Ursula Von Rydingsvard impressed me for so many reasons. For one thing, she’s friendly and kind and seemingly humble, though she’s one of the most esteemed sculptors of our time. She has a long list of awards and honors and exhibitions and installations. And she’s an octogenarian still making monumental art, with the assistance of her team.
We sat together, just the two of us, in one of the three indoor galleries at Denver Botanic Gardens where her work fit exquisitely.
I had researched the artist and watched her documentary film to prepare for our interview. But nothing prepared me for the power of her art and the power of her story. She’s up there with the most interesting women I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet.
For the feature, I also spoke to the guest curator, Mark Rosenthal, also esteemed in the art world for his impressive curriculum vitae with top tier art museum roles and curation of marquee exhibitions.
In November, Art & Object published my piece about the bronze sculptures in Yoshitomo Saito’s exhibition titled “Of Ground and Sky” at Denver Botanic Gardens. Here’s a link to that article. I was happy to learn at the end of December that one of the sculptures, “Gateway,” a graceful loop of bronze resembling bend aspen branches, had sold. The photo I saw on Facebook, where the artist and I are friends, showed the piece perfectly installed on an ideal site at a major art collector’s home in Denver.
But shortly after, I saw a notification that Yoshi had fallen, broken his back, his femur, and had pneumonia. William Havu Gallery had launched a Go Fund Me campaign, and I made a small donation. Having recovered from serious, life-altering injuries sustained in a skiing crash about six years ago, it was the least I could do, well aware of his long road to recovery. I felt good about helping if only in a small way.
But after I closed the lid of my laptop once my contribution was confirmed, I thought, “What if I write a story?” So I did. With the help of Yoshi’s friend and gallerist and the art curator at Denver Botanic Gardens, I wrote an article for The Denver Gazette, which published my piece ahead of the paywall so it can be easily shared.
Yoshi’s friend, fellow artist Heidi Jung, and his gallerist, Bill Havu, both mentioned to me that because his art is so expensive to create, Yoshi sometimes grinds and melts down sculptures to use the bronze for another casting. “It’s kind of a reincarnation,” said Bill Havu.
Coincidentally, I had recently listened to an audio book titled, “Ikegai,” about Japanese concepts for a purposeful life. Sculpting is Yoshi’s ikegai, and writing is my ikegai — or part of my life’s purpose, at least — and this article came together as a combination of the two. I hope the article will generate more support for the William Havu Gallery’s Yoshitomo Saito Go Fund Me campaign and will provide the artist will succor as he begins his physical therapy and begins his return journey to his studio.
Ana Maria Hernando’s exhibition titled “Fervor” at Denver Botanic Gardens displays the artist’s love of and reverence for nature. Hernando associates the word “fervor” with devotion. She said, “‘Fervor’ has connotations to the spirit. Many times, we think about people praying with fervor — that commitment to action. It’s a word that’s very passionate, and that word brings that passion forward. Nature has fervor. The intent, the vocation for life.”
In her work as a painter and/or sculptor inspired primarily by flowers and fabrics, she has her own fervor, her own intention and vocation and passion.
“I like very much the idea of learning, so I make a lot of mistakes. When I am beginning to work with one material, many things don’t come out the way I want or I intended, but I like that process,” she says. “I like how alive that process is.
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!
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.
Seed saving and propagation stretches any gardening budget.
As August winds down, many gardens are revved up. Now is an ideal time to collect some seeds for next season and take some cuttings to propagate over winter. Saving seeds and propagating plants will stretch your garden budget and give you a green-thumb fix during the dead of winter.
The Denver Post published my article about propagating plants, and the piece includes lots of tips from the woman known as “the Propagation Queen” at Denver Botanic Gardens. You may read the article here.
Easy seeds to save include hollyhocks, cosmos, marigolds, and many other annuals and bi-annuals. You might want to take cuttings from zonal geraniums, angel wing begonias, succulents, or herbs such as sage and rosemary. All you need is a sunny window or some grow lights, and you’ll have an indoor garden.
The best part is when spring comes and you have plants ready to go outdoors without purchasing them.