SHE SAID: I think we should talk about some of the things that are actually in our garden — you know, the man-made things you wanted to get rid of a couple of weeks ago.
HE SAID: I didn't really want to throw them all out; but I thought we should try to see them as others might, without our emotional attachment. The Valentine piece, for instance ...
SHE: It's staying!
HE: I made this piece for Linda one summer while she was away attend an art class in Door County, Wisconsin, as an out-of-season valentine. It consists of three discarded industrial saw blades of the type used to make cuts in concrete pavement. On them, I wrote "I Love You" in German ("Ich Liebe Dich") using a commercial rust inhibitor.
HE: Calm down; I'm not suggesting we get rid of it. But — honestly — how does it connect to our garden?
SHE: Well ... it's round like the window you're planning for the Tea House, and the Moon Garden and the circle around the Mica rock.
We bought this red rock which is riddled with mica because we couldn't resist. But when it came time to place it in the garden, we found that it didn't "fit" anywhere; it was too dramatic. Rather than trying to make it blend in, we finally decided to frame it within a circle of ivy.
HE: And it does have that nicely rusty surface which qualifies it for Wabi-Sabi status. But what is it doing there? What does it contribute to the overall vision of the garden?
SHE: I think it adds mystery, and poetry. It's never seemed to bother you when Ian Finlay added textual elements to his garden. Am I wrong, or aren't you quite fond of Little Sparta?
HE: OK, OK. But that was the whole point of his garden — the classical literary allusions. Do you think that it still works if we only have the one piece of text?
SHE: In our case, it's not the text that's important; it's the inclusion of objects that are compatible with the garden as a whole.
HE: Remember how we struggled with the baskeball standard? You so desperately wanted that to work as sculpture; and no matter what we tried, what color we painted it, where we placed it, we were never happy with it.
SHE: Unlike the obelisk, which has always looked great no matter how you configured it or where we put it.
This sculpture is made of 84 pieces of limestone recycled from a building project on the University of Wisconsin campus. Mark cut each pair of pieces slightly smaller that the next which gave them a gradual taper as they were stacked. Beginning with an obelisk arrangement, this is the third different stacking pattern we've used as the sculpture has been moved from place to place.
HE: Which reminds me, I've been thinking it's about time I tried something new with it.
SHE: Not until you get the Tea House finished! And maybe not even then, as the area around it has now all been landscaped using it as a focal point.
HE: Getting back to the subject, what about the cello piece?
This is a cast iron form used to make 3/4 size cellos. We found it at a local shop — "Unearthed" — that specializes in recycled industrial products for the home.
SHE: I like it.
HE: I don't know. I find it somehow too literal, not literary, but concrete, for the garden. I'd like to try it inside. I think music is more of an indoor idea.
SHE: What about the bells? We've got what, eight bells in the garden? What's the difference?
HE: Well the bells are as much about the sound as they are about their form. They're about interacting — with the wind in the case of the Soleri bells — and with people for the ones that need to be struck to make a sound. The cello, for me, is about the contradictions: the heavy iron version of a delicate instrument, pitted rust versus polished wood.
SHE: I'm willing to give it a try inside. Oh, and I thought of something else that works that's round — our ceramic platters.
HE: I won't argue with you about that. There's something about wood-fired ceramics that just seems to be a natural in the garden.
SHE: How long ago was it that I took you out to Mark Skudlarek's to see his big pots?
HE: And we came home with the biggest one he had.
SHE: And never regretted it.