Tag Archives: By Colleen Smith

Salvador Dali’s rarely seen botanical prints at Denver Botanic Gardens

Salvador Dali, Gardens of the Mind Exhibit, photo courtesy Denver Botanic Gardens

Salvador Dali taught us that there’s more to life than meets the eye. And while Dali’s surreal art tends to bring to mind warped clocks or Catholic crucifixions, the artist also created several suites of botanical prints. Dali subverted the high-brow seriousness of botanical illustration and put his own spin on the art — sometimes working directly over existing prints.

Working with the librarian at The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL and the art curator at Denver Botanic Gardens, I wrote about the Dali botanicals on exhibit at DBG.

Each slide has commentary to help understand Dali’s art — as if we can understand the wild and dreamy imagination of the artist who believed his inspiration came through the tips of his handlebar mustache. Quirky and colorful and full of mystery, too, have a look at Dali’s fruits and flowers and you’ll never see a peach or a pomegranate or a pansy the same again.

Click here for my article published by Art & Object — no pay wall!

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Coffee: What’s the buzz?

Coast to coast, many Americans—myself included–cannot imagine a day without coffee. But coffee is a vulnerable crop that is, so to speak, in hot water. Coffee cultivation faces many challenges, including climate change. As demand for coffee increases, yields decrease due to increased drought, pests and damaging storms. In addition, coffee lacks genetic diversity. And coffee is linked to many social justice issues, as well. 

In the United States, coffee is produced in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and more recently in California. However, the U.S. Congress allocated funds to expand the USDA’s research and development in 2019, the USDA Coffee and Cacao Crop Germplasm Committee was formed. 

The chair of that committee is Sarada Krishnan, Ph.D., also directs horticulture and global initiatives at Denver Botanic Gardens. “Coffee is an international crop, and it surely is a crop whose sustainability every country needs to address. The entire coffee value chain needs to address sustainability, including consumers,” said Krishnan, who owns coffee farms in Jamaica

One of the foremost authorities on coffee, Krishnan also is working on a coffee research project in Puerto Rico, affected by both hurricanes and earthquakes. Dr. Sarada Krishnan was contracted by World Coffee Research to serve as the lead scientist in a research project to study the feasibility of using solar panels to generate energy for coffee farms while also providing shade for the coffee plants.  

I’ve wanted to interview Dr. Krishnan for years and finally caught up with her. This feature on her and her passion for coffee was published April 11,2021, in The Denver Gazette, and you can read it at this link.

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Ginny Williams’ glass house demolished

Sundial Park, officially Cranmer Park, has long been one of my favorite Denver parks — and we have a lot of cool parks in the Mile High City. I used to walk my dogs there, admired the lavish flower gardens and above all the view of 120 miles of Colorado’s Front Range and the oversized sundial. Sundial Park has been a primo spot for stargazing, watching fireworks, and I’ve conducted a number of interviews there at picnic tables under the large trees. ••• Also, there was the glass house that Ginny Williams’ built. When my walking partner told me that the house was to be torn down, I couldn’t believe it. When we walked past and saw the construction fence around the property and the large machinery, I thought maybe they were adding a swimming pool. But, no. The house was razed. When I posted on Facebook, so many people responded that I knew I needed to pursue a story. The trail let to the architect in New York City, and we had a profound conversation about the glass house he’d designed for the late art doyenne of Denver. The trail also led to a former Historic Denver director who emphasized the need for some protections for such extraordinary buildings. The Denver Gazette published my feature last Sunday, a story about private property and private lives.

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Four of Colorado’s female leaders overcame various disadvantages

ON ASSIGNMENT for Colorado Expression magazine’s annual Women’s Issue, I interviewed a quartet of leaders who overcame adversity and obstacles to assume leadership roles. For the cover story, the magazine featured four Colorado women: a Black woman, two Latinas and an immigrant from Poland.

Oftentimes, the most interesting portions of interviews never get published. We shared some laughs and some tears, too, off the record. My feature appears in the new issue of Colorado Expression.

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