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What’s Blooming?

What’s blooming? Everything. NOW! It’s crazy beyond reason but to be expected after this weather pattern we’ve been experiencing. To think that normally we hope for 60’s so it will feel warm outside and this year it’s hoping for 60’s so it will feel cool outside. It’s a situation pushing hard into stupid. Is the weather glorious? Oh, you bet your booty it is.

One of the major problems though is losing the luxury of Spring garden work being stretched out over a period of many weeks. Instead of doing this in mid-March and that in late April, it seems all things are needing to be done at once. I had hoped for more time to transplant various perennials for instance. As in transplanting at their ideal growth stage, generally while growth is still quite small. Well, that brilliant plan is under heavy siege. Now it’s more like – gotta do it and hope for the best. And things will be fine. Some may look a little rough after transplanting. Some may not perform at their best this year. But over all they will be fine. And that is just the reality of gardening. Conditions are not going to be ideal every year or even every day. You adapt to the situation same as the plants do. Or not sometimes.

What’s blooming? Redbud. Crabapple. Lilac. Silverbell. Kerria. Magnolia. Viburnum. Fothergilla. Flowering quince. Dogwood. Red buckeye. Rhododendron. Flowering cherry. Apple. ALL at the SAME time! Redbuds are easily a month ahead of their usual bloom time. As are the silverbells and lilacs.

So what to do? I strongly suggest getting out there and just wallowing in all the gorgeousness of the situation. You never know what tomorrow’s weather may bring.

Magnolia ‘Coral lake’

Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ (compact Koreanspice viburnum)

Cercis canadensis ‘Appalachian Red’ (redbud)

Cercis canadensis ‘Covey’/Lavender Twist® (weeping redbud)

Rhododendron ‘Aglo’ (probably)

Kerria japonica ‘Golden Guinea’

Fothergilla major

Aesculus pavia (red buckeye)

Cornus florida variety rubra (pink/red flowering dogwood)

Cornus florida

Syringa vulgaris (lilac)

Malus ‘Bob White’ (crabapple)

Malus ‘Prairifire’ (crabapple)

Filed under: Horticulture


Spring Comes Early at Miller House

Typically at this time of year, I am planning April and May photography dates for our historic grounds and gardens, 100 Acres Art and Nature Park, and the Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana.

The absence of any substantial winter weather in the state, combined with spring temperatures ten to twelve degrees higher for the month of March, has produced an accelerated blooming and photography season.

The transition to daylight savings time on the 11th, in conjunction with the vernal equinox on the 20th, and summer like heat of the past two weeks, has created a perfect storm of urgency for photographers.

The most pressing concern was the quick budding and blooming of our lovely magnolias on the east and south locations of the Miller House. A missed blooming season, albeit a short one, means waiting another year to capture these lovelies at their peak and the threat of a cold front or good spring rainstorm made my decision an easy one. April be damned, I’m all in.

Timing, patience, and good light are everything in photography, and my early morning visit to Columbus this week provided another uniquely pleasant experience to photograph a visually diverse residence, inside and out.

Each visit is more compelling and interesting than the previous and I can’t help but imagine how wonderful it must have been to live and flourish as children in these spaces.

These images of the magnolia blooms were captured on the first day of Spring. The Miller House and Garden is now open for tours, so get down there and experience this all-too-fleeting moment for yourself.


Filed under: Art and Nature Park, Miller House, Photography


Down to Each Pore and Cell

Our guest blogger today is Michael Burke, co-founder of paperStrangers Performance Group.

Tawara Yūsaku, Untitled, (Ichi, 95), from Sora (Sky) series, 2001.

Inspired by the ink works of Japanese artist Tawara Yūsaku on view at IMA, I developed a performance piece called He She They (a duet).  It’s a physical exploration of the notion that the beauty of the whole is found in the appreciation of individual parts. The work of Tawara Yūsaka, while small on paper, packs a large impact when you notice that every mark on the page is a specific choice and each of these moments amounts to a greater purpose.

Each line and every dot vibrate in two dimensions, and it is this motion in the ink drawings that inspired He She They (a duet). We wanted to take Yūsaka’s reflection on the parts of whole from the page and transfer it to the human form, or translate it on to the body. This work examines two individuals coming together and offering each other their own pieces and parts – down to each pore and cell.

There will be multiple performances between 2 and 4 pm this Saturday, March 24.  You’re invited to follow the 10-minute performance as it progresses and unwinds through the galleries; be sure to stay to immerse yourself in this transfixing exhibition.

Filed under: Art, Exhibitions, Public Programs


Printmakers in the Cafés of Paris

A new print installation at the IMA explores Pont-Aven School artists’ interest in the cafés, cabarets, and dance halls of Paris, and their engagement with the most innovative portrayer of nightlife in fin-de-siècle Paris, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.  The prints reveal the attention that Pont-Aven School artists paid to the pleasures and entertainments of modern urban life as an alternative to the nostalgic, rural Breton themes for which they are generally known.

The Pont-Aven School formed around Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard in the 1880s and 1890s in the French province of Brittany. The artists in this circle were attracted to the rugged landscape and the colorful traditions of the Breton people served as inspiration. While the Pont-Aven artists are mostly known for their Breton scenes, they also reveled in the intellectual and social life of Paris. They visited galleries, attended concerts and plays, and gathered in the cafés and cabarets frequented by other artists, writers, and philosophers.

