Crystal Bridges is open Wed. through Mon. with free, timed tickets required.

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Crystal Bridges is open Wed. through Mon. with free, timed tickets required.

Get Tickets >Learn More >
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art focuses on intersection of art and nature with new exhibitions and sculptures
April 19, 2018
Volunteer Spotlight: Maggie Malloy
May 1, 2018
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New Podcast Episode! Museum in Bloom

Museum Way Podcast

The third episode of our podcast series, Museum Way, is available now!

Read this episode’s transcript

 

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Field Horticulturalist Cody George

Appreciation for nature is central to the mission of Crystal Bridges. We’re situated on 120 acres of native Ozark forest which include natural springs, streams, a host of native plants and animals, and more! Our dedicated Trails and Grounds team are committed to the use of native plants in the landscape, and work year-round to keep the grounds beautiful and healthy for all to enjoy. On this episode, Cody tells us what it means to be a Field Horticulturalist, how the team prepares for a busy spring season, when to see the dogwoods in bloom, and animals you might come across on the trails. If you haven’t been out on the grounds of Crystal Bridges, now is the time!

More than 3.5 miles of trails wind through the museum grounds, providing guests with access to the beautiful Ozark landscape. Designed to spark the imagination, the trails help guests form connections to the land and its history, as well as enjoy outdoor artworks.

Learn more >

 

 

Curatorial Assistant Dylan Turk

 

The Garden is a free, focused exhibition that blurs boundaries between the galleries and the museum grounds, immersing you in a world of flowers. Hear from Dylan Turk on what a focused exhibition is, how the idea for The Garden came about, and what to expect when you visit!

Through the centuries, the garden has inspired artists to try different techniques, from abstraction to paintings, wallpaper to sculpture, and more. In The Garden, you’ll discover how artists in the Crystal Bridges collection such as Martin Johnson Heade and Andy Warhol, alongside contemporary artists such as Jessica Pezalla and Kendell Carter, view the natural world.  Full of color, charm, and character, The Garden will bring your visit into full bloom.

Paper Flowers: Jessica Pezalla, “Unfading Flowers” (2018) Statue: Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, Depicted: Desha Delteil, 1890s – 1980 Roses of Yesterday, modeled 1923; cast 1924-1940

Miriam Schapiro, “A Mayan Garden” (1984)

Kendall Carter, “The Emmys in Gucci for Taraji” (2018)

 

Episode Transcript

Stace Treat:
Welcome to Museum Way, the podcast of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. We’re sharing all the ins and outs of the museum, from the galleries to the trails, the architecture, and more. You’ll learn the museum way of Crystal Bridges. On today’s podcast, we’re talking about two of our favorite things, art and nature. We’ll meet field horticulturalist Cody George to learn how our trails and grounds team prepares for spring. And we’ll also talk with curatorial assistant Dylan Turk to hear about his upcoming focused exhibition, The Garden, which is all about flowers. So let’s jump into this episode of Museum Way.

Stace Treat:
We’re here with field horticulturalist Cody George. Welcome, Cody.

Cody George:
Thanks so much. This is great.

Stace Treat:
Yeah, great to have you.

Cody George:
Thanks.

Stace Treat:
So that title, field horticulturalist. Tell us what that means.

Cody George:
It’s a good question. Yeah, horticulture is a pretty broad term. It essentially means growing and cultivating plants. So as the field horticulturalist for the museum, my job is primarily to do that. I cultivate plants for the enjoyment of others. In our case, it’s the enjoyment of guests.

Stace Treat:
And staff members, I have to say.

Cody George:
Oh, absolutely. We got to provide something for your walks, your daily walks.

Stace Treat:
Exactly.

Cody George:
But not only that. That’s it in a nutshell. There’s plant identification, disease, pest identification. And then once those are identified, what means do we go … We have a naturalistic garden approach, and so we don’t want to put on a whole lot of chemicals that are going to kill off our insects. We want to make sure we’re ecologically responsible. A lot of caterpillars we’ll just leave on the plants themselves. They may defoliate the plant, but it’s okay. We’re providing food. And that’s kind of an extreme approach for a public garden or a pleasure garden, because you automatically think you go to a garden, everything’s got to be pristine. We don’t mind some nibbling on some things, for sure. We don’t mind birds eating the berries and that sort of thing. It’s a great privilege to lead a crew of equally passionate gardeners as well.

Stace Treat:
How many is on your crew?

Cody George:
Our horticulture crew, we’ve got myself and three others, and then we have a mowing crew of five, and then we have an irrigation specialist. So we’ve got 10 altogether.

Stace Treat:
Wow. How many acres do you take care of with that?

Cody George:
About 130.

Stace Treat:
No way.

Cody George:
Yeah. But it’s not all completely maintained. We’ve got about 15 acres of maintained bed space and we’ve got about 12 acres of turf grass. And then we have our forest. We prescribe burn every year. We are maintaining our forest. We want to make sure we’re having our healthy forest as well.

Stace Treat:
Yeah. I think one of the interesting things about Crystal Bridges and our trails and grounds is its naturalist approach. It’s sort of like we want you to feel like you’re in an Ozark forest, but then it’s … There are areas that are beautifully managed and kept, but … So how do you decide what to leave? Rough, what do you choose to build up? Tell me about that process.

Cody George:
Yeah. That leads into my unofficial self proclaimed title. I gave this to my … I’m the CEO of botanical acquisitions. I essentially get to … It really is a very enjoyable part of my … and that is not, just to be clear, a museum.

Stace Treat:
Well, I’m going to start calling it-

Cody George:
Thank you so much. You and my wife will probably be the only two that does it. So going back to your question, we’re predominantly native and indigenous species. We always want to keep, if we had a balance, we always want to keep a heavier balance towards the native species. It’s got to work in our zones. It’s got to be attractive. But it also has to have some sort of benefit for wildlife. We don’t want it to be invasive. There’s an extreme amount of species. We’re in a very diverse plant area, our zone, 6B. We get to play around with a lot. It’s exciting. But we also play with some well-behaved non-native plants as well.

Stace Treat:
I can imagine that this show is all about, part of our mission at Crystal Bridges is to unite the beauty of art with the power of nature. It’s part of our mission statement.

Cody George:
Absolutely.

Stace Treat:
And springtime, man.

Cody George:
That’s a hot time.

Stace Treat:
What’s it like getting ready for spring on these grounds? There’s a lot going on out there.

Cody George:
There’s a lot going on and it really starts in about autumn, our preparation for spring. We are allocating new areas to be developed, so north forest for example. We began looking at areas that we want to expand and further on. Then we look at areas that, okay, our grounds have been installed for six years. Areas that were in full sun are now in sheltered shade. So the plant species have thinned out. Let’s go back with something that’s going to take more of a permanent environmental situations. And so we start then and start a design process. It’s a great part of my job that I thoroughly enjoy getting into more is the garden design aspect, spec’ing the plants, installing the plants. We don’t subcontract a lot. We do our own irrigation, we do our own dirt work. We do mulch, trying to scale back on our mulching quite a bit. It’s another new garden approach that we’re looking at as well.

Cody George:
That transitions into the winter where we’re just, we’re working on the trails when there’s not an exceptional amount of people out. We can run equipment. We can do larger projects in the winter time. And then once spring hits, so we’re just about there, we’re falling on the tail end of that, that’s when it’s showtime. People are coming out. They’re wanting to walk around and enjoy our trails, so basic stuff. Bed maintenance. We want to make sure we have clean edges so that grass isn’t creeping in. We want to make sure that there’s not a lot of limbs and other debris laying around, so we kind of tidy up a little bit. And then we’ll start getting, we start bed prep for our plantings that we’ll get started around late April, early May. We’re installing a couple thousand perennials this year, maybe around 100 trees and shrubs. Lighter on the trees and shrubs this year and increased our perennial outtake, or intake, rather. So that will transition into summer and then we’re in full maintenance mode, mowing, weed eating, and then bed maintenance. That’s the name of the game until autumn.

Stace Treat:
Let me ask you this. How is it that we tend to have a lot of dogwoods blooming for longer than they normally do?

Cody George:
Right. Our dogwoods are, and that is a hard … I love our dogwoods, but I get a lot of emails about when will they be in bloom. So working, we work outside in nature and oftentimes, we don’t work against Mother Nature. But we have to work with it in telling people these things. We’ve got 10 cultivars and hybrids of dogwoods. The majority of them were bred actually at Rutgers University. They have a great dogwood breeding program, Dr. Elwin Orton. And so with these different cultivars, we’re playing with different sizes of blooms. We’re working with different colors, so a fantastic one is called stellar pink and it’s a really flushed pink. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Cody George:
And these are crossed with a native and some non-native as well. So by doing this, we’re allowing for about a 60 day bloom time of dogwood. Most dogwoods are going to bloom for about two weeks. But after let’s say our native one, the flowering dogwood, after it blooms, something else, our Aurora dogwood is going to start blooming up, ramping up about that same time. So we’re going to have all these different blooms going on, one after the other. So we can see dogwoods blooming from about early April all the way to the end of June. I’m sorry, end of May, early June. It’s really a great time.

Stace Treat:
That’s a little bit of behind the scenes nature magic.

Cody George:
Yes, absolutely. That I’m completely, solely responsible for.

Stace Treat:
Heavily based in science, of course.

Cody George:
That’s right.

Stace Treat:
Another thing that a lot of people comment on our grounds are the various critters that run around. Can you tell us a little bit about what kinds of animals you see on a pretty daily or weekly basis?

Cody George:
Yeah, absolutely. Again, it kind of hearkens back a little bit to our design style and trying to find this balance between being ecologically responsible and aesthetically pleasing. So by doing that, we have a great, great healthy ecosystem. We’ve definitely deer.

Stace Treat:
Yes, we love our deer.

Cody George:
The white tailed deer are definitely prevalent. Beaver, otter, mink. So if any fur trappers are listening, please-

Stace Treat:
Stay away.

Cody George:
Stay away, yeah. Or you can come, just don’t trap anything.

Stace Treat:
Play nice.

Cody George:
Absolutely. But songbirds, I mean, just … I don’t know how many species of songbirds. Butterflies, moths, owls, chipmunks.

Stace Treat:
We have a heron that flies around.

Cody George:
We have herons, yeah.

Stace Treat:
Hangs out.

Cody George:
Absolutely yeah. And of course, another great factor to any healthy ecosystems are snakes.

Stace Treat:
Yes.

Cody George:
So we welcome these. We try to keep them away from trails and from the museum, although some do tend to creep in from time to time. We try our best to … When we get a call, we go and we capture it. We put it in our snake bag and we release it.

Stace Treat:
Our snakes and our turtles, like everyone else’s, really loves the art. They’re drawn to it.

Cody George:
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, why wouldn’t you?

Stace Treat:
Yeah. In fact, the black sneaks, we saw a lot of them really hanging out with the Chihuly reeds last summer.

Cody George:
That’s right.

Stace Treat:
They seem to be drawn to that form. I wonder why.

Cody George:
Yeah, absolutely. They probably like the color contrast. Black and blue is just beautiful together.

Stace Treat:
Indeed. And I will say that we have turtles in our ponds.

Cody George:
Oh, yeah. Turtles, fish, crawdads. There’s a ton of, kids love to go to Crystal Pond and check out our spring bank. And then there’s this bunch of crawdads there. And that welcomes in, we’ve seen … I don’t know if you know what a kingfisher is, but it’s an absolutely wonderful bird that will dive down and grab minnows, that sort of thing. And of course the herons will eat the crawdads, too. It’s really, really incredible. I consider myself a very lucky individual. We’ve got a great department. Our manager and director, Clay Bakker and Scott Eccleston are just really supportive of the work that we do and trust that work. That’s important for anybody. And then let alone 130 acres. You’ve got a crew of 10 people who have ideas and for those ideas to be heard, it’s fantastic.

Stace Treat:
Yeah, you know, another thing, too, we have a great app that we’ve developed that people can develop. It’s called CB Outdoors. And it’s got a lot of rich information on the plants, the trees. There’s also some programming that we do specifically around trails and grounds. Tours. One of my favorites is the owl thing, where you can go and like … the owl, do you know what was-

Cody George:
The Owl Prowl?

Stace Treat:
The Owl Prowl. I’m definitely doing that this year.

Cody George:
Yeah, absolutely. It’s a great app and one of our gardeners on staff, Lauren, she’s working on increasing the number of plants that are on the app, and so if you’re not able to find a sign and you’re able to download CB Outdoors, then you can get on the trail that you’re at and hopefully be able to find that in there. You kind of touched based on our nature series, Discover the Grounds, that we co-present with Moira, I think was on the show as well. And she’s great to work with, but we have just a long list of national speakers and nature speakers, and local folks. It’s an absolute blast. I’m just happy. And get to do podcasts. What a great position field horticulturist continues to be.

Stace Treat:
The CEO, man, of botanical acquisitions.

Cody George:
That’s right.

Stace Treat:
We’re also on this podcast going to be talking to Dylan Turk, who is a curatorial assistant, and I understand that you two worked together to develop the exhibition. He’s going to talk about The Garden.

Cody George:
Really fun to work with Dylan and his team and manager Clay, he’s in this as well. Dylan will probably talk about it a little bit more, but they sort of presented the different works that will be in this exhibit, what sort of correlation can we find between inside and the outside, how can we bring the outside people inside and bring the inside people outside. And it’s a great, really true intersection between art and nature. So he brings this list and we kind of sit on it for, I don’t know, a week or something like that. And there’s concrete stuff. There’s, “Oh, here’s a wild violet. We have wild violets. Here’s where you can find them.” But there’s also different things like Martin Johnson Heade’s hummingbirds are in there. Well, we don’t necessarily have that tropical species of plant or hummingbird, but we do have a ruby throated hummingbird that has a really cool migration. Here are the plants that we’ve planted to attract this and these also, these are plants that you can plant at your home if you want to attract some hummingbirds.

Stace Treat:
Oh, wow.

Cody George:
Yeah. And so it takes a little bit of a deeper look and there’s great magnolias. We’ve got a really great showing of magnolias from about April into June as well. We’ve got about six species of magnolia, all different shapes and sizes. So that brings into moon gardens and stuff that is white and pastel colors that shows up at night. Gardens during the day are great, but they also have a fantastic personality at night. Some of these plants are really, really sort of showy, more showy at night. Some of them actually open up at night.

Stace Treat:
Kind of like people, right?

Cody George:
Absolutely.

Stace Treat:
Some people are better in the morning, some are better at night.

Cody George:
Yes. Don’t invite me to a nightly event. I enjoy the mornings.

Stace Treat:
Is this something that people then will be able to sort of take with them outside and go out on the grounds?

Cody George:
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. That’s the next step in this is developing some content or ways to take what you’re seeing outside, or inside, and bring that outside. He had just a fantastic, Dylan’s got a great idea of wanting to sort of connect these two world of guests, the inside folks and the outside folks. This was a great way of doing it. So very, very excited to help out with it in a way.

Stace Treat:
I do know, Cody, that after this crazy winter that we’re … It was so cold. We had a lot of moisture. People have been pent up. I’m sure everybody’s ready to get out and enjoy the spring and to enjoy our grounds. So the CEO of botanical acquisitions, AKA our field horticulturalist Cody George. Thanks for coming by.

Cody George:
It’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Stace Treat:
The Beyond: Georgia O’Keefe and Contemporary Art opens May 26th. More than 30 of Georgia O’Keefe’s most important works will be the centerpiece for this unique expedition, alongside these iconic artworks, the exhibition will feature 53 works by a select group of 20 emerging contemporary artists who evoke, investigate, and expand upon O’Keefe’s artistic legacy. This exhibition introduces viewers to a new generation of American artists and allows for a fresh look at Georgia O’Keefe through the lens of contemporary art. Learn more at CrystalBridges.org.

Stace Treat:
We’re here with curatorial assistant Dylan Turk to talk about a new focused exhibition, The Garden. Welcome, Dylan.

Dylan Turk:
I’m so excited to be here. I’ve been waiting to be a part of this thing. I’m so excited.

Stace Treat:
Well, we’re really excited to have you, and especially to talk about this new exhibition. Before we do that, can you tell me what exactly a focused exhibition is?

Dylan Turk:
Yeah, I can. So a focused exhibition is a really, it’s smaller in scale than our large temporary exhibitions, like you see. But what it really allows us for our staff curatorial interpretations exhibition to experiment and work on kind of an idea or a concept in a smaller scale that allows us to go and experiment and innovate in something without having to bite off the entire huge temporary gallery space. So you’ve seen that we have actually been doing a lot of them and the coolest part is our curatorial staff gets to work on passion projects or little nodes of something they think are interesting and then put it out in the world and get feedback, and then refine it to potentially go into something else.

Stace Treat:
Right. In fact, we currently, at least through May have one of your focused exhibition shows called All or Nothing.

Dylan Turk:
Yes. Which is like, it happened so fast, but it’s something I’m super proud of and we’ve been getting amazing feedback of people just kind of wandering in and I think that’s also the beauty of the focus show is in between it’s set inside of the permanent collection. So people are going through the permanent collection, and then all of a sudden there’s like this little treat of, “Oh, something different.”

Stace Treat:
Right. And a lot of the objects are from our permanent collection, aren’t they?

Dylan Turk:
Yeah. And that’s important with the focus show, is we want to be able to use elements, objects, stories that we tell from our collection, and be able to put them in a different context, maybe with an outside loan or focus in on a specific element of their story in a focus show in a way that we wouldn’t normally do in a just normal gallery hang.

Stace Treat:
Right. So All or Nothing is all about black and white basically.

Dylan Turk:
It is. And this idea of black is everything in light, or is nothing in light, but essentially everything in color and white is the opposite. And what happens when you remove color from something and can that actually help our guests see process and material and technique behind the making of something. And it’s pretty, let’s be honest.

Stace Treat:
It really is. I mean, it really is an amazing … You get a lot of different mixed media in there and some really jarring and lovely and fascinating juxtapositions. Yeah, so tell us about the concept for this new focused exhibition, The Garden.

Dylan Turk:
To be honest, it really happened when I was coming up with ideas and thinking about what we needed to fill and as we were looking at our exhibition schedule, and as we were thinking for spring and then that scene from Devil Wears Prada popped into my head where Meryl Streep’s character is kind of sitting at the table and the editors are going around and pitching their concepts and someone pitches florals in spring and she says, “Florals for spring. Groundbreaking.” And I kind of thought, maybe it’s not groundbreaking, but it’s everywhere. We can’t not see it. It’s in fashion and culture and it goes back thousands of years in human history, this fascination and enchantment with flowers.

Stace Treat:
I understand there are some really new ideas in this exhibition that we haven’t tried before and a lot of firsts, yeah?

Dylan Turk:
Yeah. There really is and it’s so exciting. For example, like if you were to walk through all the spaces, the first space in the garden is a totally immersive paper flower installation by this artist Jessica Pezalla. And that has this amazing regional connection because Shindig Paperie has actually come in as a sponsor of that project to give all of the materials for her to take this space over and create this immersive garden environment all made out of paper.

Stace Treat:
Oh, great. Shindig coming in.

Dylan Turk:
Yes. I like that when we have someone from Portland, an artist, and is now getting to engage with and meet what’s happening here outside of the museum as well. And then if you move into the next space, first off the walls are going to be all wallpapered and all of the wallpaper is sponsored by Rebel Walls. They’re this super interesting, they call them wall murals. Interesting company based out of Sweden and they’re actually scaling these murals to totally fit our space. And so that will help actually make the installation feel layered and varied because they’ll be art hanging over graphic wallpaper. I think that this will help in an area where we can help break down the idea of what is art and it can be in many types of creativity and medium and type, and from all different types of people.

Stace Treat:
Yeah, because you actually come from a design background and you like all things design.

Dylan Turk:
I do.

Stace Treat:
Architecture. Name it in Cooper Hewitt, right?

Dylan Turk:
Yeah. You can pretty much. And I just am fascinated with this idea of how a space or something immersive can help persuade someone to have an experience without having to say, “This is the experience you’re going to have.” It does it for you. And it slows people down. And I’m also interested in trying to show a lot of our guests what is the art in their regular life. That cup you’re drinking coffee out of was designed by someone. There’s a whole history of that. And I’m fascinated by the regular things we use and where it came from. That’s a nerdy area where I can just dive in.

Stace Treat:
Right.

Dylan Turk:
That’s what I’m interested in. And it’s really cool because in the last room, actually, I was having lunch randomly with this artist who was in town, Kendall Carter. And he, I was talking about this idea and he goes, “Whoa, this is weird because I’m working on a whole new body of work and it totally is about this, about floral ornamentation and about how this has infiltrated design in society.” And I was like, “Oh, wow. Super cool.” Long story short, now he’s loaning two of his new paintings that have never been seen before into this show. And so I think that one of the coolest things about this area is people coming into it all the time and networking and being able to capitalize on people’s talents and interests to make a really moving and powerful show.

Stace Treat:
Yeah, and that’s also a little insight in how curation works some times, you know? Just having a conversation with an artist maybe about something else and then before you know it, you’ve got something beautiful and brand new.

Dylan Turk:
Exactly.

Stace Treat:
So how are you working with Trails and Grounds? We talked to Cody a minute ago, so tell me a little bit more about that collaboration.

Dylan Turk:
We had this idea, which is we want the feeling of the exhibition to feel layered and fecund, and like you are when you’re outside in the garden where you see long distances, but you also see, you see the micro and the macro coming together. And so we had a meeting with Cody and what we did is we kind of gave them the checklist and then talked through the idea. And he was like, “Okay, give me a minute,” and then we met a little while later and he had all of these connection points of artwork that you will see in the show that’s maybe on our grounds. So maybe there’s a flower that’s blooming currently at Crystal Bridges that we have a Heade study of. Or one of the coolest things I remember that Cody told me was about flowers that pollinate at night, and that there’s a Heade study of one of those and we also have flowers that are pollinating at night on our grounds. And so we kind of had this idea of what if we literally blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors.

Dylan Turk:
And we have essentially a guide that tells guests once they leave the exhibition The Garden, “This is what’s on bloom. This is what’s currently on view in our grounds essentially.” So it’ll guide guests through the 120 acres to show them what they should see and hopefully kind of drive home those connection points between visual art and our natural world.

Stace Treat:
Wow. So how long will this exhibition be on view?

Dylan Turk:
This exhibition will open on April 21st and it will run through October 15th.

Stace Treat:
Wow, so it’s actually covering like three seasons.

Dylan Turk:
Yes. And that’s one of the funny things is I kind of was asking, I was hoping that not everything would be in bloom in the first couple of months of the show because people are going to be here in October. And one of the coolest things that Cody told us is that actually we have different types of vegetation that are kind of in their peak moments through that whole season. I may not be using all the right words because this is a new area for me. Cody’s giving me a thumbs up. It’s going okay. And I don’t know, I don’t know if … One of our fundamental missions is the intersection of art and nature. And I don’t know if our two departments have partnered in this way before, and so I’m really excited to lay the ground and say, “Okay, this is an experiment and let’s see how it works,” to then hopefully spark further integration in other experiences that are totally merging these two foundations of who we are.

Stace Treat:
Well, listen. Dylan, thanks a lot for being with us and sharing all about The Garden.

Dylan Turk:
Yes, I’m so excited. Please come and see it. And more important, enjoy spring and flowers and the world around us.

Stace Treat:
Indeed. Celebrate the beauty of Crystal Bridges trails and grounds with our fourth annual garden party. Join us on Saturday June 16th to enjoy fantastic music as part of Walton Art Center’s Artosphere Festival. Explore a native plant and seed sale. Participate in art making and so much more. More information can be found at crystalbridges.org. Thanks for tuning into Museum Way. We hope you enjoyed the episode and that you’ll tune in each month to hear more. Don’t forget to head over to our social media channels and leave a question or comment about what you’d like to hear on future episodes. I’m Stace Treat and I’ll catch you next month right here on Museum Way.

 

 

Stace Treat is Crystal Bridges’ Head of Interpretation and the host of Museum Way.

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