Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Bronx is Blooming

The Bronx is Blooming, and Moore
The Henry Moore Show has just been extended from its original closing date of Nov.2 but still you have no time to lose! On January 11,2009 with a crane and a few flat bed trucks this exhibit is scheduled to move out of the Bronx forever. There’s no better place to see sculpture than in a garden, and no better match-up than the sculpture of Henry Moore (1898-1986) and the landscape of the NY Botanical Garden. Among the gently rolling hills, dramatic rock outcroppings, native forest, rose garden, ornamental conifers and reflecting pool, are twenty massive abstract pieces by the British sculptor. He said “Landscape has been for me one of the sources of my energy… all natural forms are a source of unending interest” and here his chickens have come home to roost.

After seeing the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at the NY Botanical garden two years ago, I had a fervent wish to see sculpture only in garden settings and the Garden graciously obliged with it’s current display.

The leaves in the NYBG landscape get more magnificent by the day and their colors are a perfect foil for the mostly dark sculptures. Late blooming monk’s hood, dahlias, asters, grasses anemone, and chrysanthemums still grace the borders. The sculpture enhances the garden as the garden adds to the sculptures. Although signs everywhere say ‘keep off the grass’ the three-dimensional pieces are obviously meant to be seen from all angles, even stroked, even the most law-abiding viewers like me were blithely ignoring the warnings. This exhibit will travel to the Atlanta Botanical garden in 2009.

Instead of the Children’s Garden
If you bring kids along, after dragging them through the art, go on a treasure hunt for the black cotton (Gossypium herba-
cium ‘Nigra’) now bursting with fluffiness near the Enid Haupt Conservatory. Look on the flower border to the right side of the magnificent structure as you face it. The leaves of cotton are black (well, really maroon), but the cotton is pure white. Most Northerners have never seen cotton growing and you may have to convince the kids that it’s the real deal.

If you go: Visit www.nybg.org for train, bus and driving directions, hours and fees. There is a tram and you can ride to most of the Moore sites, but walking is easy and you get an added sense of discovery. If you don’t mind using your cell minutes, dial in to hear commentary from the curators at many sites. The all- inclusive ticket to the grounds, all of the Moore show, and the tram is a hefty $20 for adults. If you’re willing to forego seeing three of the pieces, opt for the main grounds only ticket, $6 for adults, $5 adult Bronx residents, free on Wednesdays and Sat mornings.

1 comment:

JHopkins said...

I went to this show and though I know both the sculptures and the gardens already, I fell in love with both all over again. The tall conifers talking to the tall totem sculptures, the hills and waves of trees wrapping around the curving abstract figure sculptures--amazing.

BUT the elementary school tour was a problem--the teachers that is, not the kids. The kids got the idea right away and swarmed the sculpture wrapping around all sides, playing hide and seek, chattering and yelping with each other, peeking through the shapes, exploring, making crazy arm movements like the "lady" in the sculpture. The teachers yelled them away--no touching!! There was a sign saying no climbing on the scuplture, and that's fair, for the kids' safety as much as anything else. But no touching!?! Touching is exactly what I did all morning. That's what the kids instinctively did. That's how you feel Moore's subtle textured finishes, that's how you feel the barely visible indents where the eyes would be, that's how you feel cool in the shade and heat in the sun. You can walk right up and feel Moore's creative power, rare in the day of velvet rope museums, but there's no harm to these massive bronze and steel scupltures any more than there's harm in walking across a steel bridge. Anyway, score one for the kids who got it despite their teachers' fear. And hope the teachers and the NYBG school program one day celebrates kids who want to learn.

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