Symbiotic relationships

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Guests arrive for the opening reception of “Symbiosis,” showing through Oct. 30 at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, Mass.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022. Mother Nature presented us yesterday with a perfect city day in August — with the temps in the high 60s (!!!). And cloudy. So it was cool and comfortable. It warmed up to the mid-70s by nightfall. Beautiful weather; Nature’s reward for our patience is one way of looking at it.

Today we’re giving you more of that pleasure. Our friend Beth Rudin DeWoody — who is very well known in the Art World as a major collector of modern contemporary art has curated a show at the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s ART/GARDEN 2022, entitled “Symbiosis.” You know the word? I had to look it up.

“Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.” That’s a good word for Beth because in her life she brings it about and around her.

Visitors to Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, Mass., enjoy the outdoor art, part of the season-long “Symbiosis” exhibition, which runs through Oct. 30. This piece, Wade Tullier’s “Double Owl Figure w/ Stump, Fruits, Hand, an Drop” (2022) is composed of ceramic and glaze.

Mrs. DeWoody and I are old friends, the kind you make when you’re a young adult in New York. She was first out of college — UC Santa Barbara. We met through our mutual friend Bob Schulenberg here in New York. When you’re young and first out there meeting people, whatever your personal interests and attitudes, you can meet extraordinary and creative individuals in New York. Beth’s a native. She has always had an eye and a sense of being — as a collector; and as an audience.

She’s by nature a collector of images and books. Although she never considered herself an artist, I have a watercolor or a small garden of flowers that she did when she was thirteen, and it is really good. You can see the maiden talent in the artist in that painting. I am in no way an art critic, but her eye and her hand made a bright and beautiful garden of nature’s colors.

The curator for Berkshire Botanical Garden’s “Symbiosis,” Beth Rudin DeWoody, with one of her favorite up-and-coming artists, Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.). They stand in front of his work “Magic Song (icaro #4)” (2021), made from feathers, quills, ink, collage, and mica on wood panel.

In the early 1970s she married the artist, Jim DeWoody, and being a very young woman, she was meeting that world of the arts and it was a natural for her. The collector’s development is demonstrated in what she collects. She is in The Now.

She now has her own museum, The Bunker Art Space in West Palm Beach, which is where she houses much of her vast collection and presents exhibitions by appointment. Her presence in Palm Beach with The Bunker has expressed to the re-awakening of Palm Beach as a metropolitan area in South Florida.

A highlight for attendees of the opening reception for “Symbiosis” was Paul Villinski’s “Essence” (2019), made from aluminum (found cans), steel, rivets, and enamel. “I try to practice a ‘simple alchemy,’ attempting to give these cast-off, ‘worthless’ objects surprising new identities, to infuse their stories with new layers of meaning,” Villinski said.
Villinski continued, “The beauty that interests me most comes through the struggle to bring things from a place of loss, poverty, despair, into a new life — to insist on the possibility of transformation. I want to take these humble, damaged, discarded things and find out what they are capable of — what can be done with imagination, commitment, risk, labor — with enough love. My work is an exploration of the possible, at the heart of which is hope.”

This exhibition in the Leonhardt Galleries includes outdoor sculptures, and indoor artwork in the Leonhardt Galleries. Beth is “thrilled to continue her ongoing collaboration with the Berkshire Botanical Garden — this time with ’Symbiosis’. She also curated last year’s “Taking Flight” sculpture exhibit at Berkshire Botanical Garden.

Beth explained, “Throughout my collecting, I see patterns in the works that artists are creating. This exhibition focuses on the natural world and the relationships among living things and is reflective of what I have been seeing within the greater art world.”

Chairman of The Rudin Family Foundations and Executive Vice President of Rudin Management, Beth is also the Vice Chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art and Life Trustee at The New School in New York City. Her board affiliations also include Empowers Africa, Save A Child India, Inc, The Glass House in New Canaan, Conn., and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles

Among the most prominent artists of the past century, Kiki Smith has lent her work to Berkshire Botanical Garden’s “Symbiosis.” Smith creates artworks in various media that cross the natural and spiritual worlds, gender and sexuality, and birth and regeneration. Her work has been the subject of over 25 museum exhibitions worldwide and featured in five Venice Biennales. “Sungrazer IX” (above) represents Smith’s latest exploration of patinated bronze. Though the sculpture is rendered in a sturdy medium, the delicacy that Smith is known for — in her drawings, collages, and other two-dimensional work — is evident within the details of the piece. Fascinated by the immense complexities of the cosmos, Smith further explores this through “Sungrazer”, by giving shape to the movement and brilliance of the stars.

The first of three indoor “Symbiosis” exhibits this season in BBG’s Leonhardt Galleries ran through July 24, and featured works by Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.), Ann Craven, Michele Benjamin, William Binnie, DABSMYLA, Robert Davis, E.V. Day, Jordan Doner, Walton Ford, Daniel Gordon, Karen Gunderson, Judi Harvest, Steven & William Ladd, Lee Relvas, Kathy Ruttenberg, Sean Mellyn, Dana Sherwood, Alan Sonfist, Ana María Velasco, Paul Villinski, LeRone Wilson, Rob Wynne, and Firooz Zahedi.

