The Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a surprising and delightful oasis amid a backdrop of fancy high rises, slick stores and glass and metal towers. Within its urban setting, the garden is an oasis of beauty and tranquility, a community resource that refreshes, inspires and engages its visitors. In addition to its natural beauty, the garden regularly raises exhibitions featuring local and international artists.
Currently, two artist exhibitions are featured: Tree Huggers and Nests: The Art of Evelyn Politzer; as well as the Native Orchids of South Florida: The Photographs of Drew Mullin. Gaspar Saldanha, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden Artistic Advisor, said “With this double feature exhibition of Drew Mullin and Evelyn Politzer’s work, I wanted to honor our garden’s mission of promoting environmental enjoyment through education, the arts and the interaction with the natural world.” Gaspar curates monthly exhibitions on an ongoing basis.
As you can see from the photographs, Tree Huggers and Nests: The Art of Evelyn Politzer is installed on the Garden’s lush grounds. The art is a call to action showing the need to defend and create measures to protect the planet’s natural reserves, particularly the Everglades. In assembling the tree branches for the nests and drawing together lines of threads and wool, Politzer creates a narrative of disappearance and survival. Each Nest tells the story of an endangered bird. Her other installation, Tree Huggers, consists of fabric and wire arms wrapped around a variety of trees in the Garden, and represents a call for unity, action and transformation.
In his exhibition, Native Orchids of South Florida: The Photographs of Drew Mullin, the Garden’s Orchid Specialist and Photographer highlights that Florida is home to 106 native species of orchids, 77 of which are either declared endangered or threatened by the State of Florida because of habitat destruction and poaching. This collection of photos are part of his work that included photographing the Everglades over the last 15 years. It works to bring awareness of threatened orchids by showcasing their beauty in a natural habitat.
A recent past exhibition explored quilting, a centuries-old form of expression and utility typically practiced by women, with a fresh and contemporary sensibility. The quilts by Susan Di Bartolo, Kristin Beck, Isabella Elias, Deb Kajkowski and Charlotte Noll represented their individual artistic styles in composition, color, texture and workmanship. Our ancestors made quilts as functional products (mainly as blankets utilizing leftover scraps of fabric), what developed from this “cottage industry” has evolved into an art form in recent decades. Quilting illustrates that art needs no “pedigree” – it is innately embedded in our souls awaiting the inspiration for it to take form.
Only a short walk from South Beach and behind the Miami Convention Center, the Miami Botanical Garden is a 3-acre subtropical garden paradise and event space, featuring a wetland with red mangrove and pond apple trees, an expansive water garden with a cascading oolite fountain, and diverse collections of flowering trees, palms, cycads, orchids, and Florida native species.
The current exhibitions are free and open to all. For more information, you can visit the website at www.mbgarden.org
— Victoria Larson
— Top photographs by Suzanne Isa, Miami Beach Botanical Garden
— Photographs of orchids by Miami Beach Botanical Garden Photographer, Drew Mullin.
— Photographs artists’ works by Miami Beach Botanical Garden Artistic Director, Gaspar Saldanha
— Spraying Fountain photo by photographer, Paul Clemence