Found in New York: A Pop Up Park

” It’s very important to pass on what you know, to pass on new things, things you found out. If I tell my “secrets” very quickly, then I have to find some new secrets. And so, it keeps me always on the edge — always trying something else. Passing on information is one part of your obligation of being a professional; you have to give back to your milieu.”

– Louise Genest, Book Artist. Collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa.

I like that thought as it applies to the art I share on this page.

This Thanksgiving Day I also want to share with you just one of the wonders I found out about on a recent trip to NYC.

The Highline is a mile-and-a-half long park, sculpture garden, walkway, viewing platform and nature sanctuary created from disused overhead rail lines, long ago abandoned to Nature who, left to her own devices, abundantly populated the rail tracks with small trees, bushes, grasses and wildflowers (no weeds, of course). A Pop Up Park! When this quirky haven was threatened with demolition, a few committed folk of vision and energy worked hard and long with an inspired community to save it, redesign it and create The Highline.

The idea was to plant the old rail tracks with grasses, groundcovers, wildflowers, bushes and small trees – many of them natives, especially species that had survived well along the tracks previously. The planting style is loose (though not chaotic), with a “wild meadow” feel…Just think how daring that idea is, meadows and fields among the skyscrapers:

Birches and (?) serviceberries

Echinacea among grasses:

Coreopsis among grasses:

Black Eyed Susans among grasses:

Not sure of this bush but it looks rather rhodo-ish:

Sculptures are an integral part of the planting designs: each successive planted area is companioned with sculptures that relate to the planting themes. This charming stretch recalls a prehistoric era by the use of partly concealed stone figures intended to recall dinosaurs hiding among stands of vegetation. It was fun watching the kids on The Highline trying to spot shy dinos!

A “textiles” art highlight for me is the in-process work by El Anatsui using sheets of rusted metals to construct a huge metal tapestry partially on an adjacent wall behind one of the track gardens. (The old rail tracks brought freight cars to warehouses so The Highline is hemmed in by brick walls quite tightly in stretches)



And then there are the views from the heights: The white criss- crosses are simply reflections of the low late afternoon sun from window glass in the building opposite “Heavenly Body Works”…and that little green pacman thingy is a sculpture…does anyone recall the artist? I understand he has many others around the world like this, a kind of Banksy art:

Beautiful brick and stone works:

Some great sight lines at the start of The Highline at 30th St./8th Ave.:

Across to the Chelsea Piers:

More great skylines viewed through greenery:

The tracks themselves suggested a sculptural approach to hardscape for the plantings:


And one last iconic view from The Highline, a special surprise as you approach the end of the line – the Lovely Lady Liberty!

…and a final wish for Thanksgiving:

Have FUN !!!… like this next Lovely Lady with a special headdress who will be cooking her first US TG this year:

And a last, last look at The Highline….

Next post: NYC art with a textile sensibility


Eco Carving

My vote for best Hallowe'en pumpkin, seen on Hilson Avenue, Ottawa.

Wee Dragon Grandson learned the Trick Or Treat rules…e.g., Wait until door opens before saying “Trick Or Treat” …No need to march into the kitchen in search of the Smarties…Grab only ONE huge handful from the bowl of candy…No pushing to the head of the line- up and shoving the other kids to the back…Do not try to get Mama to carry the loot home…

Same avenue, Spookiest House, canisters of fake smoke, neon-light ghosts….Grandson, Daughter and Nana in the mist…Grandson (on the left, low down), hauling a suitcase of candy, dragon- wings sticking out…

One should not forget the joy


October Eco Prints on Paper

The leaves are falling fast – only a few short weeks remain for collecting them freshly-Fallen. Here is a selection of prints I made during October plus one or two from LAST October, 2011, overprinted as “what-ifs”

Sweet Gum leaves over last falls's cotinus. After a year, the cotinus have faded a little, but mostly with blues having become grey-blues.

Japanese Maple, Oak and Chokecherry (prunus virginiana). This fall, the Japanese Maples gave not only blues, greens and greys but lilacs and even rose-lilac.

FYI re the colours in the photos: Shot RAW, edited for size and converted to jpgs, emailed to my iPad ( it hates RAW) and “enhanced” (as usual). The colours are still truly lovely face to face, never mind the editing.

Another “retrouvailles” print: a 2011 cotinus acts as ghostly backdrop to Maple (acer saccharum), new Cotinus, Purple Sandcherry (those darkly characteristic ripples)and Japanese Maple. Not sure which variety. Some of the old Cotinus prints “washed” browns over the surface.

A fresh oak print, not long in the steamer, gave the “sketched line” and blotchy spots-look here. That print was overprinted (i.e., steamed again with new leaves) with Japanese Maple (teal green) and a smidge of Red Cabbage for some trusted blues. Experience is beginning to allow me to predict a few colours and thus to inform my manipulations of plant, heat, mordant (alum or iron so far) and process time. So one work tom obtain a set of complementary and/ or harmonising elements in the prints – line, form, colour, value, light/dark, etc.

A twice-printed and multi-layered piece. The Cotinus in ghostly attendance on the left and behind the Sweet Gum, with deep, dark greens and teals of Chokecherry in the forground. Layered sketch-like drawn lines are from weakly printing Maple.

Rainbows of Sweet Gum

Storm of light and colour on a folded sheet of 140lb watercolour paper.

Deep Purple Sandcherry makes dark green over yellow Maple prints. Papers all well soaked in alum acetate before steaming.

Sandcherry and Chokecherry, prunus galore – and a Cotinus print as canvas.

From August -September this year: two salvias, Scarlet Sage (pink) and Salvia Officinalis (chartreuse)

O, Sumac! So useful, so beautiful. Brilliant red leaves printed green on a dull brown eucalyptus print from fall 2011. Unbelievable dye development- the brown eucalyptus dye in the paper turned orange. How about that for Slow Fibre!

A Sumac print as it emerged on the other sheet in a paper sandwich, with Sweet Gum, Sandcherry, Chokecherry – and companions!

Sweet Gum, Cotinus, Maple

Japanese Maple and Sweet Gum

Sweet Gum, Cotinus in layered prints, twice steamed.

Sweet Gum and Japanese Maple.

That is it for this collection!

I am off to New York City next week to visit NewlyWed Daughter for a week! I am very excited and wondering how best to spend my time there…suggestions welcome!

Not sure about next blog post – maybe about the Highline? i am desperate to see that garden above the tarmac. And the dye plant garden in Brooklyn. And of course, the NY Center for the Book Arts. And…And…And…

Happy All Saints Day! We North Americans have a new saint: Kateri Tekakwitha, named Patron of Ecology along with Francis of Assissi. Eco printers have their own saint besides Al Gore

Thanks for reading