MAY 9, 2007
Art In the Garden: Echoes Of a Fading Dream
It is a special space— a place of peace, of privacy, and above all, of life and beauty. Almost every human culture knows and loves this place: the garden. Every common man yearns to enjoy the fruit of the vineyard he plants, and to sit in the shade of his own fig tree. Even kings and queens, while basking in the artificial luxury of royalty, spend their most passionate efforts on building for themselves private retreats of natural splendor (from Babylon's "hanging gardens" to the magnificence of Versailles). The garden is near to the heart of all man's longings.
That first garden, in which man himself had been planted, was a treasure of sensory delight: to the eye, to the nose, to the palate... And the heart, also, delighted in the profound peace and wonder that seemed to rise from the ground like a mist, filling and permeating every part.
Man's universal attraction to the garden is a deep-seated desire to return to that original, and complete, paradise. Each garden created by humans is something of an echo of the original— a subconscious attempt to recapture, to hold onto, those fading sweet dreams of what once was and what should have been. In a similar way, they look forward to that future when the true garden will be restored...
Mankind was not placed in the garden to merely enjoy the abundantly pleasant surroundings (although he most certainly did); he had a purpose, a destiny there. He was given a charge to "tend" the garden. He was to "take care of" it, to watch over it, to treasure and protect it.
And man was given another, and even deeper charge: to "work it." Man was to put his own stamp— his signature— on it. He was given creative rein to plant, to propagate, to prune, to develop this space of beauty. As representative of the garden's original Creator, he too, would "create" in the garden, adding to and extending its beauty, its richness, its wonder. Gardening was the first— the primary— artistic pursuit.
At the core, all of the arts practised by man today harken back to this original. Gardening had, and has, as its goal the desire to create beauty— to enrich and delight the senses, the mind, the spirit. And just as that original art did not spring forth out of a vacuum, the arts today are built upon that which has already been created— extending, developing, furthering that which came before.
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2006 Artist of the Year Exhibition: NBAL Gallery — GARDEN GREEN ON BLUE, © Bill Brockmeier, 2006
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This document was updated on 5/8/07.