I am starved for gardens and art. Two years of the homebound life has meant experiencing these worlds through screens on phones, laptops and televisions. Going into the third pandemic spring, I had just one thought: I want to be in a garden.
With covid rates decreasing, and trusting in the vaccine and booster, I’ve ventured out and found my way into the world again. Wearing masks when prudent, practicing social distancing as best as I can.
Marie Selby Garden in Sarasota, Florida
My first garden outing in 2022 is one of the most amazing exhibits I’ve seen ~ “Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light” at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota, Florida, showcases Smith’s lyrics, Mapplethorpe’s flower portraits, amid lush tropical blooms and foliage.
Take a Tour
Smith and Mapplethorpe met in New York in 1967 and became friends and lovers as he pursued photography and she became a singer and songwriter. She wrote the story of their friendship in “Just Kids,” winning the National Book Award in 2010.
In a very simple way, the exhibit brought their story to life with photographs, interactive exhibits, recordings and, best of all, gorgeous plant material.
Orchids on Display
The orchid display is a simple idea, just perfect orchids in cachepots in frames, and are beautifully set against a white screen so they float on the wall.
Of course, Patti Smith is punk rock, but to me, that’s just part of the story. She’s an Earth Mother who invites you to her table. Her courage and creativity inspire me.
“To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It’s freedom.”
– Patti Smith
“In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.” ~ Patti Smith
The external displays in the koi pond were ever changing with the reflections of the garden and the movement of the fish.
Mapplethorpe died from complications of AIDS in 1989 at age 43. Patti Smith promised her friend that she would write their story and that became the award-winning “Just Kids.”
“Much has been said about Robert, and more will be added. Young men will adopt his gait. Young girls will wear white dresses and mourn his curls. He will be condemned and adored. His excesses damned or romanticized. In the end, truth will be found in his work, the corporeal body of the artist. It will not fall away.” – Patti Smith
See Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light at Marie Selby Botanical Garden through June 26, 2022.
More Travel Stories
It’s a far cry from 1970’s New York and even the tropical gardens of Sarasota, but still connected with flowers, poetry and light. Check out my story about visiting Selma, Alabama.