Statement about Project

Gardens are sites of recreation. Ours is a dysfunctional sporting arena, a picturesque court, a parallel course, a tactically social space.

The park and garden provide a space, a social space where nature can be viewed in a controlled and carefully tended environment. Our garden fuses assorted visual structures in celebration of parallel fields in which social activities are located. The precision and mechanistic perfection of sports mirror the aesthetic architecture or structure of high culture. In other words, the status or symbolic significance that golf and tennis, as cultural activities, embody.

We are confused whether to pacify or activate you, the viewer. We, however, enjoy the opportunity to widen the expected sphere of activity for (public) art.

The scheduled daily events allow conversation between audiences and an exploration of our ambivalent relationship to nature, culture and other things.

We want to dialogue with you.


Artist's Garden Project
Highland Park
Rochester, New York
May/June 1996

Presented by:
the Highland Park Conservancy
Co-sponsored by the Monroe County Parks Department
& the Lilac Festival Committee

Dedicated to Erik Hans Krause
"Each one has his own real thing; mine is the garden."
Louisa Yeomans King

The Artist's Garden Project explores the integration of art and nature in Rochester, N.Y., through a series of temporary garden installations. The competition is inspired by public passions of past, present and future: the area's rich horticultural heritage, a regional renaissance in garden-making, and a new communal involvement in the preservation of Highland Park. The Highland Park Conservancy, in cooperation with the Monroe County Parks Department and the Lilac Festival Committee, seeks to encourage people to interact with Highland Park, a place created to express the unique spirit of Rochester.

The competition is about human interaction with nature over time. The 19th-century vision of plantsmen George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry was to present a showcase of plants hardy to this area, to celebrate with fellow Rochesterians and the world the possibilities of the soil, space and time. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted refined this plan into an urban park, creating for the citizens of Rochester a green place of refuge within the city with distant views of its surroundings. Together, the three men responded to the human need for beauty. There have been changes to the park over time, but people still heed the call of the original designers. We come to Highland Park to acknowledge the beauty of its plants, spaces and views. Whether a solitary walk in the pinetum or a springtime celebration of the lilacs or a snowy afternoon in the tropical Conservatory, we keep coming back to love and to praise. We come to Highland Park to express our connection to the Place. The Artist's Garden Project speaks to this connection. The four temporary installations--three jury selections and one special display--will be spaces where people can revisit familiar notions of the park and learn new ways of seeing it. Staged in the newer Highland Park South, the gardens will create links between old park and new, past and present. Each garden will illustrate the artist's interpretation of the park as Place. Visitors will encounter the gardens on their way to and from the Lilac Festival, and will see them from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the AIDS Remembrance Garden. Each garden will invite visitors in to experience the artist's vision.

Stuart D. MacKenzie, ASLA
Cindy Mindell-Wong, MLA

Arena's Florist Inc.
Pattie Beckmann
Big Bear Enterprises
Chase-Pitkin Home and Garden
Winnifred and Angelo Chiarella
Congdon and Weller Nursery,
North Collins, N.Y.
Cornell Cooperative Extension
Kristin Davies
The Estate Gardener, Megan MacKenzie
Jean Garrett
The Jolt Co. Inc. and C.J. Rapp
Keenan's Edgewood Nursery, Jeff Hathorn
Colin Kennedy
Kinko's Copies, East Avenue
LaFave Party Rental Inc.
Lilac Festival Committee
Lucas Greenhouses
Suzanna Lyons and the Genesee Finger Lakes
Nursery & Landscape Association
Monroe County Parks Department:
Bob Hoepfl, Mark Quinn and Tim Sturm
Marci Muller and Marstan Landscaping
Northern Nurseries of New York
Bob Peterson
Rochester Civic Garden Center
City of Rochester Department of Parks,
Recreation and Human Services:
Alan Colletta and Jim Farr
Christine Schilling
Tennis Club of Rochester
Oakhill Country Club
Nancy Turner
Van Putte Gardens
Wayside Garden Center
Wegmans Food Markets Inc.

Cat Ashworth
Ann Chaintreuil, AIA
L. William Chapin II, FAIA
Terrence J. Gleason, ASLA
Richard Margolis
Vincent Massaro
Sperantza Sobol, ASID

Highland Park is the oldest park in Rochester and the first public arboretum in the country. Established in 1888 on 20 acres donated by nurserymen George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, Highland Park today is both a beautiful landscape and a living museum of trees and shrubs.

Highland Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, America's foremost landscape architect, and the creator of New York City's Central Park. In Highland Park, Olmsted blended deciduous groves, rolling meadows, a pinetum and a shrub arboretum. He crowned the park with an open pavilion, donated by Ellwanger and dedicated to the children of Rochester. From atop the hill neighboring the reservoir, the Children's Pavilion offered panoramic views of the park and the growing city.

A number of notable locals worked to fulfill Olmsted's vision of a world-class horticultural preserve. Superintendent Calvin Laney sought out specimens of all the trees and shrubs of Western New York, and horticulturist John Dunbar assembled more than 100 varieties of evergreens for the pinetum. More recently, horticulturists Bernard Slavin and Richard Fennicchia have continued to expand and enrich the park's varied plant collections, searching out rare and unusual species and watching over their care and cultivation. Today, Highland Park is known best for the unusual and hardy lilacs that blossom each spring. But it is so much more than that. The Highland Park Conservancy is dedicated to maintaining the park's extraordinary plant collections and continuing the vision that took shape more than a century ago.

