Debra Prinzing

Get the Email Newsletter!

Art in the garden

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Here’s my January 2009 “In the Garden” column for 805 Living magazine, featuring artist and designer Jennifer Gilbert Asher and her beautiful sculpture.


GARDENS AS GALLERIES: Choose and place ornamentation with a thoughtful eye toward your garden’s overall design.

Why do artful objects – such as sculpture, salvaged architectural fragments or even a birdbath – make such an impression in the garden?

Like adding jewelry to a little black dress, or a few bright pillows to a tired sofa, artwork, sculpture and ornamentation can take any garden from ordinary to extraordinary. Well-placed art adds to, rather than detracts from, the overall composition. In the winter, when the garden is quieter, artwork often takes center stage.

“Even though sculpture is a four-season element in the landscape, it becomes the star of the show when everything else is going dormant,” says Jennifer Gilbert Asher, principal of Woodland Hills-based Chilmark Gardens. [see Jennifer, right, with “Curvas,” placed in her own garden.]

Precious objects, displayed side-by-side with foliage and flower – or partially hidden among the stems and branches of a favorite plant – give a garden its personality. They also communicate volumes about its owner’s taste and style.

“I place sculpture not just to complement the garden, but to transform it,” Asher says. “A captivating sculpture can spike curiosity and provoke thought. It can be playful or energetic; meditative or even sensual.”

Asher was inspired to design a collection of bold, modern pieces after she had trouble finding affordable artwork for her client’s landscapes. “I was shocked at the lack of accessible fine art for the garden. I heard the same thing from other designers, all over the country. You shouldn’t have to be a millionaire to transform your landscape into an outdoor art gallery,” she says.

She teamed up with Los Angeles entrepreneur Karen Neill Tarnowski last fall to launch TerraSculpture, an online art gallery and sculpture studio. Asher design and create abstract, graphic forms in stainless, weathered and powder-coated steel.  TerraSculpture uses durable, outdoor-friendly material such as 11-gauge steel; finishes vary from brushed stainless to eye-popping primary colors. [at left: “Leap”]

With names like “Embrace” and “Closer,” many of the pieces evoke human emotions. And unlike the type of sculpture you’d see in public parks or museums, which is far too large for the domestic landscape, TerraSculpture’s designs range from 4-1/2-feet-tall to 6-1/2-feet-tall. (For customers whose homeowner-association covenants restrict anything that appears above backyard fences or walls, these dimensions offer added benefits.)