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Chihuly and Pumpkins at New York Botanical Garden’s Fall Weekend

Chihuly Exhibit, 'Sol de Citron,' NYBG 2017, Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Nights (Carole Di Tosti)

Chihuly Exhibit, ‘Sol de Citron,’ NYBG 2017, Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Nights (Carole Di Tosti)

Last weekend at the New York Botanical Garden was my last time to say goodbye to the Chihuly Exhibit. I have visited the exhibit a number of times, but each time is fresh and different. One reason is because Dale Chihuly’s outdoor sculptures refract and reflect the changes in sunlight during the changing seasons, from spring to fall.

Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Exhibit, NYBG, Chihuly Nights, Chihuly Chandeliers

Stunning Chihuly chandeliers at the NYBG Chihuly Exhibit, Dale Chihuly, New York Botanical Garden, Chihuly Nights (Carole Di Tosti)

Chihuly Exhibit, NYBG, Chihuly Days, NYBG Garden Shop

Dale Chihuly’s art glass for sale in the NYBG Garden Shop, Chihuly Exhibit, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Dale Chihuly’s Macchia Forrest (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden, summer concert series

Dale Chihuly’s ‘Macchia Forrest’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ NYBG summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Dale Chihuly, Macchia Forrest, NYBG 2017, Chihuly Nights

Dale Chihuly’s ‘Macchia Forrest’ (2017), another view, Chihuly Nights, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

 

Another reason is because no matter how closely you look at a piece, you will notice something unique every time. Perhaps it is the way the colors merge into each other on some pieces or the way the glass curves or projects starkly upward. With the sculptures that are housed indoors at the Enid A. Haupt conservatory, for example Macchia Forest, 2017, Chihuly’s vibrant colors startle in multi-colored  tulip-shaped cups arising from iron-like stems in the conservatory’s indoor pond and fountain gorgeously arranged with hanging flowering plantings. One could remain there all day or in the evening with a drink during Chihuly Nights. The rich ambience delights and the sounds of water splaying in the fountain soothe. As with all of Chihuly’s sculptures thoughtfully arranged in or around water, the reflections dazzle and enthrall with their multi-dimensional views.

C, NYBG 2017, Dale Chihulyhihuly Exhibit, 'Sapphire Star,' 2010

Chihuly Exhibit, ‘Sapphire Star,’ 2010, NYBG 2017, Dale Chihuly (Carole Di Tosti)

Sapphire Star 2010, NYBG 2017, Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Nights

‘Dale Chihuly’s ‘Sapphire Star’ 2010, NYBG 2017, Chihuly Nights (Carole Di Tosti)

I will sorely miss this exhibit which stirs the imagination toward infinite and graceful fantasies that one conjures up in brilliant dreams. I have become used to catching the falling sunlight at dusk as it stirs the effervescence and evolving, sparkling, deep blue, shimmering hues on Sapphire Star 2010, NYBG 2017 amidst the darkening shadowy green of the landscape and deepening black shapes of the trees. Sapphire Star 2010, installed at NYBG 2017 is my favorite. I enjoyed seeing it in high noon brilliance or in the surrounding darkness enhanced with a few ground lights along the Garden path that is out of the Chronicles of Narnia. My imagination runs wild. And if I were indeed alone without anyone near me, I would expect a unicorn or centaur to jump out from behind a tree and admiringly gaze at this groundling star whose other-worldy beauty beckons.

Chihuly Exhibit, Float Boat and Koda Studies #1 & 2, Chihuly Nights, NYBG 2017

Chihuly Exhibit, ‘Float Boat and Koda Studies #1 & 2,’ Chihuly Nights, NYBG 2017 (Carole Di Tosti)

Chihuly Exhibit, Float Boat and Koda Studies #1 & 2, Chihuly Nights NYBG 2017

A closer view! Chihuly Exhibit, ‘Float Boat and Koda Studies #1 & 2,’ Chihuly Nights, NYBG 2017 (Carole Di Tosti)

Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Exhibit, Float Boat and Koda Studies # 1 & 2, NYBG 2017

A closer view!! Chihuly Exhibit, ‘Float Boat and Koda Studies #1 & 2,’ Chihuly Nights, NYBG 2017 (Carole Di Tosti)

 

This past weekend I also strayed beyond the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden to visit the Native Plant Garden where Chihuly’s Float Boat and Koda Studies #1 and #2 herald all that might be accomplished when the creative spirit is allowed to run wild amidst a natural platform. Again, Dale Chihuly combines contrasting shapes, sizes and forms. There are the comforting huge glass balls of every shining hue imaginable displayed in a an oblong vessel held up by a flowing water pond.. In the nighttime, the view widens its depth. Which is is solid? Which is fluid? And indeed physics will explain that both are double images of each other for all contain infinitesimal atoms which spin at incredible speeds and play havoc with what appears to be real but which is something else entirely. A true mind-blast and pageantry of excellence.