“Symbiosis” would not have been possible without the support from Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo (left), a member of Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Board of Trustees. Joanne has helped make the Leonhardt Galleries here a world-class art exhibition space.

The second indoor exhibition will run through Sept. 11, featuring works by Christopher Adams, Charles Arnoldi, L.C. Armstrong, Madeleine Bialke, David Brooks, Leidy Churchman, Peter  Dayton, Margot Glass, Mimi Gross, Paula Hayes, Robert Hawkins, Marc Horowitz, Kathy Klein, Seffa Klein, Nancy  Monk, Charles Ray, Tomás Saraceno, Max Hooper Schneider, Katherine Sherwood, Simone Shubuck, Coleen Sterritt, and Tabboo!

The third indoor exhibition will run from Sept. 16 through Oct. 30, and feature works by John McAllister, Lou Beach, Mitchell Charbonneau, Helen Chung, Elliot Green, Adler Guerrier, Sophia Heymans,  Marsia Holzer, Max Jansons, Poppy Jones, Iran Issa-Khan, Lacey Leonard, Matt Murphy, Peter Nadin, Rose Nestler,  Jonathan Peck, Alexandra Penney, Rob Raphael, Megumi Shinozaki, Celina Teague, Wade Tullier, Elizabeth  Thompson, Henry Vincent, Gabrielle Vitollo, Shanna Waddell, Faith Wilding, and Anna Zemánková.

Visitors to Berkshire Botanical Garden’s summer-long exhibition “Symbiosis” study Judi Harvest’s work titled, “3 Honey Vessels” (2013), from handmade Murano glass, gold leaf and wire.
Among the stunning works in Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Leonhardt Galleries is Sean Mellyn’s “Atmospheric Pressure” (2022), a photo transfer and gouache on two sheets of paper.
LeRone Wilson stands beside his work “Neter” (2022), made from honeycomb, beeswax, honey, and propolis on wire. “I use a natural material that comes from nature. This piece is homage to that material, the honeycomb, created to rest in this botanical setting as part of the nature that created it,” he said. “My Work represents a medley of different textures that stimulate the senses, making the art not just a thing of beauty to be admired from a distance, but something we can feel connected to through the expression of touch.  It’s a way of revealing an image without actually being able to control it, letting it come about itself.”
E.V. Day, by her sculpture titled, “Pollinator” (2011). Day explained that her work replicates the reproductive organs of flowers from Claude Monet’s garden and lily pond in Giverny, France. In the Summer of 2010, as the Munn Artist-in-Residence of the Versailles Foundation, Day had access to these living treasures, grown from the same seed strains that Monet propagated when he was living there. Day followed the gardeners at Giverny in their rounds at daybreak, as they clipped the fleurs fanées (fading flowers) and also the blooms that were at their most colorful, vigorous peak but wouldn’t survive the heat of the morning sun. She sifted through the gardeners’ wheelbarrows for these latter blooms and preserved those specimens by means of a microwave flower-press. She scanned the best of each flower variety into a two-dimensional image, creating a memorial of sorts to the flowers’ life-giving role. From these scans, Day then used digital-processing and three-dimensional modeling to reconstitute each flower, reconstructing them into sculptural forms with weight and mass. The ephemeral, fleeting quality of the flowers Monet planted has been transformed into a monumental and rigid tribute. Fixed, everlasting, and transportable, these massive flowers transcend geographical specificity; they’ve flown beyond the garden walls at Giverny, but remain symbols of the powerful environment of fecundity and fertility Monet created more than a hundred years ago. With their polished, metallic surfaces, these sculptures become, both literally and figuratively, places for reflection about reproduction and replication, about endurance and timelessness, and about using technology to give an evanescent life form a futuristic, alternate existence.
Taking in the exhibition.
Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Art/Garden series “Symbiosis” includes Michele Oka Doner’s cast bronze statue “Mana” (2015). Deriving from Melanesian and Polynesian culture, mana is the spiritual energy and forces of nature that infuse the universe. In “Mana,” Doner reimagines this energy into a headless figure seemingly made of roots, vines and bark. Sculptures in this series are first molded by those organic materials, then cast in bronze. The earthy coloring gives the appearance that the figure has been naturally patinated with time, walking amongst the trees. Michele Oka Doner has created more than 40 public and private permanent art installations, including A Walk On The Beach, a mile-plus-long bronze and terrazzo concourse at Miami International Airport.
Michele Oka Doner at the opening reception.
At the opening reception for “Symbiosis,” Lee Relvas (left) explains her sculpture “Heck” (2021), made of plywood, epoxy putty, flashe paint, evolon, hollytex (archival textiles), and rubber bands.
Among the guests at the opening reception for Berkshire Botanical Garden’s “Symbiosis” were Mitch and Caitlin Nash, designers behind Blue Q. They are checking out Daniel Gordon’s “Begonia Leaves and Seashells” (2021) made of pigment print with UV lamination.
Dana Sherwood explains her work “The Confectionery Lives of Snails” (2017) made of glass dome, organic matter and snails. This work is included in the first of three indoor exhibitions in Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Art/Garden “Symbiosis,” curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody.
Beth Rudin DeWoody, with the artist William Burton Binnie and Laura Dvorkin.

“Symbiosis” was produced by Laura Dvorkin, co-curator of The Bunker Artspace and the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection.


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