Birds on the Brink
by Lynda Millner
Lotusland always seems like a magical place to me and it didn't disappoint with its latest exhibition called FLOCK: Birds on the Brink. Guest curator Nancy Gifford (in her feathered chapeau) explained, "The show is inspired by an environmental imperative - the global loss of wild bird populations as an indicator of our planet's health."
A sold-out crowd arrived at the gardens for the opening of FLOCK with the workds of 35 artists, 15 local and 20 international, on display both in the galleries plus seven hidden in the gardens. One of the outdoor displays was a murder of crows. I never knew a group of crows was called a murder.
It truly was a visceral experience. One of my favorites was "Flutter and Strum," an aviary whose floor was covered in sheets of music and whose live birds were playing guitars, literally. They would land on the strings and hear a sound. Some of them would use their beaks to strum the strings and others would sing after hearing the music.
Another was a video of a dancer at the Japanese Garden mimicking the movement of egrets. It was fascinating to sit in a robotic wing chair decorated with white feathers, which opened and closed depending on my breathing patterns. "Blackbirds" swooping over our heads was especially memorable. There were paintings, mechanical birds, a peacock topiary, birds in every form artists could imagine.
When I asked Nancy how she gound all these artists, she responded, "One way was I googed artists who paint bird nests." Lisa Myers from Santa Fe, New Mexico, responded by painting things especially for the Lotusland show like one depicting the lotus flower. The exhibit is the culmination of at least a year and a half of work by many people, included the staff headed up by