The Exquisite Garden Project

 "if you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea..."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, from the Little Prince

The Wonder Project 2015

The WONDER PROJECT emerged from our desire to experience some community outreach work. We Gardeners believe that we should share the fun we have in creating wonderments with everyone. Joe B. recalled the concrete poetry movement of the late 60's and early 70's, wherein the size and shape of the letterforms in poetry had as much to do with content as the word, or words themselves.Viola! Jeff H. and Tim K. and Joe worked on creating huge letters that are sculpture as well as content -evocative...WONDER was the word chosen after much discussion by the more literary-minded of the Exquisite Gardeners...Deepa J. put in the most input, and WONDER won out! Then all the logistics of building, storing, and delivery came down the pike..but, bottom line, we had a great time, especially with the kids, who never miss an opportunity to play in the paint!

Images showing the raw letters transitioning to primed letters and volunteers who have really gotten into their work.

Installation at Museum Craft and Design, San Francisco 2014

'Lexi B. striking her rock star pose...in front of the amazing 1930 Chevy truck we borrowed from the ranch she lives on , Boeger Winery.

'Lexi B. striking her rock star pose...in front of the amazing 1930 Chevy truck we borrowed from the ranch she lives on , Boeger Winery.

Merryll S. and Sam D. with treasures soon to be placed SOMEWHERE in the installation.

Merryll S. and Sam D. with treasures soon to be placed SOMEWHERE in the installation.

An improvisational sculpture install by yours truly and Don G.

An improvisational sculpture install by yours truly and Don G.

Old school hand sign painter Don G. working on Gardener Will B.'s shed installation.

Old school hand sign painter Don G. working on Gardener Will B.'s shed installation.

New Gardener Deepa J. pausing from toiling away producing gorgeous drawings of our installation work.

New Gardener Deepa J. pausing from toiling away producing gorgeous drawings of our installation work.

Exquisite Gardener's Beth Mullins in Sunset magazine!

Greetings all EG followers! Wanted to share with you a coup by Exquisite Gardener Beth Mullins, who got awarded the honor of making a "model" garden for the Sunset magazine's once a year Wine and Garden gala at the Sunset magazine headquarters in Northern California. Sunset then published the chosen gardens for the Fall issue of the magazine. I have included the page below. As some may know, Beth is a talented artist and the only one of our collective who is also an actual landscape designer..a REAL Gardener, not just a metaphorical one! Beth also has a PHD in Microbiology, which I am assuming helps with the plant Latin terms? Anyway, congratulations to Beth.

Here is the Sunset magazine spread….

Here is the Sunset magazine spread….

Meet an Original Exquisite Gardener : Jeff Hvid

Jeff Hvid was there when it all began in 2009, and has been a solid contributing member ever since. I call Jeff the Thoreau of Marin County, California, because he loves the natural world here more than anybody.

For 30 years or so Jeff has been , on his own time, with no recognition, been cleaning the creeksides and shorelines of this County. He started piling up the stuff he dragged up the hills onto the road into "art" because he didn't want folks adding their own junk to the pile before he could get back to pick it up.

I have followed Jeff down to creek bottoms and seen his installations of old wood and shoes etc., artfully arranged around the often- seen graffiti at bridges and overpasses here in the County. It was like encountering a magical place where the junk just got up and arranged itself into art. Before I saw these, I don't think anybody else had.

Jeff knows the flowers, plants, birds and animals here like nobody. To hear his stories of seeing a mama otter swimming with her kits in the creek, while above on the sidewalks people stroll on unaware is mesmerizing. I have seen a hidden world right here in our County by hanging out with Jeff.

Jeff has been making purposeful art with the things he finds for quite a few years now, and they are amazing pieces, left as much as possible as is, with some gentle nudging by Jeff. These are artworks of beauty and respect, and truly original in a way that few can claim. His work can be seen at the Fairfax , CA. gallery, The Mine. ( www.gallerymine.com )

Below is a typical Jeff Hvid piece.It is made from a shore-scavenged boat seat part, with discarded Bic lighters that Jeff cleans up after the fisherman who use them leave.They are wired onto the wood frame with scavenged wire, and this piece shines like a stained glass window in the light. There is much Museum shown "fine art" that aspires to this level of respect for materials and social good at the same time, but few are as unself- conscious as this piece.

Jeff hvid art

And grows…and grows...

Sid and Suhas working up a sweat

Sid and Suhas working up a sweat

MaryLee and Suhas having good times with junk!

Don G and the famous Tim W. looking pleased.

Gardener Terry B. at work.

Multi media guru Gardener Elia V. at a rare still moment

A sidelong view of the very Rauschenburgian improvisational wall piece headed up by Holden C., with assistance from Guy.M., Merryll S., and Suhas and Sid

Showing the results of Exquisite Garden intensity.

Another nests grows here..

A nice view of Gardener Deepa J.'s superlative drawing/paintings...we love her addition to the Gardeners!

A nice view of Gardener Deepa J.'s superlative drawing/paintings...we love her addition to the Gardeners!

