For as long as people have been gardening, they have incorporated art into their landscapes. Whether that’s a sculpture, a birdbath or even a scarecrow, the objects we place in our gardens serve a purpose — even if that purpose is only to inspire. Sometimes it’s a piece of art that inspires the garden, the garden that inspires the art, or something different altogether.
This year at the Berkshire Botanical Garden we’re featuring the exhibit “Windswept: The Garden Celebrates the Beauty of Wind,” consisting of objects and art inspired by the wind. It’s an exhibit that is filled with surprises—from the traditional to the unexpected—and features art by world-renowned, superstar artists as well as some of the Garden’s very own stellar staff.
What makes an exhibit like this so unique is that it’s always changing. Not only are pieces like Jeff Kahn’s Wind Shear constantly in motion, but the gardens themselves are different from one moment to the next. Positioning a piece like Tim Prentice’s classic Yellow Zinger [shown above] in a setting as familiar as a woodland path makes you look at the trees in a brand new light. These pieces give life to what you can’t see and demonstrate the movement of an invisible force.
One of the main successes or failures with art in the garden (and I use the terms success and failure very broadly; with gardening and with art, those are both very personal measures) is how those pieces are placed. For example, when we started looking for the perfect spot for a collection of antique weathervanes, we tried several different locations. It wasn’t until we took a step back and looked at the story the pieces were trying to tell us that we knew where they belonged, and it was in a place that we wouldn’t have expected they’d fit. The result is a fun play on the pieces as a collection.
When we finished putting this collection up, I think everyone here felt that “fun” was at the heart of it. Yes, it’s beautiful and yes, it captures the theme, but you can’t walk past Suzanne Heilmann’sMemorialized in White[shown left], or pass a tree filled with a hundred little wind chimes without feeling an essence of playfulness. When you have a subject like wind, there are a lot of different directions an exhibit could go in (literally!). Wind can be destructive, cold, noisy, productive, gentle — and yet somehow we arrived at “playful.” It was completely unintentional but welcomed and effective nonetheless.
The show was curated by Gregg and Natalie Randall, owners of R.T. Facts, an antiques and design center in Kent, CT. If you make a trip to their shop (based out of the old Kent Town Hall) you’ll immediately see how such an eclectic array of art and objects ended up at the Berkshire Botanical Garden.
Windswept: The Garden Celebrates the Beauty of Wind will be on display through October 1. Free with Garden admission.