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Wave Hill Presents Garden Improvement
(Left image) Marguerite Kahrl and Paul Ruff, proposal for Garden Improvement. (Right) Catarina Leitão, proposal for Garden Improvement.

BRONX, N.Y.- Wave Hill presents the exhibition Garden Improvement, on view in Glyndor Gallery and on the grounds, on view through August 27. To many visitors Wave Hill is a utopian garden, a place to seek ideas and inspiration for their own homes. Garden Improvement will offer an alternate view of the relationship between people and nature by looking at how a garden is made more inhabitable, personal, and domesticated. The exhibition includes idiosyncratic, humble, do-it-yourself ideas born from artists’ spirit of invention, rather than by design. Furnishings, equipment, and embellishments that make the garden more comfortable indoors and out will form a bridge from culture to nature. Each project has been created specifically for this exhibition.

Joan Bankemper, Karen Rich Beall, Jimbo Blachly & Lytle Shaw, Laure Drogoul, Charles Goldman, Paula Hayes, Marguerite Kahrl & Paul Ruff, Cassandra Lozano, Catarina Leitão, Philip Ross, Rachel Selekman, Austin Thomas, and Andy Yoder.

OUTDOORS ~ Practical ideas for making the most of your outdoor space. - Joan Bankemper creates a bird observation area with a suite of tractor-part chairs and ornate birdhouses on ornamented poles. These are cast in ceramic from found molds used to make kitschy collectables and employ a 1960’s color scheme of turquoise, orange and off-white.

Keeping with the DIY nature of his Public Fountain, Charles Goldman is transporting this solar-powered, portable fountain on foot, from Brooklyn to the Bronx via Broadway. The fountain will be relocated to different parts of the grounds offering visitors a respite from the heat. A video in the gallery charts the transport of the fountain through the City streets.

Conscious of the need to be less reliant on fossil fuels, Marquerite Kahrl and Paul Ruff invented a solar-powered lawn mower made from recycled parts. It will operate regularly to keep the grass and weeds at bay.

Austin Thomas transforms a rustic stone overlook area into Patio Perched, a cluster of stools made out of cast-off Corian® pieces arranged like slabs of flagstone to create a perfect gathering spot for a small group.

In his elegiac work, Timberline, Andy Yoder replaces a plank from each of the tables in Wave Hill’s picnic area. Drawing attention to trees as a source for garden furniture, half of the planks originate from trees that are prized for furniture but endangered due to de-forestation. Others come from domestic hardwoods being affected by acid rain. Three are from species found at Wave Hill. Each plank bears the tree’s name, etched by a Vermont memorial company.

INSIDE THE GALLERY, an urbanite’s response to bringing nature indoors - Karen Rich Beall brings the garden indoors through a new installation that interprets the brugmansia (angels trumpet) found during the summer at the Perkins Visitor Center entrance. Suspended in a stairwell, this vine-like structure is knit by hand and inspired by 19th-century decorative borders and ornament, connecting the natural with the domestic.

Laure Drogoul preserves the scents of plants found at Wave Hill in an olfactory installation or “scentorium.” Bottled specimens, a distilling device and dried plants form the basis of this collection where visitors can test their sense of smell.

Anticipating growth in compromised environments, Philip Ross exhibits Roundabout, a squat bunker-like indoor planter with mysterious interior growing spaces for flowers and nice smelling herbs. When plugged into the wall, the container acts as a life-support system supplying air, light, water and protection to the plants inside. Another piece, Junior Return, is a small hydroponic sculpture, or self-contained survival capsule, for one living plant.

Catarina Leitão’s Private Garden is a portable, tent-like garden. Anthropomorphic in shape, this hybrid garment and tent contains a mysterious interior retreat filled with soft plant-like pillows. Leitão suggests that we manipulate nature to make it more comfortable, accommodating our desire to be closer to the diminishing, often distant natural environment.

In the sunroom, Paula Hayes is arranging a group of rare jewel-like orchids in small silicone, earthen colored planters that she has designed. She cultivates the wild, free relationship between the container and the contained.

Cassandra Lozano transforms the gallery’s oval entrance foyer into a glittering grotto with an array of suspended Blossom Bombs – lighted globes containing an array of floating flowers.

Rachel Selekman’s sun porch installation expands on her interest in the watering can and its function to nourish and aid in growth. She transforms the utilitarian tool by creating multi-spouted cans. Two hang from the ceiling, pouring forth a cascade of roses and silver thread, while a floor-based can extends its tentacles like an octopus.

Jimbo Blachly and Lytle Shaw, working as the Chadwicks, a pair of “hack” researchers, exhibit a folio, models and artifacts that depict volcano garden follies. They claim that the follies were planned for Wave Hill’s grounds by resident Bashford Dean in the early part of the 20th Century.

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