Saturday, April 21, 2018

The biggest surprise of Trump's presidency? Melania tends Michelle's garden

I strolled around the Clay Paper Scissors Gallery last week admiring the "In The Garden" exhibit. It's all about growing things, one of my favorite subjects. It is spring, after all, but the snow falling outside my window annoys me. April showers bring May and June flowers, so let it snow. I will get around to gardening eventually. The anticipation of planting is almost as good as the real thing. I am a spring and summer guy. The warmth is part of it. But I have come to believe that i revel in this act of creation that begins with warming days.

Is there a gardening gene? My father was a grower. He spent his last years tending the gardens at St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church in Ormond Beach, Fla., the church where Chris and I were married 36 years ago. His father grew on a farm and tended an impressive garden at his house in Denver's Park Hill. His specialties were roses and tomatoes. If he could have produced a tomato shaped like a rose, he would have been a happy man.

I thought of creation this morning when Venezuelan-born chef  Lorena Garcia was asked what person, living or dead, she would like to share a meal with. Michelle Obama was her answer, a woman who inspired her. I think of Michelle's White House Kitchen Garden. It was meant to be a creative place where Michelle educated children about healthy lifestyles. Veggies and herbs harvested from the garden went to the White House kitchen and local food banks. Grow your own food, eat your own food. The First Lady was a proponent of children's health. She wanted schools to stop serving junk in their cafeterias. She encouraged schools and communities to plant gardens. She wrote a book.

Most of us thought that our junk-food-eating president would rip out Michelle's garden when he took office. We wondered what might go in its place. An oil rig? Golf course? A McDonald's? Surprisingly, the garden remains. First Lady Melania Trump still oversees tending of the garden. School kids come in to help with the harvest. Surprised the hell out of me. It did not surprise me that Melania wore a $1,380 Balmain plaid shirt at a garden harvest last September. I guess you could say she also is growing the market for high-end gardening attire.

But I continue to hope that America's garden will not be destroyed during Trump's presidency. He has, however, done his best to roll back environmental regulations, cannibalize public education, and slash government programs that assist millions. He needs some gardening advice, although I doubt that he will listen.

When you plant a garden, you create new life from the ground up. When you paint a painting, you introduce the world to a new vision, your vision. Creative writing, song composition,  sculpture. All creative enterprises. It takes a long time to become adept in your chosen area. There is little monetary payoff along the way and maybe never. But still you create because that is what you are called upon to do.

In a time when every blessed thing is commodified, I find hope in Melania's garden. Seeds are sprouting today at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps they will take root someday in the Oval Office, the entire West Wing, all over D.C.

This kind of creation keeps hope alive.

And get over to Clay Paper Scissors at 1513 Carey Avenue in downtown Cheyenne and view garden-themed artwork by artists Win Ratz, Lynn Newman, Wendy Bredehoft and many others. There is some neat mixed-media work by Gillette's Heidi Larsen and some unique felted flowers by Cheyenne's Melanie Shovelski. If you're in the market for a garden furniture, check out Gary Havener's native pine and willow benches. For more of Bredehoft's cut-paper-and-wood "Botanics," see her show at Cheyenne Botanic Gardens gallery.


Lynn said...

Thanks for the heads up on the gardening exhibit. I'm a huge fan of Lynn Newman's art--if I ever win the lottery I want to buy up some of his paintings :-)

Weeding is one of the activities I use to allow my back-burner brain to work on whatever piece of writing is currently under production. Don't have an official garden anymore--we're letting the prairie do its thing for the most part. But I do pull the Russian thistles--otherwise they take over.

People are hard on Melania, but who can blame her for hiding out as much as she does? If she finds any kind of refuge at the site of Michelle's garden, I'm happy for her.

Michael Shay said...

Clay Paper Scissors is open on weekends and for the monthly ArtWalk. The trolley runs on ArtWalk nights, mainly to take people to the Botanic Gardens and its gallery. Lynn has two pieces in the current show. I too would like some of his paintings for my place.