 Autobiographical panels that the Gardeners and Museum staff did to achieve mingled destinies

 Autobiographical panels that the Gardeners and Museum staff did to achieve mingled destinies

a view of Guy M.'d very popular kinetic monkey machine

a view of Guy M.'d very popular kinetic monkey machine

An arty view of the insane gnarly NEST made of wood molding trimmings I got from a cabinet shop..with the gold leafed chair captured inside ...Gardeners 'lexi B, and Benva went insane on this structure. Beth M., Holden C., Tim W. and probably others helped out on this raw creative wonderment. How we are going to dismantle it and get out of the Museum I have no idea!!!!!!! ( Termites?)

An arty view of the insane gnarly NEST made of wood molding trimmings I got from a cabinet shop..with the gold leafed chair captured inside ...Gardeners 'lexi B, and Benva went insane on this structure. Beth M., Holden C., Tim W. and probably others helped out on this raw creative wonderment. How we are going to dismantle it and get out of the Museum I have no idea!!!!!!! ( Termites?)

The Garden grows!

Here we are at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco making Magic happen ! This is a nest structure that has morphed shape a couple times... We are on our fourth day of creation and it is good!!!!

The Exquisite Gardeners Guy and Holden discussing vital stuff

 Kim contemplating the NEST.

Gardener Will working on his composition.

a view past the Chevy flatbed toward Deepa and Benva.

It begins again...

We are building another nest , but our own design this time.  Using grapevine cuttings and manzanita from the Boeger Winery, which is clearing land for new vineyards, and is in pruning season. Gardener Lexi B. is the source for this. We are also getting a 1920's Willys / Knight touring car in patinated disrepair from them for our Garden....

The Nest Survives!

Here is a picture of Gardener Joe B. and Mike, who keeps a watchful eye on all the goings on at Linden Street and Campovida, site of our NEST project. Rumor has it that Mike likes to carve wood...Joe gave him some carving tools and wood...of course with ulterior motives...Mike will surely be asked to join the Gardeners next Bay Area event!

 

Joe and Mike

Joe and Mike

The responses to our NEST project were many and varied, here is one of our favorites, validating our view that when the Exquisite Gardeners get to work , magic happens...

I just stumbled upon the nest in West Oakland on Linden Street. I cannot express what it was that I felt walking through it. I think the work that has been done is beyond words and extremely incredible. It touches on something much different than regular interaction with an object or site that I often have. Thank you.
— Deborah

The Gardeners have a mascot!

Shouldn't every Collaborative Art Installation Team have a mascot..football teams do, right? Conveniently, Joe's daughter Kate has a charismatic French Bulldog named Rocky. Rocky has a toy built from a special piece of Exquisite Gardener's trove of exquisite junk..an old metal jug. Joe figured Rocky likes noise and challenge, so a rope and the jug create the perfect Rockymania event. Hope the Gardeners don't mind this sacrifice of an awesome piece of junk. If you get lucky you might see Rocky at the next Exquisite Gardeners' event!

Sketching it out

I am thinking about logistics now and sent this message to the Gardners, to prepare them for a more structured beginning (i.e. less total chaos), than is usual with us.  

"The NEST Project is going to be a bit different in the sense that we will all need to work together the first day or two to get the initial structure woven together,more like a quilting bee instead of Ayn Rand individual acts of astonishing genius..all you Atlas's can shrug a day or two later. First we do our barn-building, I mean, NEST building part, to make sure we have something to riff off of. Just wanted to manage expectations, and make sure we are all together in this. "

blue inspiration

sketching it all out

sketching it all out

the collection of blue items grows 

Harvesting Arundo grass for The Nest project

Today Will and I got out to the Arundo grass site and started cutting, yanking, and pulling and stacking. There seems to be an endless supply of this stuff. Our directions are to thin it, and I think we will get our entire supply here. We are also thinning out some bamboo, which we will use for anything structural. We have decided to clean each stalk of each plant as we go, so are removing branches, leaves, and sheathing before we stack it. It is "chop wood carry water" kind of work, and Will and I have had some good discussions about the project as we harvest. Today we talked about some of the amazing bamboo houses Will saw on his travels in Laos, which are built high off the ground, initially because of the danger of tigers. Also sited a rare young blue Heron down at the creek...amazing bird! 

 

Gardener Will B. workin' up a sweat digging up Arundo grass.

 

Pile of Arundo grass and bamboo

Stripping leaves off each stalk. 

Twisting the sheath off of each stalk of Arundo.

I tried pulling out a bunch of Arundo at once with rope and the old '54, but, while it was fun, it wasn't really as effective as I thought it would be. Discussion now is how to dye the canes blue, as we need a nice contrast at the site, which is pretty drab. It's going to be a lot of work, and we will try to pull together some Gardeners early for a work day. I will bribe them with a BBQ. This project is a bit different for us as the material is more monolithic, and the installation is a bit less improvisational, more designed. We will see how it goes..lots of improvisation possible after the initial structure is up.

 

Trusty old '54

Rosie and Sonny, the goats', home.

Rosie, the goat, getting curious while we cut the Arundo grass

Gather       --      Inspire        --      Create