I had never heard of Lotusland until last spring when I received an email from the arts committee about participating in an exhibition entitled Swarm: A Collaboration with Bees. The request was the possibility of showing a beeswax architecture in this exhibition. Lots of emails and several months later I was on an airplane from Toronto to Santa Barbara to do a site visit and to meet Nancy Gifford, an artist, curator and chair of the arts committee and Gwen Stauffer, Executive Director of Ganna Walska Lotusland .
It is a magical place. This estate had been owned by Ganna Walska who named the place Lotusland- 37 acres of gardens, cacti gardens, reflecting pools, lotus ponds and more. My first walk through the gardens was with Gwen who wove the story of Ganna Walska the Polish Opera singer who somehow through various marriages arrived at Lotusland. She was eccentric and tenacious and had a horticultural flare. Each garden was a collection and excess, repetition and accumulation was her driving aesthetic. Why have 1 ponytail palm when you could have 100?
From this first encounter I have been smitten and the committee asked me to be the Artist in Residence in February 2013 in order to create a new work for the exhibition. I said yes very quickly and so now I am here until the end of the month.
The euphorbia was amazing and I couldn’t take enough pictures… Each photo missed how magnificent this old plant was/is. The whole front of the house is flanked with these 30 foot plants.
around the corner and into the largest part of the garden is the courtyard .
This is where I am staying. Just off the main House. Pavilion Gallery is situated in the bungelow quarters that Ganna Walska lived. They have set up her room for me while I am in residence. This way I can live and work in the same place. It suits me well.
This path is behind my quarters. Check out the flowers on these cacti!
Next post I will show you my outdoor studio and the progress I have made so far.