Highland Park South was developed as an expansion to the park in the early 1980s as a staging area for the Lilac Festival, and to provide relief to the historic portion of the park from the heavy festival crowds.

Site work began in July 1984. A bulldozer operator uncovered six human skeletons; shortly thereafter, rainstorms washed to the surface six more. At first the remains were thought to be from the family cemetery of Erastus Stanley, the landowner who had sold the site to the county in 1826. But archaeologists discovered many more skeletons, and 19th-century plat maps and town records revealed that the land had housed the Monroe County Almshouse, Insane Asylum and Penitentiary. A self-sufficient operation, the institutional campus had included a burial ground for its inmates.

The excavation, led by the Rochester Museum & Science Center, discovered 305 graves, some of them multiple burials; 296 skeletons were reinterred in nearby Mount Hope Cemetery. Other remains, too fragile or too deep, were left undisturbed, as was the rest of the burial ground. Park designers rerouted paths to skirt the cemetery, and the county placed a boulder-marker in the center of the site to commemorate the lives of those buried there.

Two new community memorials now sit adjacent to the burial ground, built on land donated by the county:

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester: Ten years in the making, the memorial was conceived in 1986 as a place of healing, education and remembrance. The land was acquired in 1990 and groundbreaking took place in 1991. Built on two acres by Vietnam veterans and other volunteers, the memorial pays tribute to nearly 300 local men killed or missing in action. It will be dedicated in September 1996. The AIDS Remembrance Garden: This memorial was conceived by community groups in 1990 as a serene place of hope, healing and public awareness. Dedicated in 1993, the two-acre site is a memorial arboretum, a collection of plants "chosen for sentimental, nostalgic, courageous and reconciliatory reasons." A parallel memorial, the Book of Life, holds the first names of all in the area who have died of AIDS.

The nature of my sculptural work is about creating a presence; the affective presence of an object; and the power invested in the object as a kind of fetish, icon or talisman. Both found and chosen manmade materials, and those in nature, are incorporated to bring about objects of the unconscious. This sculpture, "Uproot," is a mechanical plant form. It is an unearthed bulb, a metaphor for dormancy and latent growth. My relationship to nature and what I experience with my environment is dealt with in response to a plethora of sterile technology, religious dogma and political demagoguery that would see to the eradication of any art which is either visceral or metaphysical and which derives from the soul. In the composition of the sculpture I have employed both organic materials which are living and others which were living but are now dead, as well as inorganic materials. Being both organic and inorganic, living and dead, the sculpture expresses a paradoxical dichotomy. The soil bed of mulch extends the bounds of the sculpture, both by its physical dimensions and through its fragrant aura, to penetrate the senses and invite a more active participation from the "viewer"ù to interact more as a sojourner in this place to be experienced than merely as an onlooker of an object to be viewed. Lovingly dedicated to Sherry for her love and support. Special thanks to Dianne DeCaire and Phil Florin for their invaluable expertise and friendship.

Extending beyond the boundaries of his ongoing garden project at 360 Canterbury Road in Rochester, N.Y., local artist Vincent Massaro will create an environmental piece of work for the Artist's Garden Project during the 1996 Lilac Festival at Highland Park. A 7-foot-diameter sphere with an organic skin (and a metal skeletal structure) will be constructed on site during the week of the festival. On one of the festival days, students from the Children's School of Rochester will participate by assisting Massaro with some of the final stages of the project. When the project at Highland Park is completed, Massaro hopes to relocate the sphere to various public and private sites throughout Rochester.

In our day-to-day hustle and bustle, how many of us take notice of the multitude of textures that surround us, adding variety and interest to our world? Highland Park abounds in textures: textures we can touch, see, smell and hear.

At Rochester City School No. 6, we celebrate Rochester and its past every day as we study our Genesee River Valley Project curriculum. We pay tribute to the great nurserypeople and horticulturists who transformed Rochester from the Flour City to the Flower City. And today, with our clay-tile pillar sculpture and garden of textures, we honor Frederick Law Olmsted and all the others who filled Highland Park with the wonderful assortment of textures that we enjoy so much and that make this park so very special.

The purpose of this garden is for children and adults alike to experience, interact with and learn to see the natural and humanmade worlds in a new way: through the enhancement of texture. The design is intentionally simple so that the experience will be direct and clear. This garden is to be informative yet fun!

It is the result of a collaboration between School No. 6 artist/teacher Ann Schauman, 2nd- and 3rd-grade artists, and the School No. 6 Garden Club.

About the artists:
Ann Schauman has been an art educator for 19 years who loves to experiment and, in the process, challenge herself and her students. She is a practicing artist currently serving on the board of directors of the Pyramid Arts Center. Her favorite media are the earth and natural materials in sculpting and painting. She is a passionate gardener and landscaper working on a degree in ornamental horticulture at Finger Lakes Community College. Ann is in the process of organizing a community garden for School No. 6 families and Upper Falls neighbors. One of her greatest joys has been to watch her son, Alexander, grow and develop as an artist, challenging her to grow as well. It was Alex who told her about the Artist's Garden Project. The 7-, 8- and 9-year-old artists who created the textured clay tiles for the pillar sculpture are regular kids who LOVE to use any sort of art material, though clay is one of their absolute favorites. The School No. 6 Garden Club, which helped plant this garden, is composed this year of very enthusiastic 5th-grade girls who have no qualms about getting their hands dirty. They are just as thrilled about finding a snail as they are about discovering a flower. They are a small but mighty group! This garden, which will be relocated to School No. 6 upon completion of the Artist's Garden Project, is in memory of our late principal, Barbara J. McGriff, who believed in us.