This Sunday, December 15, I will be part of a “Cross-Pollination Pop-Up” with fellow garden bloggers, Denise of A Growing Obsession and Dustin of non-secateur, at the Long Beach flea market. We’ll be selling an array of stylish, handmade garden items as well as plants, pots and miscellany. For example, above: Lovely vintage rope doorstops by Denise and cool concrete “gems” by Dustin … both have a simple elegance that would add texture indoors or out. My contribution will be several art pieces, including my “portable mural”, ‘AGUA’. It’s made up of four separate panels, with a combined length of 81.25 inches; height is 63 inches. Each panel was constructed for me from painted reclaimed wood, and is approximately 20 inches wide; pigments are water-based commercial house paints. I think the random colors of the assembled wood background is very effective; overall I’m quite pleased with my painting. I think it would work well indoors or out, although I can see it really shining in a low-water garden … possibly installed in a rusted metal framework at the end of a gravel path … perhaps in a zig-zag installation. Paul thinks it would look great mounted over a fountain; I can tell he’s already hoping it won’t sell.
The Rancho’s experiencing a bit of agave showiness I usually associate with springtime. Our attenuatas have sent out efflorescences in the side and back yards, and in the front yard another variety has sent up a stalk about as tall as a street lamp. I can’t say for certain but I think this spate of pop-up activity might have something to do with recent rains, some of which have been surprises. In fact, these pictures were taken two days ago, when we enjoyed showers our iPhone weather predictors missed altogether. Whatever the reason, I’m enjoying the show, as are passersby. I’ve seen Mt. Rubidoux walkers point as they amble past, especially at the tallest specimen in the front yard … I can’t help but feel pride! The sturdy fellow, above, is in the backyard, in our driveway; spectacular now, it will arc out far beyond its point of origin before it’s all over.
The only symbol of Thanksgiving that’s ever mattered to me is the cornucopia, that classic horn of plenty overflowing with fruits of the harvest. As an artistic child I couldn’t wait for the holiday to come ’round because then I’d have a reason to draw one. After all, none of the other art projects associated with the day held any interest for me. The traced-hand-turned-turkey? Bleh; it always seemed like the peacock’s uninteresting earth tone-obsessed cousin. Pilgrims? Their buckles and starched collars did nothing to gussy up their drab wardrobes; boring! (Their Native American counterparts might’ve been more appealing but somehow they were never offered as an option when the construction paper was passed out.) No, the cornucopia was my favorite. In my overscaled drawings I’d pay special attention to the horn’s details, spending much time depicting its tightly woven surface, and making sure to end it in a coiled spiral like that of a nautilus’ shell. That finished, I would direct my efforts toward depicting the farmers market of produce spilling forth from its wide opening. Peaches out of season; strawberries months away? I didn’t care; if they looked good next to a pumpkin or a gourd they were in. Without fail my teachers lavishly praised my efforts, posting them prominently in places of honor — away from the brown-and-orange hand turkeys and Mr. and Mrs. McBuckles of my ham-handed classmates. Ah, memories.
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NOTE: Yesterday I posted that I, and two other garden bloggers, would be sharing a space and selling at the Long Beach flea market tomorrow. That post was based on an erroneous assumption on my part and has been removed; we will actually be selling at the December 15th flea. I apologize for any confusion this mix-up might have caused. Silver lining: My offering, a “portable mural” titled ‘AGUA’, is finished a month ahead of time … I think I’ll go lie down now. Thank you!
This composition features a few of my favorite things: Industrial and farm implements, rusted metal fragments, succulents. I love the repeated squares and circles of the old fan grates; the rusted circular bowl that once was the bottom of a barbecue; the very vertical and wood-handled vintage wedge dolly; the huge galvanized hook at the end of a rusted steel cable knot … smaller elements include a strange little wood-handled heating coil, some giant steel chain links, an old grinder lid and a geometric grill from an old hibachi. But it’s my new planter here that I’m really crazy about …
Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — is a holiday celebrated by Mexicans and other cultures on October 31st and November 1st and 2nd. Like Halloween, Day of the Dead takes many of the elements that make death so frightful and uses them for decoration and festivity. Both holidays are favorites of children and entire families, and can involve extensive decorations, costumes, face-painting and parties. A tradition of Day of the Dead that sets it apart from Halloween, however, is the creation of altars to celebrate the lives of those who’ve passed on. Ranging from small personal shrines inside one’s home to massive and elaborate constructs that can take up an entire civic plaza, altar making has become a popular way to celebrate Day of the Dead and honor one’s ancestors. With origins that can be traced back to the Aztecs, altar making is a ritual filled with religious overtones, especially Catholic. My family, while Mexican, was not Catholic, and because public schools at the time we attended didn’t teach about Day of the Dead, we never formed our own altar making tradition. Later, as Mexican pride and cultural sensitivities increased, I was attracted to the trappings of the emerging holiday; especially the altars. This post is my first Day of the Dead altar, and surprise, it’s all about me! A digital composite of several photos, I created this altar to myself along the lines of traditional altars (minus the religiosity) and because: Why wait?! Read further for a breakdown of the components from top to bottom. To see the photos clearly, click the image once then again …
ser·en·dip·i·ty noun \ ser-ən-ˈdi-pə-tē \ : luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.
SERENDIPITY is also the name of a terrific antique store in the Old Town section of Temecula. They’ve got a very good garden section out back; I found these succulent containers in their green house. Created by Jeanne Garcia, for Rancho Garcia Garden Art, each vintage container boasts a complementary succulent. I was drawn to the diverse good looks of the vessels, with their mix of glazes and textures, and I loved their healthy and equally diverse plants. Unable to decide which I liked most, I took them all — including the amazing exploding swan that got to the cash register late and had to be added on. Lucky I did, too, or there would be an empty slot on my ’60s-era plant stand and the photo wouldn’t be nearly as charming. Discovering these together was a bit of good fortune, but they weren’t my only find that day . . .