CULTIVATING EDEN, with REBECCA ALLAN
This last week of April, an "art of the garden" conversation with artist, historian, gardener and environmental advocate Rebecca Allan.
Bronx-New York-based, Rebecca is “known for her richly layered and chromatically nuanced paintings. Her work investigates watershed environments and landscapes and is inspired by her deep interest in botany and land conservation.
In 2018 Allan established Painterly Gardens, a firm specializing in sustainable garden design. From January through June of 2023, Rebecca’s solo show, Cultivating Eden, at Wave Hill House & Garden. The exhibit presents Rebecca’s recent paintings "focused on the labor of gardeners and their spaces." By artistically highlighting "working process—both visible and unnoticed—her series praises the devoted care that the gardeners provide on a daily basis." She sees "Wave Hill as “a special place where art and horticulture are intertwined. Both practices require tenacity, refined skill and historical curiosity.”
As an artist and gardener Rebecca notes that one motivation behind her work is “a desire to nurture the world by envisioning and then enacting spaces where beauty is revealed.”
In our interview she shares this: "I believe that plants are my one of my ways for learning about, and understanding deeply the relationship of beauty to nature to human relationships; to our relationships with the natural world and to each other and so these intertwined endeavors of painting garden making, research, writing, land advocacy -they’re all swirling around in my life in a kind of concentric energy that really - it is a force field that keeps me moving forward and it also is it’s a journey of always learning and finding ways to make the world better."
As well as that: "My gardens and my paintings include the experiences that should be shared about the the hardships of living and life. In creating a painting (or garden), there is an opportunity for developing metaphors that then help us process the pleasures of life as well as the difficulties of living on this planet, the losses and the vulnerabilities of every day life."
Rebecca is deeply grateful to the staff gardeners at Wave Hill, along with the Director of Horticulture Cathy Deutch, who welcomed her "into their potting shed and allowed me to observe their work within their work spaces, all of which is represented in the paintings."
On May 11th and 12th Rebecca will be a leading part of two days of programs on the design work of Ellen Biddle Shipman in Buffalo, NY The programs will be based at and sponsored by the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house and Ellen Biddle Shipman designed garden at Graycliff.
Images courtesy of Rebecca Allan, all rights reserved.
You can follow Rebecca's work on-line at: rebeccaallan.com, and on Instagram: @rebeccaallanstudio/
HERE IS THIS WEEK'S TRANSCRIPT by Doulos Transcription Service:
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JOIN US again next week, when we dig into the many faces of motherhood in preparation for Mother’s Day in conversation once again with award winning poet, mother, education, editor, partner and gardener, Camille Dungy. Her newest book is Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden. Listen in!
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Fueling America’s passion for gardens, the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program is a nationwide community of gardeners and garden enthusiasts teaching and inspiring each other. Since 1995, Open Days has welcomed over a million visitors into thousands of private landscapes—from urban rooftops to organic farms, historic estates to innovative suburban lots—in 41 states.
Thinking out loud this week:
You know I love when Rebecca refers to the guests on Cultivating Place as my conversational partners. Cause that’s what we are: conversational partners in growing a better gardened world.
I’ll take that…
One of the many other things I am struck by in this conversation with Rebecca is the great diversity of ways we all have and we can all engage with in Cultivating Eden– to use the title of Rebecca’s art exhibit focusing on the beauty and the labor of the gardeners of the world. There are a great many artistic and intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical ways we can all contribute to this exact kind of cultivation.
So be it.
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