The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) sited in the Bronx is an appealing museum of plants, an educational institution, and a scientific research organization founded in 1891.
Starting in the 2018 Spring through Summer, the NYBG will honour its own, the renowned American twentieth century artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986). The NYBG are producing a landmark show May 19 – October 28: Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i.
The display has been designed by Francisca Coelho, with set pieces by Tony Award-winning set designer Scott Pask.
Aloha Nights, an evening event program, will spotlight the exotic lush culture that captured Georgia O’Keeffe’s imagination as she revolutionized modern art in her own country during a long lifetime.
Georgia O’Keeffe became one of its most important although prickly cultural icons, celebrated best perhaps for her exceptional powers of observation.
Her fabulous paintings of flowers inspired, enlarged and expanded the European tradition of flower painting during the 1920s. She painted her flowers as if she had seen them through a magnifying lens; big, bold and beautiful.
Flowers such as those Georgia O’Keeffe encountered and painted while visiting Hawai‘i are included in borders of colourful tropical garden plants in the Edith A. Haupt Conservatory, including frangipani, bougainvillea, heliconia and hibiscus, bird of paradise and ginger.
The exhibition will also seek to introduce visitors to the profound importance of plants in Hawaiian culture and the ongoing and growing concerns about threats to native Hawaiian plants.
Hawaii, because of its isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, has an unusually high proportion (89%) of endemic native plant species.
Their native yellow hibiscus is the official Hawaii state flower and it grows in dry forests and shrub lands at lower elevations and has a variety of subspecies varying in appearance, growing on its different islands.
The hibiscus, which often forms part of the garland or ‘lei’ visitors are greeted in the islands, is also an indigenous plant native to other tropical and sub-tropical places around the world where it brightens the day.
Georgia O’Keeffe was 51 years of age when she accepted a commission from the Hawaiian Pineapple Company to produce two paintings for their upcoming advertising campaigns.
To do that she flew to Oahu in 1939, visiting the islands of Kauai and Maui as well, immersing herself in the landscape and flora of the Hawaiian landscape for some nine weeks, where she encountered stunning views of mountains and waterfalls.
Georgia O’Keeffe integrated art, horticulture and historicity together and the twenty paintings she created, would have a decisive cultural impact on people’s perceptions about the islands and the ecological complexity of its flora. They gained critical and popular attention when first exhibited at her husband Alfred Stieglitz’s (1864–1946) gallery in 1940.
The paintings will be on display in the Art Gallery of the NYBG Mertz Library, some not seen together in New York since their debut.Stieglitz and O’Keeffe married in 1924 and she became his personal icon for the authentic American-born modernist painter, captivated as he was by the allure of her powerful physical presence that reveal she was a very strong individual.
The Hawaiian Islands have always seemed exotic to visitors with its endless sun, sandy beaches and natural beauty. They were associated with many early explorers and plant hunters, who plundered specimens from the native soil from the seventeenth century onward.
A rich program of performances, events, demonstrations and activities throughout the Garden, for adults and children, will include a film series and a symposium.
They will help celebrate the diverse cultural traditions of Hawai‘i past and present, as well as the beauty and variety of Hawai‘i’s flora, recorded before the islands became America’s 50th State.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018
May 19 – October 28, 2018
2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10458
For more information, please call 718.817.8700
The New York Botanical Garden is located at Bronx River Parkway (Exit 7W) and Fordham Road. It is easy to reach by Metro-North Railroad, bus, or subway. The Garden is open year-round, Tuesday through Sunday and Monday federal holidays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The best way to enjoy the Garden is with the All-Garden Pass, which includes admission to the grounds as well as to seasonal gardens, exhibitions, and attractions such as the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, and Tram Tour