Adkins Arboretum Native Plant Nursery to Host Special Night-Out Event, Open House

Josh Taylor aster butterflyAdkins Arboretum’s Native Plant Nursery will open its doors on Fri., Sept. 9 for a Night Out at the Nursery event. The public is invited for light fare, live music, a cash wine and beer bar, a raffle, a silent auction and shopping in a fun and festive atmosphere. The Nursery offers the Chesapeake region’s largest selection of ornamental native trees, shrubs, perennials, ferns and grasses.

Following the Night Out event, the Nursery will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 10 for a Fall Open House and Plant Sale. All members, including those who join during the Open House, receive a significant discount on plant purchases.

Brilliant orange butterfly weed and stunning red cardinal flower attract pollinators such as bees, birds and butterflies to the garden, while native asters add subtle shades of purple and blue. Redbud and dogwood dot the early-spring landscape with color, and shrubs such as aronia and beautyberry provide food and habitat for wildlife.

Fall is the best season for planting. Trees and shrubs planted in fall have a chance to set roots before the heat and stress of summer. The Arboretum participates in the Marylanders Plant Trees program, an initiative by the State of Maryland to encourage residents to plant native trees. The program offers a $25 coupon toward purchase of native trees that retail for $50 or more.

Open House visitors can also learn about the Arboretum’s Native Landscape Design Center, a unique offering that pairs homeowners with a landscape designer to create a beautiful and affordable native landscape that benefits wildlife and the environment.

Proceeds from plants sold at the Fall Open House benefit the Arboretum’s education programs. For more information, call 410-634-2847, extension 0 or visit adkinsarboretum.org.

Photo: Native asters add color to the fall garden and provide nectar for numerous butterfly species, including this painted lady. A selection of asters will be available at Adkins Arboretum’s Native Plant Nursery Fall Open House and Plant Sale on Sat., Sept. 10. Photo by Josh Taylor Jr.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information about programs, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Plein-Air Oil Paintings by Julia Sutliff at Adkins Through September

Guaranteed to lift the spirits even in the sultriest days of summer, Julia Sutliff’s small oil paintings are joyous, fresh and playful. In Four Seasons, her fourth solo show at Adkins Arboretum, on view through Sept. 30, you’ll find bright flowers dancing among meadow grasses, water glinting under trees heavy with summer leaves, and cattails standing brave and brittle in thin winter sunshine. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., Aug. 13 from 3 to 5 p.m.

"Bright Reeds and Blue" is among the plein-air oil paintings by Cockeysville artist Julia Sutliff on view through September at Adkins Arboretum. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., Aug. 13.

“Bright Reeds and Blue” is among the plein-air oil paintings by Cockeysville artist Julia Sutliff on view through September at Adkins Arboretum. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., Aug. 13.

Sutliff paints outdoors. She finds it doesn’t work for her to paint from photos or from memory, so she searches out pockets of nature surviving in the suburban sprawl near her home in Cockeysville, north of Baltimore.

“I try to catch nature in a free state, without interference from us,” she said. “So I haunt woods, ponds, streams and fields, looking for images that express the riotous celebration of life all around me.”

She often paints in places someone else might pass and never even notice, but Sutliff has honed her eye to see the magic of fleeting moments of light and color. She finds weather and the changing seasons constantly renewing the landscape and celebrates the shifting scenes they create, painting milkweed plants caught in the full sunlight just as their seedpods are swelling, then later as their color fades under cloudy autumn skies, and again in winter, stark and brittle against the snow.

Like many artists, she returns to similar themes to explore them in depth. Again and again, she paints cattails, branches leaning over water, and fields scattered with wildflowers. The changing seasons offer her infinite variety, and she delights in discovering something new and energizing in familiar scenes.

Two skills, developed over many years of painting, make Sutliff’s landscapes so lively—the lightness of her brushstrokes and the ability to use color to remarkable effect.

Late autumn flowers in luscious shades of orange sing out against the lime and grass green reeds around them and the soft shades of gray water behind in “Water’s Edge, Tangerine.” In “Patapsco, View of Ridge,” brushy strokes of color turn into a symphony of contrasting greens as light shines through the summer trees.

Sutliff’s color range is exceptionally broad. While many of her paintings burst with colors in mischievous combinations, others are achingly subtle. She has a particular mastery of the nuanced hues of winter. Her paintings of cattails capture an infinite range of lighting effects, from silvery reflections glinting off the ice, to the warmth of sunset’s glow, to the softness of overcast snowy skies.

These skills bring freshness to each painting. It’s as if you’re seeing something for the first time—catching a precious, intimate glimpse of nature as each new scene materializes from her quick, playful brushstrokes.

“I need to express grandeur, beauty, respect, awe,” Sutliff explained. “But I think playfulness trumps them all because it’s powerful enough to overcome the frustration of trying to get something ‘right,’ and to somehow let you participate in the beauty around you.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 30 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Outdoor Sculpture Invitational—Artists in Dialogue with Landscape on View at Adkins Arboretum

Ashley Kidner installing 'Swalevine'

Ashley Kidner installing ‘Swalevine’

Full of humor and surprises, Adkins Arboretum’s eighth biennial Outdoor Sculpture Invitational—Artists in Dialogue with Nature is on view through Sept. 30. As you walk down one of the quiet, forested paths, you may see a flash of blue where Julia Bloom’s stick sculptures cascade between the leafy green branches or delicate silver sparkles where Elizabeth McCue’s spider webs nestle in the grass of a sunny clearing.

Inspired by particular sites on the Arboretum grounds, nine artists from the Mid-Atlantic region have created work in close collaboration with the landscape. There will be a reception and guided sculpture walk on Sat., June 25 from 3 to 5 p.m. in conjunction with the reception for John Ruppert’s photography show in the Visitor’s Center.

Melissa Burley 'Ripple' close up

Melissa Burley ‘Ripple’

In addition to his indoor exhibit, Ruppert is showing an enormous aluminum pumpkin. Sitting under a tree near the Visitor’s Center, it’s a casting of a 700-pound prize pumpkin bred for its enormous size. A symbol of the bountiful harvest, it’s fun and it’s funny, but it’s also a clever way of calling to mind how hybridizing and genetic modification are changing our agricultural systems.

The influence humans have on nature is a theme that runs through this show. Set beside a bend in the creek, Melissa Burley’s “Ripple” evokes the glitter and splash of moving water. In a world where drought and pollution are all too common, its flashing mirrors and brilliant blue transparent disks call to mind the color, clarity and beauty of fresh, clean water.

Ashley Kidner, who works as a landscape contractor, takes on the problem of the introduction of non-native plants into the environment with his “Swalevine,” a huge twisting rope of vines collected from the Arboretum. Eliezer Sollins also gathered natural materials from the Arboretum’s grounds. Standing cheerfully at the edge of the forest, his “Earth Feeders” are made of everything from hollow logs to seedpods to goat’s fur and are meant to decay naturally, adding nutrients to the soil beneath them.

Eliezer Sollins Earth Feeders #1 close up (1)

Eliezer Sollins Earth Feeders

Such creative responses to the landscape both celebrate nature and invite thoughts about how its complicated ecology is too often upset by human intervention. Bridgette Guerzon Mills’s artist’s books tell stories about the beauty and fragility of the ecosystem. In a meditation on the challenges both plant and animal species face in adapting to our changing world, one of them has pages made from melted plastic grocery bags that look amazingly like the book’s bark covers.

While these artists are concerned with nature’s vulnerability, its amazing vitality is also an important theme throughout this show. In the folklore of many cultures, dragons are symbols of the earth’s energies. Tucked around the corner of the Visitor’s Center, Marcia Wolfson Ray’s “Dragon” doesn’t exactly look like a mythical beast, but there’s something about its twisting, turning line of open cubes of sticks encasing bristling bundles of dried plants that suggests a dragon’s dynamic strength and vitality.

Marcia Wolfson Ray installing Dragon

Marcia Wolfson Ray installing Dragon

Gary Irby conjures nature’s presence as something much larger than ourselves. You’ll get a start when the twin mirrored “eyes” of his “Nature’s Watching” suddenly glint at you from the side of the path. It’s comical, but there’s a message here. Standing on the forest path, you realize nature’s not only a very big thing, but you’re totally surrounded by it and, in a very real sense, it is indeed “watching” how humans treat or mistreat the environment.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 30 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Moments, Photographs and Sculpture by John Ruppert, on View through July at Adkins Arboretum

China’s strange, misty mountains and a tall cascading waterfall in Iceland greet visitors to Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center in Moments, an exhibit of large, superbly crafted photographs by internationally known artist John Ruppert on view through July 29. There will be a reception on Sat., June 25 from 3 to 5 p.m. to meet the artist and learn about his fascination with the effects of changing light, shifting atmospheres, moving water, and ever-evolving geological forces.

