Art in a Garden (Center)

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Everyone loves a garden, and for those of us who love to put our hands in the dirt, a garden center. Located on nine acres down a quiet suburban street in North Dallas, the North Haven Garden Center includes a greenhouse, but that is just the beginning. There’s a gift shop, café and gallery, classrooms and meeting rooms the public can rent. A pop-up art market is open for the day in one of the rooms. I recently moved to North Dallas and stepping onto the grounds is a delightful discovery on a sunny summer Saturday.

I enter through the store and gift shop where I encounter a display of ruby red hummingbird feeders, a rack of cards and painted tiles created by local artists. Making my way to the back there are wind chimes and stacks of colorful gazed pots. I spot a whimsical yellow pig shaped pot that makes me smile, but I am looking for the gallery which a sales lady gracefully points the way, out the back door into the main garden section. I pass through the patio beside the café where a young man is playing the guitar while an older couple sips coffee. The door handles to the gallery are made out of shovels. That makes me smile too. Two minutes into North Haven Garden Center and I decide this a place I want to spend some time exploring and return to again and again.

I open the gallery doors; it is spacious and well lit. I immediately begin to take everything in. I stop by the little information table with a list of artists and a description of their pieces hanging on the walls. I pick up a few business cards from the table and begin to put names and stories together with the art. I am happy to see the garden center offers watercolor classes. I spot information on an acrylic painting class one of the exhibiting artists, Melanie Brannan is teaching. All the art in the exhibit is rich in color and Melanie’s glowing landscapes and cloud filled paintings are of interest to me because I am studying landscape paintings. Her landscapes are vibrant and free flowing and give me permission to abstract the genre. Her work is bold and pushes the subject matter in a powerful direction.

The title of the show is Luminous by Nature. The art is true to its theme and revolves around trees and landscapes and some wonderfully clever bird renderings worked into collages by Tori Pendergrass a local artist and teacher. I take a closer look at Sunny Jacquet’s surrealistic fruit pieces. Both artists pay close attention to detail but break from realism by placing the subject in unexpected surroundings; Jacuet’s fruit hangs from a wall while Tori’s detailed birds are framed in textured cutout backgrounds.

I recognize another artist whose work I have seen at the Cottonwood Art Festival a few years ago, Gregory Arth. I am always drawn to his circuit board art. There is one piece in the show of a sprawling tree pieced together with circuit board parts along other paintings that are iconic interpretation of trees with sheet music worked into the branches and circular shaped foliage.

I came to see Kim Collins give an art talk and am not disappointed; her acrylic work covers one large wall and her resin piece line the hallway between the cafe and the gallery. The form in her art is recognizable but the art tilts towards abstraction. Again, landscapes and florals are the theme but her vibrant brush strokes have a loose calligraphic feel and a sense of energy like grass blowing in the wind.

All of the work on display makes me stop and take a closer look, makes me glad I took the time to come and explore the venue. I like the whole idea of promoting art and encouraging artists surrounded by row after row of plants and flowers. Kim Collins in her talk described art as about eye candy, for me both the gallery and the garden center are a visual treat.

Before I leave I take photos of plants and blooming flowers for future watercolor projects and decide to invite my son Sean and his girlfriend Casie to join me next week for lunch. They like to try new places to eat and we often visit art galleries and gardens together.

Luminous by Nature closed on June 18th, but I encourage you to visit the artist’s websites to examine their work and find future exhibits of their art. Check out the garden center website for their class and event schedule and plan a day to visit if you live in or visit the DFW area. Please comment below if you have found a new favorite place in DFW or your home town that you want other people to know about.

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