Chihuly Nights, Dale Chihuly, Native Plant Garden, NYBG

Guitar player accompanying our views in the Native Plant Garden, NYBG, Chihuly Nights (Carole Di Tosti)

That evening a guitar player shared his repertoire as we hailed the Chihuly’s Koda Studies # 1 and 2. Chihuly designed these specifically for the exhibit, honoring his original Artpark installation designed with friend Seaver Leslie in Lewiston, New York in 1975. That significant installation launched Dale Chihuly as a glass artisan and he has been flying into glory ever since.

NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend, Chihuly Exhibit, Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Nights

Walking to the Native Plant Garden we encounter spooky pumpkins on the way. NYBG, Chihuly Exhibit, Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG Giant Pumpkin Weekend

Spooky pumpkins, NYBG Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Carole Di Tosti)

As we sauntered along the path viewing Chihuly’s muted dark fuschia, red and yellow glass panes pinging off the lengthy water display in the Native Plant Garden, our senses were regaled. The native grasses, wild herbs, shrubs and dying foliage exuded gorgeous aromas released in the humid night air. There was a sense of freedom and exploration I felt. Tell me where else in New York City can one travel safely along landscaped, tree-lined paths in the nighttime breathing clean air with heavenly scents except at a NYBG evening exhibit.

Everett Children's Adventure Garden, Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG

Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG (Carole DI Tosti

Everett Children's Adventure Garden, Giant Pumpkin Weekend

Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG Children's Adventure Garden, Giant Pumpkin Weekend

Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Everett Children's Adventure Garden, Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG

Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Everett Children's Adventure Garden, NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend

Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG,

Pumpkin grown by the Synders, from Bessemer, Pennsylvania weighs 1,261 pounds, NYBG Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Carole Di Tosti)

During the daytime I walked amongst the still-green trees which are here and there beginning to prepare for fall and winter. I stepped into the fun-filled Everett Children’s Adventure Garden and watched the kids enjoy themselves everywhere they went. The Children’s Garden was packed. The humongous pumpkins patiently sat as children scrambled on top of them and families posed for pictures. Each of the gigantic specimens were record-breakers. (see below for stats) Families sought and found enormous pumpkins, gourds, and squashes – it was also Giant Pumpkin Weekend, and families came to see these incredible natural wonders.

NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend

Conquering a record-breaking pumpkin, (2,269 lbs) from England at NYBG Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend

Conquered! Record-breaking pumpkin, (2,269 lbs) from England at NYBG Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Carole Di Tosti)

Kids and parents took pictures standing on them, climbing them, sitting on them, and standing next to them. Giant Pumpkin Weekend, arranged in collaboration with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, showed off the growers’ skills at nurturing the hugest (I know that’s not a word), most fantabulous (or that either) pumpkins. Each of these record-breakers from around the world weighed in at more than a ton.

How these pumpkins’ DNA allows them to expand boggles the mind. Importantly, growers come to share how this happens in the growing process during Q&As.

Recapping the record-breakers and their growers for 2017.

This year’s largest pumpkin traveled from Sumner, Washington, bringing with it the North American all-time record. Nurtured by Joel Holland, the “Great Pumpkin” weighed in at 2,363 pounds.

The second-largest pumpkin ever grown came from the United Kingdom, with that country’s all-time record of 2,269 pounds. Ian Paton and Stuart Paton grew this lovely.

Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG

Largest squash grown, 2,118 lbs, NYGB Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Carole Di Tosti)

Finally, at the entrance of the Leon Levy Visitors Center you will find the largest squash grown in the world this year. This all-time record-breaker grown by Joe Jutras hails from North Scituate, Rhode Island. It weighs in at 2,118 pounds.

NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend

Pumpkins everywhere in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Carole Di Tosti)

Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG

Pumpkins everywhere in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Carole Di Tosti)

Giant Pumpkin Weekend, Everett Children's Adventure Garden, NYBG

Pumpkins everywhere in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Carole Di Tosti)

If you missed this annual fun event the weekend of 21-22 October, don’t worry. The display continues through 31 October. And if you can’t make it this year, next year the Garden will be hosting amazing record-breaking specimens again. You know they will be even larger.

Another fun event at the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden involved costumes and goodies. Children dressed in costumes visited the Whole Foods Market® Trick-or-Treat Trail. Since Whole Foods offered the treats, you know they had to be nutritious and delicious. No candy corn could be found anywhere on those Whole Foods Market tables. Additionally, children could decorate a bag to collect their goodies, which included a “children’s sized” baby spider plant anxious to receive a new home.

Creepy Creatures of Halloween, Everett Children's Adventure Garden, NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend

Reptile wrangler with Sheldon a beautiful turtle, NYBG, Creepy Creatures of Halloween, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG, Giant Pumpkin Weekend

Petting Skittles the milk snake, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Giant Pumpkin Weekend, NYBG

Petting Wilma a very sweet and popular lizard, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

One event I particularly enjoyed took place at the Clay Family Picnic Pavilions. Kids and parents came curious to see what creepy, spooky creatures of Halloween might crawl around, fly, or calm down to be petted. The live animal presentation revealed interesting reptiles from everywhere, perhaps even some backyards upstate or in the South.

In the photos are the popular Wilma, a lizard who sustained the children petting her with peace and calm, and Skittles the milk snake who also was petted by the children and remained peaceful throughout. One can see the various creatures Saturdays and Sundays, 1 & 3 p.m. until 29 October.

Chihuly Exhibit, NYBG

A Chihuly piece for sale in the NYBG Garden Shop, Chihuly Exhibit, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

The New York Botanical Garden contains a fabulous and beautiful world of treasures for everyone. If you can catch the Chihuly Exhibit during the day, you will be thrilled. Unfortunately, tickets to Chihuly Nights have been sold out for the last week. However, if you go during the day over the weekend, make sure to get there early. The parking is limited. And even if it is a bit colder, New Yorkers and out-of-towners want to take a last breathtaking look at the NYBG Chihuly exhibit before it leaves. Thankfully, I took many pictures in remembrance. When winter approaches in earnest in New York City, I will look back at this article and my pictures in fond remembrance.

For events at the NYGB, CLICK HERE.

 

‘Jazz and Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden Summer Concert Series

Jazz & Chihuly, Damien Sneed, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden

Damien Sneed and musicians in ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ at the New York Botanical Garden (Carole Di Tosti)

Considering the Charlottesville, Virginia August 11th incidents and the tragic loss of one woman’s life, up through the president’s press conference of Tuesday, August 15th, these days of August have been tumultuous and divisive. Indeed, taking a stand to uphold human rights and decry hate groups that seek mainstream political power appears to be more vital than ever as protest marches this past weekend indicate.  Symbolic action, whether it is through protest demonstrations or concerts is a reminder to all that Love trumps Hate. A great majority of Americans are committed to upholding the sanctity of every life, regardless of race or religion.

New York Botanical Garden, Koda Study No. 3, Dale Chihuly, Damien Sneed, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

Chihuly sculptures (“Koda Study No. 3”) in the New York Botanical Garden water lily and lotus pond backdropped by the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, after the summer concert series, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ with Damien Sneed,  and his ensemble and guest Keyon Harrold (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s Persian Pond and Fiori (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s ‘Persian Pond and Fiori’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s Persian Pond and Fiori (2017), Jazz & chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden, summer concert series

Detail, Chihuly’s ‘Persian Pond and Fiori’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s Persian Pond and Fiori (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, NYBG summer concert series

Detail, NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s ‘Persian Pond and Fiori’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Serendipitiously, the final summer concert series at the New York Botanical Garden on Friday, 18 August was a majestic reminder of this citizen commitment. Despite the threatening thunderstorm and intermittent periods of rain throughout the day, the turnout to embrace Jazz and Chihuly, “Songs of Protest & Reconciliation” was overwhelming.

