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Pollinator Poppycosh!

Aside from a spelling variation of a certain culinary dish, the modern use of “poppycosh” is the description of a random shout of joy.  Why Pollinator Poppycosh?  It’s that time of year to celebrate pollinators (and it’s fun to say)!  National Pollinator Week is June 20 – 26, 2011.

A pollinator by definition is any sort of animal that carries pollen from one seed plant to another, unwittingly aiding the plant in its reproduction.  Most pollinators do this in the process of feeding off of the nectar of the plant.  This busy process has resounding effects.  The pollinated blossoms mature to fruits that feed wildlife and people and insure the genetic diversity on our planet.

Here at the IMA, our 152 acre campus is filled with gardens of diverse plantings.  Not only does this create a year-round experience for our visitors, but it provides a lush habitat for pollinators.  The IMA’s Horticulture staff has also purposefully introduced pollinators on the grounds of the museum.  If you’re a follower of Irvin Etienne’s blogs, you’ve probably read about our honey bees.  It’s been quite the experience for us as we learn to care for and manage the hive properly!

A healthy hive of honey bees can house upwards of 40,000 – 80,000 bees at one time.  About 98% of those thousands of bees are worker bees; the ones out each day working in our gardens.

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Filed under: Art and Nature Park, Horticulture


It’s in the Genes

Today's guest blogger is Cindy Frey, Associate Director at the Columbus Visitors Center.

Members of the Miller family, in an act of incredible generosity, have donated their childhood home, along with an endowment, to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  If one examines the extraordinary lives of Mr. and Mrs. Miller, it is easy to understand why the children chose to make this unique work of art, a heralded collaboration between Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard and Daniel Urban Kiley, available for public enjoyment. It’s in the genes.

Time and time again, the Millers made generous gifts that would enhance the quality of life of the citizens of Columbus, Indiana. While their support of great architecture is widely known, their gifts of public art have made an equally profound impact on their hometown.

Henry Moore’s, "Large Arch," Columbus Indiana, 1971.

Mr. and Mrs. Miller were great fans of English sculptor Henry Moore (1889 – 1986) and his work was part of their personal art collection. In 1971, two years after I.M. Pei completed his Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, the Millers watched proudly as the five-and-a-half-ton Large Arch, by Moore, was lifted off a flatbed truck by a crane and set into place on the library’s plaza. It was commissioned and purchased by the Millers to provide a visual anchor to the plaza. Its organic form offers a perfect contrast to the geometric shapes of Pei’s library and Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church. Today, it is possibly the most photographed feature in all of Columbus.
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Filed under: Local, Miller House, Road Trip


Hot Damn!

The weather has been somewhat brutal this past week, not that we Horticulturists at the IMA are the only ones suffering. But mercy! You can just stand still and sweat like crazy. Plus, I am always amazed at how soil can go from such a water surplus to such a water deficit in such an incredibly short time. But we have moved right along through the heat to get the Spring planting finished.

Sometimes before we can put one group of plants in we have to remove another group. This is of course most common in the annual areas. One of my major annual plantings is the Cutting Garden next to the Greenhouse. Most years I only do a summer planting there but this year we had the Garden Club of America national meeting in Indianapolis. Something had to be done for an earlier show. In these still rough economic times, buying enough pansies or other Spring ornamental to cover the whole area was out of the question. So what to do? Mix it up and make it work. I bought some pansies for a few spots so there would be instant color. For the rest of the area? Lettuce. Direct sown lettuce.

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Filed under: Art and Nature Park, Horticulture


Girard at Miller House

Our guest blogger today is Brad Dunning, a designer known for working on architecturally significant properties, restorations and contemporary design. Besides his own designs he has worked on homes by such architects as Richard Neutra, Wallace Neff, Quincy Jones, Albert Frey, John Lautner, and many others.

Miller House conversation pit.

I am much more of a fan of Alexander Girard’s than necessarily a scholar, but while I was researching my talk for the Miller House Symposium last week, I came across so many interesting facts that puts Girard firmly in the most important crosshairs of 20th Century design history.  From his rarefied upbringing in Florence, Italy to somehow ending up in Detroit in the late 30s as a young man out of college, to his fortuitous meeting with Charles Eames (when both of them were designing modern bent plywood radio cabinets), his talent was always a leading beacon for the zeitgeist and trail-blazing he is now famous for.  Probably because his interiors were more ephemeral (most are now gone), his product output was relatively small, and his humble lack of self-promotion generated less press, but Girard has, to date, been a bit more under the radar.  However,  his position at the top of the Mt. Olympus of Design is well-deserved and secure.

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Filed under: Design, Miller House


Miller House Symposium / Suzanne Stephens

As one of the presenters at IMA’s Miller House Symposium, I may sound rather biased. Nevertheless I would say it was one of more interesting symposiums in which I have participated. Craig Miller, the design arts curator at the museum ingeniously decided that rather than having a full roster of historians all present didactic disquisitions about the Miller House in Columbus, he would have two historians place the house in differing historical contexts, and then ask three practitioners to discuss their own perspectives on each of the major designers (Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard and Dan Kiley) who were involved in creating this significant contribution to residential architecture in Columbus, Indiana in 1959.

The presentations offered a varied and substantive range of approaches to appreciating the Miller House’s creators: Brad Dunning included four animated videos relating to Alexander Girard’s work, all of which were smashing. Deborah Berke talked about her long admiration of Saarinen’s architecture with an emphasis on his small output of designs for residential design. It was illuminating, particularly from her own perspective as an architect. Laurie Olin discussed his affinity to the landscape design of Dan Kiley by showing Kiley’s architectural orientation in his work. (Like Olin, Kiley studied architecture before turning to landscape design.)

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Filed under: Design, Guest Bloggers, Miller House, The Collection


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