By Molly McCrea
So like any small town raised, Canadian girl, when I hear “Grow Op” I automatically think, “Who got busted this time? How much did they have on them man? Seriously? She was there?! Ohhhh noo.” But now I will have to change my stereotype and focus on the lush blend of landscape, urbanism and the trumpeting of the Gladstone’s ethos grown from Jane Jacobs idea that “new ideas must use old buildings.” that will be brought to life at this years annual Grow Op.
Grow Op celebrates this ideal in many ways. Its many artists are bringing their passions and ideals to the fabled brick walls to think about how we blend our exciting, loud, vibrant cities with the culture of landscape. For me this is blissful. I grew up running wild through fields, forests, constantly immersed in the wonder of nature. That freedom allowed me to be imaginative and capable. It allowed me to understand that the earth is dang magical thing. I then grew up to be drawn to the pulse and energy of the city. I love the anonymity of it, a different kind of freedom for imagination. But I will always miss the pulse of the earth around me everyday. So to think about how we can blend the two together speaks in perfect harmony to me.
The seventeen Jury selected projects as curated by Victoria Taylor, Graham Teeple and managed by Britt Welter-Nolan are thoughtful and relevant to what is happening to our environment daily. Take “Got Milkweed” by Jode Roberts and Amy Rogers. This project is already installed in the hotel lobby and has quickly proven to a huge hit with the Gladstone’s cast of characters. It brings an easy smile to ones face to be greeted by what seems like millions of monarchs settled peacefully on a large branch suspended from the ceiling and gently scattered on the walls surrounding. They seem to have mysteriously made there way into other parts of the hotel as well, I keep coming across them in places only staff would put them to brighten up our days. It evokes feelings of summer and warmth and at the same time causes us to pause and think about the reasons behind the population’s serious decline. What can we do to prevent this so we can continue to enjoy the feeling the monarch brings?
Mounds at Work will be getting a wee visit from this chick as well. Due to be installed in the second floor gallery, this project by Julie Bogdanowicz looks at the indeed strange phenomenon of the mounds of earth that you see next to houses in so much of rural Canada. The mounds of dirt housing the bane of my father’s existence, the septic tank. I have many memories of the silly thing having to be dug up, leaks inspected, carefully recovered. To me it was a thing of mystery, why was the grass so very lush and long only in this one area of our front lawn? Why in the heat of long Ontario summers long after the grass had become dry and brown underfoot did that one spot endlessly stay soft? Leaky tank of poo folks, tank of poo.
The subject of Bees has been on everyone’s mind (and by everyone I mean like people that give an iota of a damn about our planet). Are they dying off? Have we killed the lifeblood of flora and fauna with our poisoning of the soil with all the ‘cides? Will humans be able to carry on without the little buzzer? What will Beyonce do? (Quiet moment of respect for the QUEEN) I mean you know we will, it will be some crazy, auto-pollinator robot jibby jabber that will eventually take over the world and destroy human kind as we know it anyway. Hrmph. Well if the candidates for the U of T Masters Landscape Architecture program have anything to do with it, both our bees and their Queen B (bowdown) will be allowed to thrive. There are over three hundred pollinator bee species in Toronto and the population is declining at alarming rates. But these folks have a plan. They have created prototypes of nesting habitats designed to help our little bee buddies to nest in a variety of environments. This will be a project not to be missed and appreciated.
There will be so much to see, smell and immerse your senses in over the Grow Op weekend (April 22nd – April 26th). Kicking off on Weds with a presentation from Pleasure Domes called Future Ruins, followed on Thursday by an After School hosted talk, bringing together Farmers, architects, designers and urbanists. Friday will start with the opening reception on the second floor gallery (bartended by Gladstones finest… me, gettttcher beer here!). The party will then move downstairs to our grand old ballroom, which will come alive with Uma Nota and Samba Squad. Sunday wraps up the weekend with Grow Op Gets Dirtier, An Urban Agriculture Expo hosted by The Bowery Project. You can taste some organic goodness from Jamie Kennedy or get down with Gladstone’s brunch menu, which is always delumptious!! Hmm funny, spell check doesn’t think that is a word. The David Suzuki Foundation is also involved in quite a few of these projects so I’m just saying you might run into King David himself. OMG I might run into him. Do you think he will like my surrealist tattoo that is homage to the forests of Ontario? Do you? Okay so maybe King David won’t be there but you should take the time to come and see the old girl burst at the seams with pride once again, as she is filled with the passion and innovation each of the Grow Op 2015 projects will bring.