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Art on Site: Madison Museum of Contemporary Art at Olbrich Botanical Gardens

June 1, 2004 – May 31, 2005


Art on Site: Madison Museum of Contemporary Art at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, organized by guest curator David Wells, will bring a series of six site-specific art installations to Olbrich beginning in June 2004 and continuing through spring 2005. Each of the commissioned artists makes natural settings and materials key elements of their artwork.

Installations range from a 45-foot circular flower “painting” to a 12-foot-long mixed-media charm bracelet to a construction of willow branches in Olbrich’s Rock Garden pond. In addition, students from Malcolm Shabazz City High School will work with participating artists to create a summer-long series of mowed designs in Olbrich’s Great Lawn. Art on Site artists include Brenda Baker, Gary Lang, Darwin Nordin and Rebecca Watson, John Ready, and Roy Staab.

Art on Site is the museum’s first group exhibition focusing on site-specific art in an outdoor or garden environment. Each of the participating artists will create a work of art that is inspired by or responds to specific features of the garden or conservatory landscape. Some will use plants as art materials; others will work with materials brought into the garden setting.

Participating Artists

Brenda Baker

Madison, WI

Baker’s recent exhibit in Brazil featured groups of ‘story poles’. She records events from her young sons’ lives on a pole and proceeds to cover the story with layers of wax and paint as the actual event is covered with layers of time and new experiences. Each pole becomes a marker in the accumulation of shared parent/child experience. At Olbrich, Baker will create new works, some incorporating growing materials, which will be installed individually and in groups around the Perennial Garden. Installation will occur in May 2004, and the works will remain on view through late Autumn 2004.

Gary Lang

Ojai, CA

Lang is an internationally renowned painter known for vivid color relationships that challenge the eye as they create a sense of movement. He has recently translated the color language of his large circle paintings into floral gardens. Lang creates Impressionist blends of color by overlapping and intermixing different bloom colors planted together. At Olbrich, Lang’s 45-foot diameter circular garden will be planted adjacent to the building where it can bee seen from inside and out. The garden will be planted in mid-June and remain through Autumn 2004.

Darwin Nordin and Rebecca Watson

,Seattle, WA

Nordin and Watson are artists whose successful art and design business, Sempervivus, has focused on garden design. At Olbrich, Nordin and Watson will create a special garden on both sides of the path to the new Rose Garden; this project will be installed in May 2004 and remain on view through early Spring 2005. They will work with students at Malcolm Shabazz City High School to create a summer-long series of mowed designs in the Great Lawn.

John Ready

La Crescent, MN

Ready is a master mold-maker whose sculptures employ cast materials from metals to plastics to concrete. Working in a found-object tradition, Ready casts everyday and discarded items and combines them to create sculpture on a large scale. Concrete pumpkins and bowling balls hung from log chain become charms on a twelve-foot bracelet. At Olbrich, Ready‘s charms and fobs will grace a series of trees along Starkweather Creek. Installation will take place in August 2004, and the project will remain until Spring 2005.

Roy Staab

Milwaukee, WI

Staab is a master of the poetic gesture. His temporal installations in natural environments utilize reeds, stones, willows or other natural materials from those environments. Often using water as the setting for his installation, Stabb creates works that are timeless and serene. At Olbrich, Staab will bring his ‘walk lightly’ sensibility to the center of the Rock Garden pond with a line of green willows. Installation will take place in May 2004, and the project will remain through winter if conditions permit.