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‘Portraits of the Garden’ opens at Sturt Haaga Gallery

‘Portraits of the Garden’ exhibit at Sturt Haaga Gallery
Gallery C featured works by 92 artists who participated in the juried exhibition at Sturt Haaga Gallery at Descanso Gardens.
(Courtesy of Descanso Gardens)

The January show at the Sturt Haaga Gallery in Descanso Gardens intimately toys with the bandwidth of botany, allowing the Los Angeles contemporary art scene to play with social media engagement and bend tradition. 

At the entry of the gallery’s first show of 2014, titled, “Portraits of the Garden,” images of native oak trees, flora and the iconic Japanese bridge at Descanso Gardens rotate on an online video installation. Shots were collected via Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtag #Portraitsofthegarden, and as user-generated submissions grow, so will the online site and video installation at the La Cañada gallery. 

Multiple mediums highlight work from three commissioned contemporary artists: Astrid Preston, Steve Roden and Linda Hudson, along with pieces by Mary-Austin Klein, Joel Glassman and Karen Reitzel. In addition, a jury-selected collection from 98 artists hangs salon-style, in an experiment crafted by Curator John David O’Brien.   

“We wanted to involve a large number of artists, with many different approaches,” O’Brien said.  


While Karen Reitzel’s playful silk flora and fauna titled “Showstopper” lines the wall, an experimental composite of garden sound samplings create Steve Roden’s portrait.  

Outside the gallery, Linda Hudson’s vertical, wave garden “Transverse” towers and connects the subject and portrait, O’Brien explains.  

“The idea is that art stimulates the conversation out the door and becomes part of the garden,” he said. 

The gallery asked people to submit their portraits of the garden, O’Brien said.  More than 300 submissions of varying mediums, including digitally modified photographs and sculptures, were collected from artists in the Los Angeles area and outside California.   


A jury selected the 150 exhibited works and O’Brien aimed to orchestrate a conversation.  

He ended up with a nearly 12-foot high area to display the pieces, including plein air style works from painters who would normally not be featured in a contemporary gallery.   

“We really look to present a very broad bandwidth. We hope that the broad bandwidth is stimulating and even a little challenging,” he said. 

“Portraits of the Garden” continues through March 30 at Sturt Haaga Gallery at Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintrige. The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Gallery admission is free with garden admission.

-- Nicole Charky,

Follow on Twitter: @Nicosharki.


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