Lotusland gardens provide muse for local artists
“Sanctuary: From the Garden, for the Garden,” an art sale and gallery exhibition to benefit Ganna Walska Lotusland, will open Thursday, which is Earth Day, and continue through May 3.
It can be viewed online at www.lotusland.org/sanctuary or in person at GraySpace Gallery, 219 Gray Ave., in the Funk Zone.
On display are the works of 36 local artists who were invited to create new pieces inspired by the gardens at Lotusland. They were given three days to visit the Montecito site and eight weeks to create, capture and complete their muse.
Blakeney Sanford, Paulo P. Lima, Baret Boisson and Jessica June Avrutin were among the artists who responded.
“Lotusland has always been a sanctuary for me, a source of inspiration, magic and creative vision connected to the farthest reaches of the natural world. It seems only fitting that ‘The Portals’ would emerge within this fantastical space. I am grateful to have had time alone in the garden to create for ‘Sanctuary,’ witnessing the light change and the thoughtful gardens come to life. I am honored to be included as an artist in support of Lotusland and the unique experiences that this treasure provides for our community,” said Ms. Sanford, whose work is titled “The Portals: An Entrance-Lotusland.”
Mr. Lima’s inspiration to create “The Lady of the Lake,” a paper mache sculpture, came from various gardens at Lotusland.
“The tranquility of the Japanese garden with its koi fish and serene pond reminded me of the Buddhist traditions I grew up with. The koi fish and the Buddha images around the garden inspired me to design a figure that symbolizes balance,” said Mr. Lima. “As I meandered through the property, I came across the lotus pond. I could not resist the symbolic image of the lotus flowers and lilies, which grow out of the muddiest ponds into beautiful and strong beings.
“Living as an artist during the pandemic reminds me a lot about that idea of something great (and beautiful) emerging from the darkest times. With my design, I am striving to create a mystical figure that embodies tranquility, balance, hope and a positive attitude towards adversity. I hope she can find a wonderful home to go to.”
Ms. Boisson created “ETAERIO,” using acrylic, oil, ink and glitter on canvas.
“Creating a piece for this Lotusland show during this time in history presented itself with the acute awareness of the trauma we’ve collectively experienced over the past year. And while the lotus flower remains the perfect metaphor for regeneration and rebirth, I was drawn to the lotus pod for this piece instead,” she said.
“To be sure, never has the ‘pod’ been more relevant during this time of semi-isolation. We’ve been living in our pods, celebrating our pods, and children have been attending school within their pods. So the painting is really an ode to this period in time, a marker that we have all been in this together and a celebration of resilience.”
For Ms. Avrutin, “walking alone through Lotusland on those quiet Monday mornings felt like falling into a secret world. It was truly sensory overload at every turn — layers upon layers of colors and textures and smells.”
She has four watercolors in the show: “Cycad Garden,” “Estate Entrance,” “Rose Parterre” and “Path to Aloe Garden.”
Other participating artists include R. Nelson Parrish, Michael Adcock, Taiana Giefer, Skip Smith, Meredith Brooks Abbott, Phoebe Brunner, Robert Abbott, Rick Garcia, Leslie Lewis Sigler, Ruth Ellen Hoag, Joan Rosenberg-Dent, Kerrie Smith, Michael Haber, Lindsey Ros, Manjari Sharma, Bobbi Bennett, Connie Connally, Inga Guzyte, Maria Rendon, Cara Bonewitz, Lynda Weinman, Erika Carter, Cathy Moholm, Luis Alberto Velazquez, Sophie Gibbing, George Leo Sanders, Ro Snell, Olivia Joffrey, Lily Hahn, Whitney Hansen, Whitney Brooks Abbott and Ryan Shand.
Ashley Woods Hollister and Casey Turpin volunteered to curate the show.
“Our goal was to contribute to the success of Lotusland’s horticultural care, as well as providing education to others about best practices and philosophies to support sustainability,” said Ms. Hollister, who has supported local artists through her work with Art From Scrap and as the former director of the Morris Squire Foundation.
Ms. Turpin is an avid volunteer in the Insectary Garden at Lotusland.
Funds raised at the sale support Lotusland’s sustainability programs, which promote and teach individuals, groups, gardeners and institutions about the best methods and practices in horticulture, environmental responsibility and stewardship.
“In response to the pandemic and the shortfalls we experienced as a result, we needed to rethink fundraisers. With a desire to connect the community to our mission, we dreamed up this concept for a new benefit event with participating artists from our region,” said Rebecca Anderson, Lotusland executive director.
“We view this online sale and show as a way to foster connection with Lotusland’s supporters, to engage and encourage local artists and to sustain the garden’s important sustainability programs.”