If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have noticed my obsession with weeds (here, here, and here are some examples). So when I heard that the Lux Art Institute was hosting an artist whose work features weeds, I couldn’t wait to visit. And I wasn’t disappointed. Beverly Penn makes exquisite sculptures by casting what others might classify as ordinary or weed-like flora in bronze and then creating beautiful art that seems to breathe, move, and reflect light. I wish I could have taken photos of the art–but the museum requested no photos in the studio.
And as an added extra, when I had a minute to chat with the artist, she talked about how her current work (that she is working on as she is in residency at the Lux) uses the native plants that grow prolifically on the Lux grounds. As we left the studio, we headed out into the grounds to see the sculptures installed in the native plant trail…also surrounded by even more native chaparral.
I took this photo of the native buckwheat. And if you look closely you will see a little extra in the background–one of the fanciful birdhouses that is a part of the sculpture collection at the Lux.
As I walked the natives, I couldn’t resist stopping to put my macro lens on to get closer to these often unappreciated beauties. Seeing Beverly Penn’s sculptures inspired my curiosity and had me wanting to look even more closely at these plants that seem to grow like weeds…and many consider weeds. Lately, they have been celebrated for their resilience in drought conditions, requiring considerably less water than the decorative plants that many like to cultivate around homes and businesses.
This Hummingbird’s Trumpet uses its brilliant scarlet to attract pollinators…and my eye.
I was surprised to learn that this vibrant yellow bloom is called the California Brittlebush. I love the bumpiness of the centers when when you get close.
I’m really not sure of the name of this purple flowering plant. The bloom is interesting because it includes a spiky ball and then a delicate flower.
My interest in weeds has also allowed me to find the beauty in the stages of blooming that some might dismiss as ugly or uninteresting. This plant, the Seaside Daisy, had a few blossoms in full bloom with white petals and a bright yellow center. But I found myself interested in the blossoms that were past their prime, “gone to seed”–reminding me of dandelions and their tenacious seed dispersement and the beauty of the husks as the seeds blow away.
I was also drawn to the black sage…a common plant in these parts. The blossoms are now skeletons, and yet somehow their intricate beauty draws me in and the fragrance evokes San Diego summer.
I loved the extras that presented themselves as I headed off to the Lux today. I was reminded to appreciate the natives…and look closely to find their beauty and intricacy. And one more extra: I ran into one of my students (and her little sister who will be my student when school begins in the fall) as they came out of the art studio and I was about to enter. Their mom mentioned that they were there because we had studied weeds…they just couldn’t wait to see what the artist was doing with weeds as her subject! What a great beginning to summer!