Many of the avant-garde artists of Paris focused on the cafés and dance halls of Montmartre, the working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of the city that became the heart of a lively, bohemian, racy entertainment industry that lured thrill-seeking audiences. Cheap rents in the neighborhood attracted up-and-coming artists and performers to move there, and find their subjects there. Raucous Montmartre—with its unbridled, tawdry, garish, provocative energy—was both their lifestyle and their artistic subject.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901), "At the Moulin Rouge: A Rude! A True Rude!," 1893. Lithograph. Gift of Phillipa Hughes, 2004.166

Born into an aristocratic family, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec began to draw at an early age and after injuries and disease left him partially disabled and socially marginalized, he embarked on a career as an artist. He moved to Montmartre in 1886, where he concentrated on documenting the characters of bohemian Paris. In paintings, prints, and drawings, he excelled at capturing people in their working environment, and at capturing crowd scenes populated by highly individualized figures. His compositions strip individuals down to their most salient physical characteristics in a manner that is both sympathetic and dispassionate.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901), "May Milton," 1895. Color lithograph. Gift of Frances B. and J. William Julian, 2003.110.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s bold poster designs secured lasting fame for an intriguing assortment of café-concert performers in Paris.  In fact, the fame of the English dancer May Milton rests almost entirely on Toulouse-Lautrec’s poster. According to critics, Milton, known as the “English Miss,” was short on both talent and physical beauty. Rather than idealize her appearance, Toulouse-Lautrec highlights her unusual physical features as a means of creating a visual identity for the dancer, so that her strong jaw and high kicks are instantly recognizable.

The artists of the Pont-Aven School were influenced not only by Toulouse-Lautrec’s subject matter, but also by his style. Their Parisian prints share Toulouse-Lautrec’s caricature-like treatment of faces, swiftly sketched contour lines, flattened forms, and layering of light and dark forms in order to create a sense of space and depth.

Armand Séguin may have met Toulouse-Lautrec through their mutual friend and colleague Emile Bernard. However the artistic contact came about, Séguin’s café themes are indebted to Toulouse-Lautrec.

Armand Séguin (French, 1869-1903), "The Café," 1893. Etching, aquatint and roulette. Gift of Samuel Josefowitz in tribute to Brett Waller and Ellen Lee, 1998.219.

A distinct difference in style exists between Séguin’s prints of Paris themes and his Pont-Aven subjects (see Primavera and Evening or The Gleaner, among other examples in the IMA’s collection). Paul Gauguin had commented on this stylistic difference, criticizing that the Paris works were too much like posters or caricatures.[1] In Séguin’s The Café, flat patterns silhouetted against each other create convoluted, twisting forms. The exuberant drawing style and caricatural features of the figures are reminiscent of works by Toulouse-Lautrec. The women who populate Séguin’s cafés are lightly flirtatious, but the looming dark forms and the sense of agitation created by the rhythmic lines render the atmosphere of the scenes vaguely sinister.

Printmakers in the Cafés of Paris is on view in the Jane H. Fortune Gallery through August.

[1] Paul Gauguin, “Préface,” Armand Seguin, Le Barc de Boutteville Gallery (exh. cat).), Paris, 1895, p. 10.

Filed under: Art, The Collection


Water, Water, Everywhere

Our guest blogger today is Jessica Larson. Jessica is co-owner and operator of Indianapolis Soft Water and Bottle Free Indy (

My two sons have a special connection with water. They love doing what little boys do: toss sticks and rocks into the creek and squeal with delight at the splash. Spot turtles, frogs, and other critters. Let their imaginations run wild.

They’re sea captains and big-game fishermen. They’re explorers. They’re adventurers.

They learn so much about the world around them in just one muggy, summer afternoon. Every year, I watch them grow, become a little bolder, skip stones just a little further than ever before.

Water. Yes, we need it for basic survival, but it means so much more to us.  It shapes the way we speak (when was the last time you were “in over your head” or “all at sea”?), the way we play, and where we build our cities and homes.

Water affects our lives on so many levels. The ancient Egyptians knew just what I’m talking about. The flooding of the Nile brought life to the Egyptians by making their land fertile. Because of this, they worshipped the river.  Do we still hold water in such a high regard today?

Worldwide, approximately one in eight people lacks access to safe water. Nearly four million people die each year from water-related illnesses, including one child every twenty seconds. Women worldwide spend 200 million hours a day collecting water. But corporate control of drinking water, the growth of the bottled water industry, pollution, and water shortages from droughts are all part of a growing global water crisis.

March 22 is World Water Day, a global day to remind us that we all share the same water. From the White River to rainwater harvested in Africa, all water is part of the water cycle. Around the world, events are held to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources, on both global and local levels.

Bringing awareness to our local water system is just what artist Mary Miss is doing. Miss’s project, FLOW: Can You See the River?, reveals key aspects of our White River water system through a series of installations (marked by oversized, shiny red map pins) along the river and the canal.

Mary Miss, "FLOW: Can you See the River?" 2011.

FLOW shows us how the ordinary activities of citizens like you and me affect the health and future of the White River water system.

Projects like FLOW and World Water Day remind us that water is a resource. It’s finite. It has to be cherished. I’m committed to living a sustainable lifestyle, doing what I can to make sure our rivers, lakes, and streams are clean for future generations.

We all have a special connection with water. I want my boys, now and when they’re grown, to be able to keep theirs.

What’s your reason for protecting Indiana’s water? The world’s water? Visit to find out what you can do to raise awareness and help preserve one of our most precious resources.


Filed under: Art and Nature Park, Contemporary, Guest Bloggers, Local


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