South Minneapolis resident Moira Bateman(of Kingfield) is one of five local artists whose artworks have been selected for display in the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s “Powerhouse Plants” 2010 summer exhibition celebrating all things green and growing – fuel for our bodies, our lives and our imaginations.
Bateman’s work “Field to Table” is a large wooden dining table whose center is a planted field of produce grown by her collaborator, David Van Eeckhout, a local organic farmer. The table supports an abundance of green plants with the first crop rotation consisting of red sails lettuce, bright lights chard, winner kohlrabi (green) kolibri kohlrabi (red), red giant mustard, green wave mustard and renegade spinach. New crops such as tomato, peppers, beans, leeks and kale will be rotated into the piece throughout the 2010 growing season. Surrounding this “groaning” table are 10 antique, wooden chairs of diverse shapes, all painted off-white.
One might say this woman sure knows how to set a table! Bateman, who is also a landscape architect, explains this very engaging work: “What we’re trying to say with this is ‘support locally grown’ food. The field is coming right out of your table, it’s so close. Let’s get as few steps between us and our food as possible.”
The work is an imaginative celebration of the local foods movement and the joys of community. Bateman’s collaborator Van Eeckhout runs Hog’s Back Farm, an organic farm in Arkansaw, Wis., that sells produce directly to individuals through a Community Share Agriculture (CSA) program. The seeds, compost, everything used for the project’s “field” are organic. Another project collaborator is Graham Beech who completed the woodworking as his eighth-grade project at City of Lakes Waldorf School located in South Minneapolis. Bateman says, “Graham is interested in pursuing art in his high-school years and beyond. I enjoyed involving him in how this project was articulated along with its construction.”
The artwork is sited near the front entrance of the Arboretum’s Oswald Visitor Center and near the recently completed “Uff da Palace” stickworks sculpture by Patrick Dougherty. Visitors are immediately drawn to the Bateman piece, and many even pull up a chair, sit down, visit and relax at the expansive wooden table of greenery. “I’m so pleased that people are responding to it! It’s fun to see people sitting at the table and interacting with it. I’ve even seen a group having a meeting at it. The table with the field growing out of it is a simple concept, but people are enjoying it visually and I’m glad for that. Hopefully, the piece also supports the work of organic and local farmers and this message of local harvest,” she said.
The “Powerhouse Plants” exhibition, which opened June 5 and continues through Oct. 10, also features displays on new research into various forms of bio-energy (“Bio-Energized!”) as a means of fueling our vehicles and dwellings, as well as a variety of displays on “Incredible Edibles” celebrating nutrient-rich plants to power our bodies. The latter includes several small model garden plots (that can be replicated at home) and a Chef’s Row of vegetable plantings that are favorites of Twin Cities chefs along with recipes on how to use them (recipes available at the Arboretum website). Open 363 days a year, it is located 9 miles west of Interstate 494 on State Hwy. 5 in Chanhassen.