by Leti Wesolowski, contributor
“The Artful Garden” is a joint art show between Caron O’Neil and Ace McCasland, two local artists passionate about creating art with the most unusual things. Their theme this time is: living plants. Discover beautiful artful ideas to decorate your home and garden and get ready to enjoy Spring!
“The garden is a sacred place where you can lose yourself and find yourself at the same time,” says Ace McCasland. “Reconnect. Rediscover. Breathe. Plunge your hands into the soil, feel the earth... Listen closely, your garden has secrets to share.”
Ace delves into many different forms of artistic expression, including being a well accomplished metalsmith (www.studiolunaverde.com), a mixed media artist, and an avid gardener. (Ace describes herself as a true cactus hugger who brakes for wildflowers!) When asked what ‘Art’ means to her, she replied: “Art is expression, exploration. Art can make loud, passionate, political statements, or gentle whispers from a quiet soul. The act of making art uses one's whole body: the hands manipulate, the head resolves, the heart gestures, the shoulders shrug, the soul sighs. Art keeps me constantly investigating, exploring, learning, striving, wondering, discovering, breathing, losing myself, then finding myself again... art is life is art.”
After a promise of challenging herself and pushing her personal limits to create something out of her comfort zone (i.e.: not using fire and metal) she found concrete as the primary material to begin exploring, together with plants and patina.
“I've often wanted to integrate living plants into my work, which isn't always practical, but with the increasing popularity and availability of tillandsias, or air plants, I saw a way to use them in small sculptures,” Ace says. “It also gave me an opportunity to explore the metaphor of plants emerging from cracks in concrete, thriving despite adverse conditions, always reaching for the light. Contrasting the hardness of concrete with the soft textures of the plants is quite satisfying.”
She also experimented with different types of outdoor “wall” art that explore patina as a surface embellishment slowly changing over time as a result of exposure to the elements.
“I created a few assemblage pieces from recycled cedar fence paneling and found objects, all tough enough to handle being outside, where certain parts may spin in the wind, bells will jangle, rust will develop and trickle, but you may be tempted to hang them inside as well.”
Ace is particularly excited about her concrete and patina panels, a series of intriguing squares with inserted deeply oxidized metal bits and found objects that will continue to oxidize and drip and change over time. “I've always been drawn to how rust can drip and oxidize concrete, creating an abstract painting that may take years to develop.”
For more explorations and fantastic designs, follow Ace on Facebook www.facebook.com/studiolunaverde and Instagram www.instagram.com/studiolunaverde
Our second artist, Caron O’Neil, uses found objects and discarded materials to create fun art expressions with the hope to enhance one's garden naturally, and at the same time help protect the environment and improve our overall health.
Her strongest interests and influence have always been Old World cultures, ethnic art and the connection to Earth and its protection. A Colorado native, Caron spent her teen years in Montana but returned to Colorado to become the first female park ranger in Colorado Springs for thirty years. Now retired, she focuses on her passion to create art and take care of her garden. “All my life I’ve loved playing in the dirt and growing things. Buying a house with a big open dirt backyard was a dream come true… Growing my own food is so gratifying and therapeutic to me,” she says.
One of Caron’s favorite concepts explored for this show is the Kokedama balls. Kokedama is a Japanese word that translates from “koke” meaning moss and “dama” meaning ball. Sometimes called the “Poor Man’s Bonsai,” the art of binding plants into green moss balls dates back centuries to the Edo era in Japan between 1603 and 1868. Suspending these distinctive moss balls from strings and displaying them in large groups is called “String Gardens,” makes an adorable decoration for any home. Caron loves these moss orbs because very few people have ever seen them and “the concept of hanging a plant in a moss ball in the air fascinates me.”
Another new idea Caron explored for this show is Bug boxes. These boxes are meant to attract and create suitable habitats for beneficial bugs such as bees, ladybugs and butterflies, to help contribute to the health of plants in the garden naturally. Worm towers are another form of Earth friendly art pieces, employing leftover food waste and composting worms (red wigglers) to sustainably improve the soil in the garden without artificial chemicals.
Caron wanted to express peace and harmony with nature with her interpretation of indoor Zen Gardens for the home. She has collected a variety of found objects with a Buddhist theme and artfully rearranged them into different containers with small pebbles. These gardens come with dried decorative cuttings but they can be substituted with fresh stems or flowers by filling with water the slate stone container (hidden beneath the pebbles) that houses a metal ‘flower frog’ in it to keep the stems upright. Each Zen garden is assembled lightly so as to be rearranged into different ways and with different plants of your choice.
Other pieces in the show are just fun assemblages made with salvaged objects meant to bring visual joy to any garden. “Being an artist is a way of life,” Caron says. “It’s in one’s DNA. I can’t imagine not being creative in some way that brings joy to yourself and others. Knowing that someone wants what you’ve created to bring happiness to their lives is so gratifying. What’s better than that?”
Find more of Caron’s fun creations at Commonwheel Artist Co-op.
Ace and Caron have created an amazing body of work for “The Artful Garden” to build awareness of easy garden improvement ideas and to spread joy and creativity to your garden and living spaces. Join us for the opening reception May 19th at our Creekside Gallery from 5 to 8pm. Come, meet the artists and enjoy their artistic offerings perfect for Spring time! “The Artful Garden” will be on display and for sale until June 12th.
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