Make Garden [11.22.2014 - 01.10.2015]

Featuring: John Balsley, Sean Connaughty, Elizabeth Garvey, John Ilg, Judy Onofrio, John Schuerman, Lynn Speaker, and Michon Weeks

Exhibition Run: November 22, 2014 - January 10, 2015

Opening Reception: Saturday, November 22, 6-8pm

To see the garden in ways we’ve not seen it before. That is the goal of Make Garden.  Artists have a way of twisting things, relating things that are not normally related, exaggerating things that don’t need exaggeration. The artists in this exhibition have gone back and forth between their gardens and studios to create strange organic expressions that can inform life.  This is the Avant-garden. The garden unpredicted. 

Gardening and art-making are very human activities.  Gardens are natural, but the human hand is heavy. We tear out the weeds, disrupt the soil, mix in the pig shit. Plants are organized, spaced apart, watered, staked up, and picked clean of their edible parts. Uprooted and composted back in.  Paradoxically, gardening puts us in touch with the natural order while we alter it.  We are scientists, farmers, artists. We are ultimately human in this act, as in art. Gardens are a saving grace, a way to be human without separating from nature. 

Gardens teach, artists reach. Together they Make Garden.

The Artists:

Judy Onofrio pieces things together: animals, gods, mythic creatures, abstractions, and the most beautiful plants. For Make Garden, she has excavated bones, meticulously cleaned them to shiny white, and connected them into spirals and other organic forms, and to steal a Bob Dylan phrase, created the ‘mystic garden’.  A garden where we can experience absorption into the absolute and where only the spirit can comprehend, not the intellect.

Elizabeth Garvey dislocates natural elements and places them into everyday human work –and vice-versa.  She unlocks the mud in the garden. She loads a copier with a garden trowel.

Sean Connaughty is a mad scientist, building little orbs to preserve life on earth –maybe our species, maybe just the miniature gardens inside them. His orbs are self-contained terrariums that never need watering or pruning or planting. The little biospheres are self-sustaining if left to float just below the surface of the water. Miniature cameras provide video feeds.  Together, it all looks like a crazy spaceship run by algae.

Lynn Speaker is known for her gunpowder-burned images of natural materials, but for this exhibition she is showing arrangements of stones gathered from the north shore of Lake Superior. Her conversation with the land and its materials is a simple but ancient human activity.  Stone is used to mark time because it outlives us and appears timeless to our mortal eyes. We use stone to mark our place and to remember others by marking their absence. We look to stones for power and access to spiritual realms.

John Balsley builds intricate paper collages in both 2 and 3D.  His garden mythologies seem to show the humans completely overcome by the gardens they so carefully nurtured.  It all has become something else. A vibrant, colorful nightmare perhaps.

John Schuerman works on the lines that distinguish man from nature and wonders, if it is so, what makes it so? He draws out our entanglement. Language, metrics, and mark-making mixed up with weeds and stones and seeds.

John Ilg iterates common but heavily symbolic objects into new patterns.  For Make Garden he has arranged butterflies according to the color tone in their wings.

Michon Weeks draws common plants and objects and connects them to seemingly disparate texts, designs or color palettes of historical reference. 

A selection of pieces and gallery shots: