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The following reflection was written by Jane Beatrice Wegscheider
for the 90th Anniversary of the Bridge of Flowers, October 5, 2019.

Imagination is a bridge!
Today we are celebrating something that connects us –
to each other and to ourselves –
to this physical place that many of us call home.

Home is also something imagined –
something we co-create in community.

Imagination is the soil of community –
because community, like a garden, has so much variety –
so many unknowables, so many differences.

We come together in community through our creativity –
through imagining what is possible.

Creativity cultivates that part of ourselves that is responsive.
Creativity is an essential part of being human.

The Bridge of Flowers cultivates our responsiveness –
to colors, patterns, light, shadow, textures, shapes, sounds, smells –
to the unexpected, exquisite, and delightful –
to birth, death, decay, and re-birth –
to nature which is core to who we are
and which we are so often estranged from.
To the river that runs through and in us –
a constant mystery.

This bridge of flowers draws us into the creative process.
Walking on it, in it and through it is an experience
which involves a coming together of our senses, bodies, hearts and minds –
a journey of moments that pull at us to be fully present.

What an amazing thing to be part of the creative community
that TENDS to the nurturing of imaginations!

What an amazing thing to be here with you in this collective journey of moments to celebrate all the work of that tending.

To tend and care for our need for experiences that feed our souls,
awaken our imaginations, and connect us to the beautiful
is good work –
sometimes hard, sometimes tedious, and most often lighter when done together.

Working together is an act of creativity.
Working together is community.

Playing together is a celebration of that community work.

And celebration is the bridge back to what inspires our imaginations.

And imagination is a bridge that connects us to ourselves and to each other.

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Thanks to a ValleyCreates Planning Grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, The Art Garden has been developing a new initiative, a Collaborative Community Art Response Team (CcART)!

Laura Iveson and Jane Beatrice Wegscheider from The Art Garden have been collaborating with Greenfield artist and organizer Samantha Wood, artist-activist and facilitator Phyllis Labanowski, and Phoebe Walker (Director of Community Services at the Franklin Regional Council of Governments) to design the framework for CcART, which we hope to launch in 2020.

In many ways, CcART is a continuation and expansion of the work The Art Garden has been committed to since its founding ten years ago. We believe that community art-making processes and projects can support individuals and our communities. We also believe that art made in response to community issues can bring about change. Using creative, community art strategies we hope that our Collaborative Community Art Response Team will engage community members, artists and service-providing agencies to help address some of Franklin County’s community needs.

We invite you to share your thoughts with us at one of two upcoming, facilitated listening sessions listed above. Light fare will be provided, so please RSVP!

Thank you!

 

Our 2019 Winter HooPla was a magical event thanks to many artists, community volunteers and ARTeen interns.

Work bees at The Art Garden are often intergenerational.

Together we imagined, built, glued, painted, tied, taped, hauled, constructed and lit up our railyard home with numerous ephemeral art installations.

One of Samantha Crawford’s Frozen Pond installations

Wind gusts and icy conditions made it particularly challenging this year as many installations could not be completed until the last moment. Each year, the HooPla is a testament to creative problem-solving and resilience born through collaboration.

And then there is the absolute heart-strengthening wonder of people coming out in the dark and cold…to a raw February rail yard landscape…to experience and celebrate this particular place, our particular community…through art, LIGHT and the unexpected.

Many community artists helped Laura Iveson paint her installation of lit houses that reflected some of what we love about home.

The houses were made from re-purposed corrugated plastic, tissue paper and cheesecloth.

Samantha Crawford, Mia Radysh, Kate Hennessey and John Hoffman built four stick structures in the rail yard and covered them with re-purposed and upcycled materials: tissue paper glued onto used plastic bags and an “udder house” made from overstock shirts.

The plastic bags (each individually-wrapped shirt came in) were also re-purposed into giant pompoms.

We honored the life and work of Mary Oliver with a few installations inspired by her poetry.

The opening reception for our community exhibit Small Kindnesses took place inside The Art Garden where people also enjoyed hot cocoa generously donated by Deans Beans.

There are 48 works by 33 artists in the exhibit, which runs through April 6.

You can view the exhibit during our March drop-in art-making hours:

Fridays & Saturdays, 1-5pm or
during our Adult Open Studio hours on Wednesdays, 10am-1pm.

 

If freezing temperatures in March are getting you down, use the cold to make these beautiful ice bowl candle holders:

Fill medium sized round balloons with water and put them outside over night in below-freezing temperatures. In the morning, test whether they are done by puncturing one. The water in the center will not have frozen, leaving a delicate ice bowl. If freezing temps persist, you can leave them unpunctured longer, to make the bowl stronger.

 

We’ll have temporary art installations throughout the rail yard (made with found, repurposed and natural materials, paper and light.) We’ll also have hot cocoa
and a fire. Dress warmly so you can enjoy walking around!

The opening reception of our community exhibit: Small Kindnesses will take place inside The Art Garden. (See the next post for details about the exhibit.)

Check out our map for directions. Close parking access is via Elm Street.
Depot Street is unplowed. If you park at Salmon Falls Artisan Showroom,
you can hike in.
For handicap access, please use Elm Street and drive around
to the left of (behind) our building. We hope to see you!

photo by Laura Iveson

What are some of the small kindnesses you experience? That you offer yourself or others? That have been given to you? … a smile or hug on a gray day … a good book … a warm fire … making soup for a neighbor whose partner has been in the hospital … an unexpected call from an old friend … your dog’s kisses … ???

Emma (5 years old) creating a card at our recent “Gifts of Gratitude” workshop.

This exhibit is free and open to all ages and experience. All work should relate to the theme. Because this is a SMALL WORKS exhibit, we will be able to accept more than one piece from each artist.

This includes framing if your piece is framed. It does not have to be!
Writers please print or format your pieces to fit the size limit as well.

 

Drop off work at The Art Garden on:
Saturday, January 26, 1pm – 5pm
Tuesday, January 29, 2pm – 6pm
and Wednesday, January 30, 10am – 1pm & 3pm – 5pm

OR call to arrange a different time or to get mailing instructions: 413-625-2782

 

photo by Cheryl Dukes

More about the HooPla coming soon!

 

 

Here are some of the gifts we get to see through The Art Garden’s work:

 

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These images are making their way (in a physical form) to many of our supporters through our annual appeal mailing*.

* If you are not on our snail mail list and would like to be,
please email Jane at csartgarden@gmail.com.

If you would like to support The Art Garden’s work, please click on our DONATE button (above right) which is a secure PayPal link.

Thank you!   Thank you!   Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Re-purposing, re-cycling and re-using materials that would normally end up being discarded is something The Art Garden is committed to.

Our intergenerational studio is filled with high quality, traditional art supplies AND boxes and boxes of donated ‘discards’: fabric scraps, toilet rolls, bottle caps, buttons, tins and tea boxes, lace and netting, magazine images &&&.

Children regularly transform trash into imaginative creations.

With whimsical results!

If you would like to submit work for our Talkin’ Trash exhibit, please bring it to The Art Garden ready for display on either Thursday, Friday or Saturday, November 1, 2 or 3 between 1pm – 5pm. 

Call 413-625-2782 if you have questions.