I came across a great book that I had picked up at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago a few years ago and then inadvertently misplaced.
Back in November 2001, the well-know artist Dale Chihuly created thirty of his characteristic art-glass pieces and installed them throughout the conservatory set among the permanent collections of exotic plants.
They were interestingly placed, entwined with the branches and trunks, suspended in space or floating in the many indoors ponds providing an interesting contrast with the profuse natural vegetation.
“With names like Peacock Blue Tower, Macchia Forest, Ikebana, most of the pieces used elements first used in other contexts, but now ‘recontextualized’ in a site-specific assemblage” – as the book notes. There were glass reeds, fronds, Art Nouveau Tiffany-type snakes and blossoms which were contrasted with natural environments within the greenhouses.
Here are a few pictures of the works.
However, the part of the book that I actually liked the best was in the beginning. Seemingly unrelated to the subject matter at hand, there were 23 reproductions of old colorized black and white postcards and photographs depicting many of the original great conservatories built in America.
What looks to be a postcard image from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco shows the newly constructed Conservatory in Golden Gate Park, now known as the “Conservatory of Flowers”.
There were some images of buildings I had never seen before including an elaborate conservatory labeled “Conservatory Garfield Park, Chicago, IL”. It features two large glass “onion domes” on top of a very complex roof.
This one caught my eye because I have just been working on a history of the existing conservatory at Garfield Park in Chicago- and it doesn’t look anything like the one pictured. In fact I used one of the colorized images from the book showing the current conservatory at Garfield Park in the new “Our Heritage” section of our website. If you go to this page you can see the “other” Garfield Park conservatory. I wonder what happened to the older one?
I’m going to post these wonderful images on our site shortly, but in the meantime here are few that I really liked.
What a wonderful heritage we have- and some high standards to live up to! More to come on these.