Moving through May

Between plant sales, cold and rainy weather, a new garden sculpture, and preparations for some friends’ annual visit to my garden, I’ve not had time to post in my blog. I figured I’d better post something before too many good photos built up on my computer!

I hope to have a grand reveal of my new sculpture sometime soon, but there’s still lots of work for me to do on it. Here’s a teaser:

The honeysuckles have been blooming and blooming and blooming. It’s a treat to work outside because I get to smell them. And they were spectacular in the cold rain a few weekends ago. Plus, I was working on my sculpture and I caught a glimpse of a hummingbird drinking from them. That’s so much better than the feeder I tried last year and never could quite keep fresh enough!

And there are other blooms in the back garden and in the garden on the east side of the house. It’s not blooming yet, but this year I added plants on the west side of the house as well. All came from the Master Gardener’s plant sale at the beginning of May. Actually, some had come from last year’s plant sale and then waited in pots because of all our roof troubles last summer.

At this point, I’m pretty well out of spaces for plants, so maybe I need not to go to the sale next year. But it’s so much fun to admire and choose from so many plants!

I had oodles of rose breasted grosbeaks when everyone else in Evansville was inundated with them, the hawks are still around somewhere, I spotted a prothonotary warbler in my neighbor’s trees, a family of wrens is trilling about the back yard as are a cardinal couple and a family of downy woodpeckers, and every morning for at least a week I’ve heard a Swainson’s thrush trilling in the background. I think I’ve even seen it a time or two.

And finally, The Ladies continue to delight. Ygraine is sweet and floofy and she will sit at the back door all day if I give her the opportunity. She loves watching the outdoors but seems pleased with her life of luxury indoors. Meanwhile, Morgaine is sassy and dreams of taking over the world. One day John caught her studying my cordless drills and a mini butane torch as if she was plotting something. She likes to sit on the front table to watch the outdoors through glass, and when she sees us approach, she stands up and inadvertently sticks her head inside the lamp sitting there with her. It’s funny. She looks like a party girl with a lamp shade on her head.

The Geode Grotto

While Jane and I were in Jasper for our art show, we took the opportunity to appreciate a wonderfully odd but beautiful outsider art environment there. It was like old times on our epic Grand Canyon Project, but closer to home. I’d read about it in travel guides describing Indiana’s odder sights, but hadn’t anticipated how large and really cool it would be. You can read a pretty in-depth history of the Geode Grotto here.

If you want to find it, it’s in Jasper, Indiana back behind St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

St. Joseph's Church

Go past the cemetery and around the corner and you’ll be greeted by saints. The scale was impressive and difficult to capture with a camera.

the saints

After the saints, you walked a path lined with smaller shrines. Each was on its own intricate geode pillar decorated with seashells and Indiana geodes of impressive size.

Station of the cross

The geodes were impressive and beautiful (especially with a little henbit growing on them).

geode close up

Then you got to the grotto itself…




Across the way, you could find St. Joseph holding Jesus and facing a cemetery. I ran over to check him out, but we were late for lunch so I didn’t get to admire for long. Again, the scale of it is impressive.

approach to Jesus  Jesus

geode railing

The Famous and the Obscure Art of My Neighborhood

There’s a lot of art in my neighborhood. Some is easy to find, but some of my favorites are in surprising locations. Take the giant dragonfly on Washington Avenue, for instance.

What? You’ve never seen it? Me either until I started talking to a couple who were harvesting produce in Patchwork’s garden. They told me they live in the house with the giant dragonfly on the tree out front. I didn’t remember ever seeing it, but the next day I looked and there it was–a giant dragonfly on a tree!

How could I have missed it? Pretty cool!

There’s also the sculpture garden next to Billy and Tom’s house that I’ve written about before and all of the great art around Patchwork including a new “Driftwood Orb” created by kids this summer during our sculpture weeks. It’s in Patchwork’s little side park and looks great in the natural setting.

Then there’s my friend Jane’s back yard. It’s a fabulous piece of art.

For many years now, Jane and I have inspired each other. We like similar things–cool trash, found objects, yoghurt containers full of old twist ties–but use them in completely different ways. My art is more restrained and hers is more over the top. We balance each other out.

Both of us admire the work of outsider artists. Jane’s yard comes closer to achieving the look than I will ever accomplish.

Jane started with a whole collection of liquor bottles and frustration that her neighbors were drinking the contents and tossing the trash into the empty lot next to her. She filled some up with colored liquid, hung some from her tree, and had the start of an art yard. It’s difficult to fully capture the environment in photos.

Some gardens have Chihuly. Jane’s has something more original.

There was a great little ceramic skeleton sitting on the pink watering can, but he’d fallen off the day I came with my camera. I’ll have to catch him next time.

Of course, there’s also the official art of the neighborhood–the stuff that other people in Evansville (and beyond) have actually heard of–the Sculpt EVV sculptures. Sculpt EVV is an outdoor art exhibit on display in Haynie’s Corner. The sculptures are arranged on a bunch of lots left empty after all the recent demolitions of houses in our neighborhood.

It’s fun to have all the art in the neighborhood and there’s even a second year planned. It was a good resource for the kids at Patchwork during sculpture weeks. They were impressed enough with the art that several of them pulled out their camera phones to document it. My favorite is called Best of All Possible Worlds and was created by Saul Melman.

It was the piece in the show that seemed to respond to the actual setting the best. It seems to acknowledge that it is installed in an older neighborhood among Victorian houses and on a large, empty lot where several houses once stood and it speaks to the strange voids that these empty lots are (like the giant one behind my house), the history of what was there, and the hope for the future. It also seemed to fit the size of the lot it was on by making the negative space around it part of the piece, not just a lot of empty space in which the art got lost. And, it sounds like its neighbors were having fun interacting with it. One day Jane saw a rolled newspaper left on its stoop. In newspaper coverage of it, someone said that they’d found a sticky note attached to the door that was addressed to a fictitious homeowner and asked her why she was never home.

I would love to see a whole show in which the art was site-specific like this. I would love to see artists’ reflections on this particular place–not just shapes and forms plopped onto a  concrete pad at the edge of some random green space.

Unfortunately Best of All Possible Worlds was vandalized a couple weeks ago and is out for repairs.

Other Sculpt EVV art will be on display until next spring and it’s a fun little tour to take by bike or on foot to see them all.