It’s Unpredictable and Groovy – Gladstone’s Grow Op 2016


By Diana Condolo

Gladstone’s Grow Op 2016 invites you to see, touch, hear, and smell the exhibits. If you opt in for a drink, you’ll have all five senses engaged. The Gladstone Hotel’s landscape art exhibition features 30 surreal installations and the theme is cultivating curiosity.

Walking into the entrance of the Gladstone Hotel, I thought I was walking into a garden party, pretty yellow daffodils were all around me – hundreds of them – feeling like the height of spring.

Yellow daffodils dangle from the ceiling and sprout out of the floor at Gladstone's Grow Op 2016.
Hundreds of yellow daffodils dangle from the ceiling and sprout out of the floor.

The artfully arranged patches of grass are dramatically lit. It is rare to have grass at your chin level, unless you’re lying on the grass.

Lush mounds of grass float over mirrored pools at Gladstone's Grow Op 2016
Lush mounds of grass float over mirrored pools

This installation of hanging teardrop-shaped vessels is at eye level, casting light and chemical reactions. Inside each one, a solution of metal salts, sodium silicate and manganese (II) chloride produces bright pink crystals that will continue to grow through the show. It is enticing to all, but extra special to photographers who want to take that special photo that wows.

The multi-media artist Michael Rennick filled a room with sculptures of resin-cast hands, surrounded by odd bits of nature. His current body of work is based around the mysteries of the forest.

Miniature tree houses clustered on a bark at Gladstone's Grow Op 2016
Miniature tree houses clustered on a bark

Artist Vivian Wong cut up her old school textbooks and white tissue paper to make thousands of flower petals. She has them scattered across the floor and hung from tree branches like a mobile. It reminded me of the cherry blossom season, which is just a few weeks away. You are invited to write a verse or a wish and tie it on a twig and share in the creation of a tanabata wishing tree.

These bottles contained the anti-depressants prescribed to and consumed by the artist and were then reused to see which plants and herbs grow in the small containers. It is both an experiment on gardening and on psychology. If the plants grow lush and green, will the viewer deem the prescription effective? If they all wilt and die, will we come to cynical conclusions?

I’d hit the Gladstone’s Grow Op 2016 this weekend to see the juxtaposition of urban and wild, to hear the chirping of birds, to smell and feel the grass. And to maybe taste the crickets. Or maybe not.

Oh, you’ve got to see a quilt to remediate a former landfill, the cricket reactor and much more.

Just in time for Earth Day, the Gladstone Hotel’s 4th annual Grow Op exhibition runs from April 21 – 24, 2016.