Soaring over Houston: Jorge Marin’s Wings of the City exhibit


Archivaldo

One reason I was eager to visit Houston last weekend was to see Mexican sculptor Jorge Marín‘s “Wings of the City” exhibit, which after months on display downtown at Discovery Green Park was ending on March 3rd. Nine of Marín’s bronzes — mainly life-sized male figures, many of them winged, atop rectangular pedestals or orbs — were placed prominently throughout the park, making for a pleasant, artful stroll despite the chilly, gray day.


Equilibrista 90 Monumental

The figures are wonderfully detailed and realistic but also mysterious: bird-like masks obscure some of their faces.


Detail of the man’s hair and the mask’s string on Equilibrista 90 Monumental.


Abrazo Monumental

When faces are revealed, they are filled with emotion, as with these embracing figures.


Abrazo Monumental contained the only female figure in the exhibit.


Angel Perselidas Monumental

This angel figure, masked like a bird, crouches in a relaxed but watchful pose atop an orb, looking down at you as you pass. His right forefinger, rubbed by passersby, gleams gold.


The ruined figure of El Tiempo, or Time, was elevated above the park on a central knoll.


With his head cracked open to the sky, his eyes come alive with a blank gaze — the sky as seen through his mask of a face.


Split Monumental is one of three gymnast figures, as opposed to the winged angels that made up the rest of the exhibit.


Hombre Universal Monumental

The third gymnast is a masked nude in a sphere of moving rings, reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Ironically, I’d heard about the exhibit due to a controversy about this piece reported by a Houston news station, in which a few locals complained about the artistic nudity in a park frequented by children. I can’t really imagine there was much controversy about this — I mean, have people not ever seen images of Michelangelo’s David? — especially in a city as large and multicultural as Houston, but you never know.


Bernardo Oriental Monumental

At any rate, we thought the exhibit was marvelous and were glad to have caught it.


The only non-figure piece in the exhibit was Alas de Mexico: simply a pair of framed wings atop a stair-stepped pedestal, clearly inviting you to become part of the exhibit yourself. The interaction between this piece and the public was delightful to observe, and of course we took turns posing too. My daughter makes a lovely angel or superhero or whatever one wishes to imagine of these symbols of power and grace.

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All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Keeping Houston weird at Joshua’s Native Plants


Shoehorned into a corner lot in the historic Heights neighborhood of Houston, Joshua’s Native Plants and Garden Antiques is a treasure trove of interesting plants and unusual garden art that you won’t find at every other nursery you visit. Despite a downpour that had me huddled under an umbrella last Saturday, I lingered over the eclectic inventory, pawing through bins of funky garden decor and admiring the variety of plants.


I loved the place. I have to point out, however, that the nursery’s name is a bit misleading. For one thing, I didn’t see a specialization in locally native plants. Instead the tables were packed with a world-ranging assortment: perennials from Australia, agaves from Mexico and the desert Southwest, succulents from Africa, tropicals from South America, Southern-adopted Asian natives, and grasses and trees from Central and West Texas, as well as traditional annuals.


If there was a table of plants native to southeast Texas, I didn’t see it.


Also, “Garden Antiques” might lead you to expect classical statuary, and there is some. But there’s also a crazy-wonderful collection of contemporary sculpture, funky yard art, Asian statuary, and, inside a cavernous warehouse, a mish-mash of architectural remnants, recycle-worthy junk, and old signage that Joshua, the owner, has found on buying trips around the world.


The owner’s eclectic tastes have made Joshua’s a funky Heights favorite and a place where you can find the perfect plant or ornament you never knew you needed.


One Southern native that caught my eye was a collection of baby longleaf pines. At this size they resemble a Dasylirion or Xanthorrhoea, don’t you think?


Here’s a bigger one. I love that foliage!


There were nicely potted agaves for those who don’t want to pot their own.


And cubbies of colorful pots and other small garden decor…


…like these fun monkey hooks…


…and carved Buddha heads, each one slightly different.


Amid the plant tables, Asian statuary…


…classical statuary…


…and modern sculpture — garden art for every taste and style.


I asked Joshua about these colorful, ribbon-like pieces, and he told me they are made by a sculptor from Galveston who got “Iked” out by Hurricane Ike and now lives in Houston.


‘Sticks on Fire’ euphorbia in a Southwest-style glazed pot


Inside the warehouse stuffed with all manner of garden decor, let the hunt begin.


Architectural remnants from Indonesia


London Underground signs keep company with a metal steer head.


These lighted circus signs might be fun in a cabana or on a covered porch.


Or how about these oversized panels, from India perhaps?


This would add an element of bohemian fantasy to the garden, wouldn’t it?


And here’s the man who treasure-hunts for Houston and has the stories to prove it, the nursery’s namesake owner, Joshua. What a fun place to poke around. I’ll definitely be back the next time I’m in Houston.

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All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Flower power out front; in back a serene, green garden


Last year I featured this Houston Heights garden in a Drive-By Gardens post. But last Saturday, while in Houston to visit family, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, David Morello, who kindly gave me a full tour.


David owns the design and build company David Morello Garden Enterprises, and he’s an avid gardener who makes time for his own glorious garden as well. In the sunny front yard of his khaki bungalow, he’s created an elegantly structured space with clipped boxwood and geometric lines, colored in with a riotous but disciplined color scheme of flowering annuals. Every spring he experiments with new colors. This year he’s playing with yellow and gold.


Pops of purple and white give depth to the yellows.


Near the porch, a stand of ‘World’s Favorite’ tulips — orange-red edged in yellow (see top photo) — brightens the entry. The front garden will be at peak spring bloom in about three weeks, David said. The earliest Texas bluebonnets were starting to flower along the street, probably thanks to the reflected heat.


In back, the garden tells a different story. Gone are the colorful annuals. Instead a serene, ferny bower encloses a circular flagstone patio. A low boxwood parterre outlines the perimeter, and a hedge of evergreen Spartan juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’) makes a pleasing backdrop to a tall, rusty-red pot fountain. The color of the pot picks up the coppery-orange of the garage door, seat cushions, and even the terracotta pots.


The small patio is a work of art, with meticulously pieced flagstone “mortared” with Mexican beach pebbles.


Another view, from the garage door, which is accessed via a gray gravel path running alongside the garage. Looking directly across the patio, a pop of yellow catches your eye.


It’s leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum, formerly Ligularia) in bloom, with variegated shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) behind. Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’) adds cloud-like softness in the pots.


i was charmed by this scalloped-leaf rambler with dainty, white flowers atop tall stems — a white spiderwort, David told me — which he allows to spread at will along the boxwood parterre.


The view back toward the house. David said that Houston has not experienced a freeze this winter, so there’s been no die-back, although it’s been unseasonably cool.


This focal-point pot set on a plinth of stacked ledgestone grabs your eye as you enter the back garden from the driveway. Pink cyclamen mingles with a chartreuse-leaved plant (I didn’t get the ID) under a graceful tuteur that adds height. A bracelet of gray river rock rings the base of the pot, and vining plants are encouraged to twine an embrace as well. Unfussy, expertly crafted details like these give David’s garden a timeless appeal.

My thanks to David for sharing his lovely garden with me! If you’d like to see more, check out my pictures of his front garden from last spring.

Stay tuned for a visit to the plant-packed nursery and garden-art fantasia of Joshua’s Native Plants & Garden Antiques.

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Vote early and often! I’d love to have your vote in the Better Homes and Gardens 2015 Blogger Awards. Skip through to the Gardening category, select Digging, and then skip to the last page for your vote to be counted. You can vote as much as you like. Thanks for your support!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.