Archiving Ephemeral Beauty
Nancy & Warner Bacon Gallery, June 15 – September 16, 2018
Co-curated by artist and gardener Susan Kemenyffy, this exhibit presents submissions to the Smithsonian Institution documenting fifteen of the region’s most exceptional gardens. Erie’s 92-year-old Carrie T. Watson garden club has worked to historically preserve the memory of decade upon decade of skilled craftsmanship, knowledge, and commitment to the creation of ephemeral beauty these gardens represent. In the seven years of this ongoing effort, two recently lost gardens have been serendipitously preserved by (SAAG).
A garden is a time-based work of art whose transient nature and quality depends upon collaboration between a person and place. Garden stewards nurture their land, in many styles, in many climates and circumstances, and for many private and civic purposes.
American gardeners from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico have for generations created ‘green spaces’, Fortunately, for more than a quarter century, the Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens (SAAG) in Washington DC, in partnership with the Garden Club of America—with its 200 clubs and 18,000 members—had the prescience to date to document with images, maps, and data over 4700 of these exceptional gardens. The Garden History & Design Committee of the Carrie T. Watson garden club has extensively documented disparate, idiosyncratic, amazingly energetic, peaceful, meditative & ironic gardens, from the Ohio border to the New York State border and south to Slippery Rock.
Today’s achievements are tomorrow’s history. Even the most beauteous gardens and their dedicated stewards eventually vanish; memory’s authenticity corrodes; plant zones, tools, materials, systems, processes, hierarchies and fashion evolve from one century to another. Thus, capturing the ephemeral beauty, stories and images of these gardens, in their glorious moments is today’s thoughtful gift to tomorrow’s stewards.
Susan Kemenyffy / GCA Zone V / Carrie T Watson / Chair Garden History & Design