to steer clear of
their hard work lest I inadvertently destroy their efforts entirely.
husband doesn’t let me water the plants unless it is the middle of the summer
and he is on a 48-hr shift, and we are in the middle of a drought. He actually
has our 8-yr old do it whenever possible instead. The two of them will go
outside and talk to plants like the ever-blooming bleeding-heart vine behind
our house or the cucumber seedlings on the back porch – even the avocado tree
they are growing for me (since I’m
the only one who likes them) gets a pep talk. I am not permitted to speak to
I am the
evil mustache-less twin of the Lorax.
I killed the snapdragon bestowed upon me by the fabulous Farmer Jay (Farmer Jay's Pure Organics). That hurt. His motto is “grow something” and I felt particularly
embarrassed when the plant died. (Incidentally, Farmer Jay’s Ted Talk is very much worth the time too)
does Mounts Botanical Garden, an iconic place with a huge following, get a
sworn “not a plant person” onto the property? Simple. Host a special exhibit
with a connection to the OCEAN. Of course! Why hadn’t they thought of it
before? I’ve been in south Florida for nearly 20 years now and never set foot
on the grounds. I finally realized where it was just in the past 2 years. But I
am not a plant person. I’m a water baby.
also, as you may have read in previous posts, a person who has a penchant for
picking up trash. I present to you the coup de grâce on how to get a beach
person to a land locked garden: host an exhibit of giant sea-inspired statues
crafted entirely out of trash pulled from the surf and sand.
One of my
goals (some people call them resolutions, but I tend to break those pretty
quickly) this year was to try 30 new things. This includes visiting places
buried on my to-do list and over the years I crossed paths with many wonderful
people who volunteer, work or regularly visit Mounts. It was on the list, but
as we have established, I am not a plant person. I needed a push.
did this exhibit inspire me to visit, the magnitude and message were not lost.
I enjoyed the project a great deal and even managed to explore the entire garden
on my own armed with a camera to keep me from touching, and possible placing a
curse on, any of the flora. “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea” is running for
six months – with the exhibit concluding in June 2018 and I highly recommend
giving this moving and intense exhibition your time.
So this is how starfruit grows!
“planted” along the paths throughout the 14 acres of MBG are ten massive
statues, each telling a tale of both sadness and hope. This is just a sample of
artwork from the project, however, as they have a home gallery in Oregon, and
traveling exhibitions currently in Chicago, Washington D.C., and Sarasota.
There really is no excuse not to find visit when it comes to your area, and you
will not likely see works of this magnitude elsewhere.
seen trash-based exhibits before, often at museums or science centers, but
those were usually only one or two marine themed pieces comingled with other
constructs. The Washed Ashore not only has a clear message about plastic in our
oceans, but even the sculptures themselves have a very specific theme based on
their components. One thing that struck me in particular – the use of color
without the use of paint. All the colors and textures you see in these statues
are intentional and still true to their former life as a piece of flotsam.
took place on a cloudy weekday, and even then, the basic parking lot was full.
There was a workshop going on for actual plant people, and combined with the
guests walking in I chose to take my map and go through the gardens in reverse.
In respect to the works and direction in which the items were actually placed,
however, here is the special exhibition for you to enjoy. Know that these
photos in no way do the statues justice as they are huge and, in some cases, downright
Sea Star is based on items leftover from Independence Day celebrations in
America. The marine biologist in me must point out and give a heartfelt thank
you to the artist for not calling it a ‘starfish’.
I was particularly disturbed by the shotgun shells. Not exactly expected marine debris.
Debris Anemone focuses on single-use plastic bottles, but I found the most
moving part of the work the use of color derived from unwound sections of rope
the Parrot Fish, while colorful and apparently a poster child in many of the
articles and media posts I have seen, was not my favorite piece in this
collection. The items are bit more random and did not have the same intensity
as images such as the Sea Star.
James the Puffin shares a sobering quality with its real-life counterpart, the
statue has a comical quality and an inquisitive expression. Puffins were the
creatures behind the creation of the 'porg' species in the most recent Star Wars
installation, and the quirky little birds are prone to exploring trash in
search of food scraps, and are particularly susceptible to ingesting plastic.
My favorite detail of this particular piece was the hook at the edge of the
beak. Despite it being much longer than on the actual birds, and more so like
that of a raptor’s beak, it still captures the animal’s nature and not just the
Humpback Whale Tail / Hugo the Humpback Whale Tail
of sculptures showcases the research done by the artist, making a point of
differentiating the Pacific humpback from the Atlantic whales. In reality this
species has benefitted greatly from conservation efforts over the years, but
personally I cannot help but attribute some of the interest and support in
humpbacks back to Star Trek IV and
the plight of “Gracie” and “George” – mostly because that movie inspired me, an
8-yr old land-locked kid living in the Midwest – to learn and appreciate marine
life for the first time.
Seaweed is meant to be an interactive exhibit, but during my time instead the
sky was filled with the roar of planes landing at the airport nearby. It was
the first time I truly noticed the noise, but am reminded how creating
beautiful spaces in areas that many people would not wish to live is
exceptional strategic planning. The areas in and around airports are great for
natural areas and in this case, an amazing garden.
I fell in
love with the statue from a distance and was not disappointed up close. It was
placed off the paved pathway, up on a little knoll. There was no resisting the
opportunity to lie down in the grass and look up to the sky through the waving
tentacles of plastic. This massive reminder speaks of the plastic bags
resembling jellies in the ocean – confusing the living dinosaurs (in this case
sea turtles) of what is food and what is dangerous.
fish is constructed from reflective materials such as sunglasses and beer cans.
Check out those choppers! Some people are able to stare at a piece of art and 'see' things within the picture such as sadness, faces, or ghost-like apparitions buried within the image. What I love about this exhibit is how it doesn't matter if you are a big fan of the arts, or even over the age of five, you can still find so many things within each of these pieces. You can observe tactile metaphors and see the reincarnated spirits of old shoes repurposed as the original builders never imagined.
Seal has a significant portion of the structure being provided by various lids
of items, hence the name Lid-ia. I am
always a fan of a good pun, but found this sculpture personally more disturbing
that many of the others. The irony behind the ‘smile’ will haunt my dreams for some time.
this special exhibition drew me in, I was still compelled to explore the entirety
of the grounds and gift shop. Some of the flora enjoyed throughout the gardens
were familiar let lacked nomenclature, and I was glad to have adequate signage
without it distracting from taking photos. There were plenty of guests in the
area, but it was not difficult to find solitude amongst the leaves. The layout
of the gardens lends itself to reflection, and the volunteers/staff were not
invasive. One can be engrossed in the vegetation, or simply a temporary
For those who love plants, this is a must visit.
For those who want to feel peaceful, Mounts Botanical is a great option. For
others who wish to learn more about the greener side of life, MBG offers a
variety of classes and workshops. Visit them directly for more information at: Mounts Botanical Garden.
Let’s take the time to give attention to the project that created these
inspiring pieces that travel the world, spreading the message of Art to Save
the Sea. Be sure to check out Washed Ashore for
details and the locations of other exhibits currently traveling around the
it takes to hook you into trying something new, keep an exploring eye out as
there could be great new experiences waiting to inspire!