The Premiere of Art in the Arboretum: Environmental Installations

April 30, 2017

By Linda Lane 

     The Art in the Arboretum program promotes the arts and enriches connections between the Arboretum, UCSC, and the Santa Cruz community. The Opening Reception for Art in the Arboretum: Environmental Installations is Saturday, May 20, 3-6 pm. For this third exhibition, eleven unique sculptures have been installed to highlight and complement the South African and New Zealand gardens.

Jenni Ward   Jayson Fann     
    Jenni Ward installing Umbel Series                        Jayson Fann with Spirit Nest

Twelve artists are participating:

  • Jamie Abbott, Barbara Downs, and Roy Holmberg’s collaboration on 3+7 represents eucalyptus leaves and pods made from steel, burlap, concrete, and vermiculite.
  • Lucia Bruer’s And Sow it Begins, created out of forged steel and wood, references the hard truth of steel and the sprouts of hope in the harvest cycle.
  • Wendy Domster’s Sequoia Semprotea impersonates the Protea plant in mythological form, using redwood limbs and recycled materials.
  • Ethan Estess uses steel and recycled gas tanks in Gas Field to reflect the cycles of plant growth and decay.
  • Jayson Fann’s giant woven architectural sculpture, Spirit Nest, is made from eucalyptus branches.
  • In Ubiquitous Seed, Diana Hobson reflects concern for losing the essential diversity and quality of our life-giving seeds.
  • John Hylton’s Sunwatchers is comprised of three symbolic carved wood figures framed by large wood beams.
  • For The Raven and the Wolf, Sharon Loper was inspired by the portrayal of two creatures in mythology—the raven as protector and the wolf as guardian.
  • Jenni Ward’s Umbel Series was inspired by the tale of California explorers using mustard flower seeds to mark trails from mission to mission. Ward’s Tree Pools, cone-shaped sculptures nestled into the earth around the base of trees, echo the ripples of a stone thrown into water.
  • Larry Worley created a six-foot organic shell titled Where the Sea and Land Meet from hand dyed rattan reed and driftwood. 

     These curated art exhibitions greatly enhance the gardens. Jennifer Macotto, Director of Development, reports the program’s positive impact on visitors to the gardens, “Art in the Arboretum has been enthusiastically embraced by the community and has elevated the experience for our visitors. This year’s Giving Day focus was on Art in the Arboretum so that future exhibitions will be able to go bigger and be bolder.”

     Executive Director Martin Quigley emphasizes the symbiotic connection of art and horticulture: “Artistic installations can be the refraction of human experience through a lens focused on our planted environment. The Arboretum's unique plant collections provide both the materials and the inspiration for artists’ creativity and wonder."
susana arias
     Local artist and sculptor Susana Arias is the curator for Art in the Arboretum. She explains the concept of “installation art” as “an artistic form of three-dimensional work that changes the viewer’s perception of a space and that stems from a direct communion between the artist and the environment affected.”

      Several of the participating artists will soon be featured in “Get to Know the Artists” profiles posted on the Arboretum news webpage: