28 January 2014

Knit, Purl, Sow - Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Eastern Parkway Entrance, Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Detail, entrance gate, and possible floral inspiration.

During a retreat by the Polar Vortex, which has had the US Eastern Seaboard in an icy grip, DH and I took in an unusual exhibit at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). Knit, Purl, Sow was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, putting knitting on the map in a way this fiber medium seldom is, sadly.  The BBG was one of the few cultural institutions open on Martin Luther King, Jr., day and, better still, admission was free.

Tatyana Yanishevsky, Anatomically Correct Hibiscus.

The exhibit, which ran from October, 2013 until January, 2014. was presented in the atrium space of the Steinhardt Conservatory, a rather heavy-handed piece of architecture, but home to the BBG's own Terrace Cafe, where we enjoyed a delicious cauliflower-gruyere quiche, washed down with the Juice of the Day, a ruby blend of carrot, beet, celery and ginger.  Between the juice and the reviving warmth of the conservatory greenhouses it was better than a trip to a Canyon Ranch spa.

Visitors and artwork.

The work impresses in its craftsmanship and use of color and composition, and the unexpected scale of the forms elicited from this viewer a certain frisson of delightful menace - Granny's afghan meets Ridley Scott.  Knitting with an edge.

Tatyana Yanishevsky, Anatomically Correct Passionflower.

Lotus, Ruth Marshall.

Detail, Lotus.

Detail, Lotus.

Knitting goes truly monumental in the work of Ruth Marshall, one of three artists featured in the show; the other two were Tatyana Yanishevsky and Santiago Venegas.

Sweater Turns into Maidenhair Fern, Santiago Venegas.

Tatyana Yanishevsky, Tiger Lily.

Of course, we had to see some actual plants and, no matter the season, it's a gala of form and texture.

 Flower, leaf, stem and bark.

The new Visitor's Center, a green building worthy of the name, has a good gift shop; I was tempted by the wonderful selection of potted plants.

Visitor's Center gift shop.

Many items can be mail ordered.

We bundled up and walked back to the subway station, admiring the garden - leafless, dormant, yet fascinating.

A venerable vine twists and turns sinuously on the orthogonal trellis.

Torii gate in the Japanese garden.
From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens - the garden outdoors, the garden of pots and bowls in the house, and the garden of the mind's eye.
- Katherine S. White