Damien Sneed, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, NYGB summer concert series

Damien Sneed, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden

The audience for ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ the concert series at the New York Botanical Garden (Carole Di Tosti)

The tent was packed with a diverse crowd who were there to enjoy the all-star musical group led by award-winning pianist and vocalist, Damien Sneed, guest trumpeter Keyon Harrold and the other prodigiously talented musicians and vocal artists. Together, these individuals presented an evening of entertainment that was poignant and joyful. And after joining with them in celebrating some of the best songs created by greats of jazz, soul, gospel and contemporary music (including two composed by Damien Sneed), the audience was sent out into the night sans rain to appreciate the luminous Chihuly sculptures presented throughout the grounds and in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Chihuly's Red Reeds on Logs (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden

Dale Chihuly’s “Red Reeds on Logs” (2017) part of the special concert series ‘Jazz and Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ at the New York Botanical Garden (Carole Di Tosti)

Sol del Citron, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer series

“Sol del Citron” at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Sapphire Star, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer series

‘Dale Chihuly’s ‘Sapphire Star’ ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

New York Botanical Garden summer concert series, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower (2017)

Chihuly’s ‘Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

This final concert in the summer series was co-produced by the Catskill Jazz Factory and Absolutely Live Entertainment. The Catskill Jazz Factory encompasses a dynamic jazz program whose mission is to aid some of the finest young jazz artists with year-round workshops, concerts, residencies and world-class performances in the Hudson Valley. Absolutely Live Entertainment is a festival, tour and concert production company spearheaded by Danny Melnick. Malnick is the Producer of the Newport Jazz Festival and the Artistic Director of Carnegie Halls’ The Shape of Jazz series.

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series, Damien Sneed

Damien Sneed rouses the crowd at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Damien Sneed, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Damien Sneed on piano and vocals at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Damien Sneed is a master of practically every musical genre and a 2014 recipient of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence honor which is presented annually to emerging Black and Latino leaders in classical music. His facility with jazz, gospel, pop, R & B, opera and musical theater and his work with Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross have served him in excellent stead.

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Ensemble vocalists, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden, summer concert series, Damien Sneed

Damien Sneed and ensemble musicians at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Sneed facilely shepherded the ensemble of vocalists Chenee Campbell, Anitra McKinney, Djore Nance, Tiffany Stevenson, Matia Washington and musicians Stacy Dillard (saxophone) Corey Wilcox (trombone) Julius Rodriguez (Hammond B3 organ) John Matthew Clark (bass guitar), Mark Clark, Jr. (drums). The songs of protest “I Wish I knew How it Would Feel to Be Free” (Nina Simone), “Oh Freedom,” (African-American spiritual), “Follow the Drinking Gourd (Underground Railroad) and “Freedom (excerpt)” (Duke Ellington) for example, emphasized every individual’s yearning for freedom and what freedom means collectively and personally.

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Vocal ensemble, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

During the first half of the evening, an audience member brought up a T-Shirt and draped it on a music stand. The T-Shirt had the logo, “Black Lives Matter.” Her action was spontaneous and unstaged.

Interspersed with these songs of protest were the songs of reconciliation: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Simon and Garfunkel), “God Bless the Child, (Billie Holiday & Arthur Herzog, Jr., “Proud Mary,” (John Fogarty), “Is My Living in Vain,” (Twinkie Clark & The Clark Sisters) and more. Each number featured a powerful solo by one of the vocalists. The audience showed their appreciation with standing ovations.

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Powerful solo performances by the ensemble garnered standing ovations at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

During the second portion of the evening, Keyon Harrold performed a song he had composed. Harrold presented “When Will The Killing Stop?” as a dedication to Michael Brown and all the young, black men who have been killed for “no good reason.” His playing was at once soulful and poignant, his talent incredible. It is no wonder he has been featured on nearly 100 albums with a wide music range from jazz to R & B, from pop and gospel, to blues and hip-hop.

Keyon Harrold, Jazz & Chihuly Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Keyon Harrold trumpeter at “Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Keyon Harrold, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Keyon Harrold, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Damien Sneed, Keyon Harrold, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, NYBG summer concert series

(L to R): Damien Sneed, Keyon Harrold, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

By the conclusion of the evening, the storm and rain had stopped and the audience had been refreshed and uplifted by the development of the program from seeking soul freedom to the process by which that freedom evolves: forgiveness, reconciliation and love.

