Southern Indiana Living

JUL-AUG 2017

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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July/August 2017 • 11 I 've always found it interesting that "art appreciation" is an academic course, as if you can't appreciate it without about 180 days of classroom training, a couple of museum visits, a long series of pop quizzes and two final exams. Sure, it's a good to understand what it takes to create a masterpiece, the skill, imagination and artistry involved to look at a block of limestone or marble, and then be able to carve away all of it that isn't an angelic face or muscular torso. But that shouldn't require outside information. Your personal appreciation comes first. Gardening is the same thing. We can read books, visit gardens, take classes and, heaven forbid, read garden columns, but like most things that maĴer in life the journey must be made from the inside out. It's your garden. It's your happi- ness. You get to define it. All of this came together for me recently with a new art exhibit installed at our Hidden Hill Nursery & Sculpture Garden. The nursery side of that has been building for years — often at the expense of the sculpture, which did require a lot of outside help. But it was balance we sought for both art and garden. A mix of the two, each one honoring the other. For instance, it's never a good idea to plant thuggish Joe Pye Weed next to mini-marigolds; something will be lack- ing in the aesthetic. Size maĴers. The color paĴerns maĴer. No piece of sculpted art can mitigate that. But art helps. It doesn't have to be complex — or expensive. A brick edging can and will make a difference in a patio garden. A large stone properly placed can make a statement, serve as a transition to another area, solve a weed problem and give neighborhood cats a place to soak up sun. The garden gods have a special reverence for those who haunt junk shops and antique malls for planters, old gates and slightly chipped concrete birdbaths. One of our garden entrances is lined with tall metal flowers made of car parts. I just used a series of hollow locust tree stumps as astilbe and hosta planters. Old wheelbarrows make it to Hidden Hill for a second life as caladium beds. We also had samplings of some very good art created from metal, lime- stone, sculpted wood and ceramic. But then came an offer from a group called the Kentuckiana Outdoor Sculptors Guild to fill our back meadow with some of the best art in the area. The show will be up until early August. It was a satisfying offer. After 17 years in the nursery-art business, the genuine balance was finally at hand. Our classy old trees and shrubs were about to get a taste of their equal in creativity and authenticity. The artwork filed in over a two- week period, some by car, some by pick- up, some requiring modified tow-truck apparatus and even a heavy-duty tractor- lifter thing. Sculptors — like many writers, journalists and painters — are often inse- cure, semi-crazed and preĴy much used to starving, but this group hung together. The result — the completion of this whole nursery and sculpture garden thing — is truly gratifying. The detail, the ability to create passion from stone and marble, really is beyond words, or even pictures. The art speaks to you. Without words. Without movement. Without any guile or subterfuge. Whimsical, serious, comic, foreboding, reverential, comfort- able and even a liĴle silly. Few plants are capable of evoking such emotions. Yet few sculptures can of- fer green stems, bright blue flowers and a rainbow parade of fall colors. Balance. • Bob Hill owns Hidden Hill Nursery and can be reached at farmerbob@ hiddenhillnursery.com. For more information, including nursery hours and event information, go to www.hiddenhillnursery. com About the Author The art speaks to you. Without words. Without movement. Without any guile or subterfuge. Marble Dancer by artist Meg White

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