Thursday, September 27, 2012

Japanese Garden Portland Oregon

While I was in Portland a few weeks ago, I made my way to the Japanese Gardens. I had been told to visit but I held little expectation of what I might encounter.

I knew that I was in for an inspired and meticulously detailed landscape when I passed through the first gate. Ramps were offset to provide an interesting and mildly challenging passage for all into the space and up the winding path to the formal entrance gates. The variation of the materials and the choreography of paths and rests brought me to gems of vistas - long and short - curvy and linear - richly textured and austere. At varying times I felt overwhelmed with inspiration/beauty/awe & blissed out - good design induced euphoria. Indeed, here is a landscape that functions as elevated art form with allusions, that I am sure to have missed, that are momentary, seasonal and deeply poetic. While this art form has been distilled and shaped through centuries of practice, meditation and philosophy, nothing felt dated or stilted. Being there after spending some time in beautifully designed spaces - like Halprin's Keller fountain park - I came to believe that this garden's form of expression and interpretation of nature is inherently modern. As I walked through the garden, details in the path edges and materials made me think of  Dan Kiley and Peter Walker. Later that day, as I was in spaces designed by Dreiseitl - Tanner Springs park, and Halprin - the Keller fountain park (again, ok, I was there everyday of my three days there in Portland) I could see the influence of what I had experienced in the Japanese Garden manifest in the path, materials and lines of those beautiful spaces.  

Most of all, what I loved about the Japanese Gardens was experiencing the spaces at that moment. It's a particular gift that travel bestows - removing ingrained context - so that experiences can flow smoothly and deeply where they need to & nourish the uncharted within.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ode to Portland, Oregon Signs

I love trade signs - and with neon, I swoon.

Here's a sample of the delights I found in Portland, Oregon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Tarriance Installation Day two

Here's an excerpt from my second day in Bend along with those photos I promised....

Sitting next to the Completed installation! The last plant went in and the mulching is finished as well. Everything is done. It's so quiet here, and HOT. Dan had the great idea to top dress the mulch with pine needles, and it's wonderful - a strong connecting element to the surrounding landscape. The needles also add another compelling texture to the completed work. I am on the lower level here next to the thyme, lavender and cat nip. I can already smell the honeysuckle perfume, and can imagine that as it grows more robust in this sunny clime, the smell will become more pronounced.

As ever, the inspiration of the moment and context produced marvelous results. The new configuration gave me the idea to push the visual connections through the installation to create a consistent motif. The honeysuckle will twine through the entire site along with Indian rice grass and Blue-bunch wheat grass. The growth habit of the honeysuckle binds the site together - while the grasses add the thread of nourishment - as any sound healing strategy should - through the installation.  

The health of the plants and the pine needles set the installation apart from the rest of the landscape. The lyrical bones of the piece - the stone work -  play beautifully with the diversity of textures and colors of the plants creating a dynamic and living sculpture. As the piece matures, the relationships between plant/stone/building will evolve and reflect the seasonality and context of place.....


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Tarriance Installation in Oregon part I

The installation is in. My trip out to Bend and Portland while only weeks ago seems further away than that. It was one of the best experiences I've had in my professional life. I've returned to a beautiful fall here in New England feeling energized and at a different level in my outlook and work. Thanks to Dan Snow of Dan Snow Stoneworks and his organized partner Elin - it was a joy to work together. Also thanks to the COCC art committee and the great vendors in Bend, who supplied earth, soil and plants to make the installation - Landsystems Nursery and Winter Creek Nursery. Here's an excerpt from my journal while I was in Oregon at Central Oregon Community College completing day one of my part of the Tarriance.

- I finally got to the site and am able to spend the time here that I have wanted to do since the initiation of the proposal. Working remotely is a challenge to get the feel of place and definition of the surrounding context. On arrival, the organization of the stone pieces is different from what the plan called for,  however, I am happy about the configuration, because there will be that much more interaction between stone and plant material. Dan has done a masterful job of choosing stone with individual character that speaks as a unified piece spanning the three tiers. I especially like the absence of uniformity in the cribbing and how those pieces relate to the basalt pillows resting on them as well as to the surrounding context.

Picking up the plant material and having the soil delivered went really well, so much so that I was able to modify my planting plan to meet the new configuration of sculpture in a way that is harmonious and engaging even with the plants at their immature stage. I've got the plants arrayed and some even planted. I am grateful for the new soil that we brought in because it is so rich and uncompacted - making it a joy to plant. We'll see where I end up tomorrow. A good and encouraging start for the day.....

I'll post day two and final images tomorrow...There were too many photos I wanted to share to do it all in one post.