Dale Chihuly’s Macchia Forrest (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden, summer concert series

Dale Chihuly’s ‘Macchia Forrest’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ NYBG summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Chihuly's White Tower with Fiori, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation

Chihuly’s ‘White Tower with Fiori.’ central showcase, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, New York Botanical Garden, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Dale Chihuly’s Macchia Forrest (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, NYBG summer concert series

Dale Chihuly’s ‘Neon 206’ ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ NYBG summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Lillian Goldman Fountain of Life with Chihuly's Blue Polyvitro Crystals, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Lillian Goldman Fountain of Life with Chihuly’s Blue Polyvitro Crystals, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

On this night the evolution was inspired through music and exceptional artistry which united and uplifted a community of jazz, botanical and Chihuly enthusiasts. For audience members it was a clarification of the last few weeks and exemplification of all that is best in human hearts, further embodied by our wonderment at the fantastic, illuminated Chihuly sculptures.

 

 

KIKU Exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden

Kiku, Ogiku, Kiku: Art of the Japanese Garden

An example of Ogiku at the New York Botanical Garden’s Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden until 30 October. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

 

For those of you who have visited Japan in the fall, you are familiar with kiku and will most probably have fond memories of kiku that you saw in amazing displays wherever you may have walked around Tokyo or other cities in the country. Kiku is the Japanese word for “chrysanthemum.” It is the most venerated of all Japanese fall flowering plants, not only for its beauty, but also for its medicinal qualities and ancient cultural tradition.

What is most amazing is how the Japanese for centuries have maintained what is now becoming the dying art of training and shaping liku into the most incredible designs. It is becoming a dying art because the process of training the growing, fragile Kiku into such lovely shapes requires great skill and is tremendously labor intensive. One false move, one mistake and the entire display may be ruined. Kiku are “no joke.” And it is for that reason they are celebrated in Japan as part of the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the ephemeral beauty of flowers, known as hanami.

kiku, chrysanthemum, NYBG, Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden

Kiku, the chrysanthemum, is the foundation for all kiku displays. Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden at NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

 

kiku, NYBG, Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden

Butterfly kiku, an innovative design at the NYBG exhibit, Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Kiku presentations in conceptualization and philosophy are perhaps one of the most fleeting flower arrangements of all. The displays cannot be preserved beyond a few weeks. They are original. They are easily damaged and during the process of the pruning and training, they are incredibly fragile. Considering that it takes 11 months to grow, train and shape kiku into a cascade design, for example, for 11 months of labor, one receives, if one is careful, two to three weeks of beauty that vanishes as if it never lived at all. It is that impermanence of life that is so captivating a reminder for us to appreciate all that is beautiful for a season, until it withers. The irony is that kiku cannot even regrow their shapes. So, the artistry required to get them to their state of loveliness is truly exceptional

Indeed, one wonders why, in our fast paced digital age, anyone cares about pinching the buds off some flowers to effect beauty. Precisely. When one understands the process and the effort, one appreciates their pageantry. Besides, like all craft and artistry, if it can be preserved, we stay connected with our historical past and the past of other countries and their cultures. In our blink-and-it’s gone current cultural oppression of time, kiku are at once given to us from the ancients and are made modern by having those who care bring the art into the 21st century.

Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden, NYBG

Kengai, cascade kiku at the NYBG exhibit, Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

The NYBG has taken on the laborious craft in order to insure that the art will continue to be enjoyed by visitors from Japan as well as those who are familiar with the fall chrysanthemums, but are unfamiliar with the ability of the plants to be trained and designed into magnificent trees, cascades, bridges and more. Each year the NYBG has its kiku exhibit in the fall, pioneered by the chrysanthemum masters at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo who educated Yukie Kurashina. Yukie has trained others like James Harkins in the fine art of floral theater. And under the supervision of Marc Hachadourian, Director of the Nolan Greenhouses for Living Collections, James (foreman of gardeners) and kiku expert Yukie with scores of volunteers have made the kiku exhibit at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory into  a place of refuge mirroring the past and merging it with the present.

kiku NYBG, Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden

Ozukuri, thousand bloom display at the NYBG exhibit, Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

During the exhibit Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden, you will see three traditional kiku styles:

  • Ozukuri which means thousand bloom. A single stem of a chrysanthemum plant is trained to produce hundreds of simultaneous blossoms in a massive umbrella-shaped display.
  • Kengai which means cascade. Small-flowered chrysanthemums are pruned and pinched to frameworks that flow downward like waterfalls for lengths up to six and one-half feet.
  • Ogiku which means double and triple stem. These are enormous individual flowers presented at the end of stems that can reach up to six feet tall.

Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden is running from October 8 through October 30. For the full programming schedule that follows this exhibit, click HERE for the NYBG website.

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