When Ruppert takes a photograph, he’s not just trying to capture a beautiful scene. What interests him more is how the landscape got to be the way it was at that very moment in time. On a visit to an island in Maine, he found boulders along the water’s edge worn smooth by centuries of wave action. During an artist’s residency in Iceland, he photographed glaciers where gritty stains in the ice traced the patterns of melting water.

A full professor and former chair of the Department of Art at the University of Maryland, College Park, Ruppert is best known for his cast-metal sculptures, including a huge aluminum pumpkin on view outside the Visitor’s Center. His interest in the physical process of casting with molten metal parallels his passion for exploring how landscapes change over eons of geological time as well as in fleeting moments of shifting light and atmosphere.

"Sea Cave/The Iceland Project 2012–13" is among the photographs by John Ruppert on view at Adkins Arboretum. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., June 25.

“Sea Cave/The Iceland Project 2012–13” is among the photographs by John Ruppert on view at Adkins Arboretum. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., June 25.

Ruppert is an experimenter. He freely tries things out. Most of the images in the show are composites of several photographs digitally “stitched” together in his computer. The show’s title, Moments, refers to how the photos, taken one after another, actually show the landscape over several moments of time combined into one image.

But it’s not just the physical changes of the landscape that he’s exploring. He’s also giving a taste of how it feels to be in that landscape by presenting his photographs in several different ways.

While on a team-teaching visit to China, Ruppert traveled to the Zhangjiaje Mountains, whose peculiar pillar-like shapes emerging from fog were made famous by classic Chinese brush painting. To give a sense of the luminous light emanating from the fog, he printed his images of the shadowy mountains directly onto tall aluminum plates. Light reflects softly off the aluminum, and as you move, it magically shifts with you.

Two photographs of rocks and water on the edge of an island in Maine received a very different treatment. Here the images are on shiny sheets of acrylic.

“I wanted to play up the light being reflected off the water and the transparency of looking through the water,” Ruppert explained. “The acrylic carries kind of a wet look and, being very reflective, you get reflected in it as well.”

This kind of mischief runs through all of Ruppert’s work. While his images continually call to mind the grand and sublime beauty of traditional landscape art, there are always paradoxes and comic elements. The towering cascade he photographed in Iceland is broken up into segments like frames in a film, emphasizing the time it takes for the water to fall. A volcanic crater vent he shot on the same trip is repeated four times to experiment with how different its colors look next to the contrasting hues he inserted as backgrounds.

A particularly odd thing happens in one of the water photos from Maine when both the breeze and light changed.

“You can see this little weird thing here is a moment when the water was like this, and then this is another moment,” Ruppert said, pointing to a junction of mismatched ripples and reflections. “A lot of times, when you stitch things, there are funny little artifacts of the process.”

For Ruppert, photography has become a kind of drawing tool that he can use to hint at the forces continually shaping his landscapes. By merging the instants of time caught in several photos, he plays with both space and time to create compelling glimpses of the earth’s constant state of transformation.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through July 29 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Great American Campout is June 25 & 26 at Adkins Arboretum

Welcome summer by participating in the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout, June 25 and 26 at Adkins Arboretum! Join a naturalist-led “walk and wade” along the Blockston Branch, roast hot dogs and marshmallows, catch fireflies, take a flashlight hike and scan the night sky with Delmarva Stargazers. Children’s crafts, campfire songs, spooky stories, a morning bike ride, and squirt gun and sprinkler time round out the fun.

Campers should bring their own water bottles, camping gear, flashlights and a side dish to share. Bikes, guitars and water pistols are optional. The Arboretum will provide hot dogs, buns, marshmallows, paper goods and breakfast.

The campout is $20 for adults, $10 for children. Reserve your spot at adkinsarboretum.org, or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0. Visit adkinsarboretum.org for a schedule of events.