I have a thing for bamboo. Maybe it’s the association with cute panda bears or maybe it’s the jungle feeling of it without the fear of pythons suddenly choking me. It’s peaceful yet tough, delicate yet majestic and it’s now the material of sculpture at Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street with the Kizuna: West Meets East exhibit.
In one of their largest artistic installations to date, the Denver Botanic Gardens welcomed artists Tetsunori Kawana and Stephen Talasnik to assemble their varied, site-specific sculptures. Made of different types of bamboo which are cut and peeled and bent to their artistic will, the sculptors give new appreciation to these plants and to the areas of Denver Botanic Gardens in which they now reside.
Stephen Talasnik created smaller-scale works, most of which float and turn in the Monet’s Garden pond making for ever-changing views. I feel for the geese and ducks who normally only have to share the pond with water lilies and insects. We witnessed several geese ascend for their usual landing and squawk “What the…?!” I’m sure they’ll get used to it and learn to enjoy the opportunities for shelter and camouflage. We wondered, too, if other birds will turn the sculptures into their artistic nesting grounds and what spider webs will look like, illuminated by late afternoon light. There’s a lot of potential for how these sculptures made of natural materials will become a part of the ecosystem of the gardens as time goes on. The bamboo itself will fade and change as the seasons do throughout their stay until November 4.
My favorite sculptures were the larger scale ones done by Tetsunori Kawana, whose own beautiful waves of greying hair remind me of his undulating cascades of bamboo in his sculptures. After passing the first, hour glass-like sculpture near the entryway to the gardens, go straight and you can’t miss the amber waves up on the hill or the serpentine ribbons surrounding the highest look-out point of the gardens. They are fluid and have movement, especially the waves whose upper ends literally bend and bounce freely in the wind. It’s magical and amazing. If I hadn’t seen the artist and his volunteers assembling the sculptures myself, it would be hard to imagine that many hands could help create a singular vision so well.
Plan to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens at 1007 York Street often this summer and beyond to see how the gardens and the sculptures change. They are open 9am-8pm daily through the summer. Visit www.botanicgardens.org for all of the activities surrounding this exhibit, including the unveiling of the newly expanded Japanese Garden, Shofu-en, as well as general goings-on at this location, their rural and historic Chatfield and hike-worthy Mt. Goliath locations.