Print Friendly and PDF With Strings Attached: A world of beauty -- literature, art, and botany (with umbrellas!)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A world of beauty -- literature, art, and botany (with umbrellas!)

At the beginning of the month the editor of our weekly newspaper, the Zion-Benton News, asked if I would write a "My Perspective" column for the February 25 issue.   That deadline forced  encouraged us to visit three very different local attractions this week.

#1   Shakespeare
A copy of the First Folio is on display at the Lake County Discovery Museum, on loan from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.   The full title is “Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies.”  It was published in 1623, seven years after the Bard’s death, and includes 36 plays including 18 that had not been published. Without the First Folio we would not have Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, or As You Like It.  Only 750 copies of the First Folio were printed.  There are 233 known copies in the world today. The Folger owns 82 of them, and one of those is on tour in the U.S. – the copy that’s at our museum through February 28. 
Appearances can be deceiving:  the volume is about 9x14, bound in red leather.  It’s not as big as an unabridged dictionary or a family Bible.  But it is one of 750 vital building blocks in literary history.  And we got to see it!

#2  Art Quilts and Umbrellas  

“Deeply Rooted” is the theme for the art quilt exhibition in the sunny galleries of the Anderson Arts Center in Kenosha.  Fiber artists from Illinois,  Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin have explored the meaning of connection and being rooted in the Midwestern soil, in communities, in families.  

layered organza; hollyhocks on both layers

the lupine petals are neckties

 The group Women’s Journeys in Fiber also has an exhibit at the Anderson.  Their theme is “Umbrellas: Open to Ideas.”  Each of the 32 pieces features a real umbrella that has been embellished with embroidery, beading, paint, or other media.  Each artist wrote a statement about her interpretation of the theme.

 Both exhibits run through March 19.


#3  The Orchid Show
More than 10,000 brilliant orchids are on display now through March 13 at the Chicago Botanic Garden .  Orchids are found in the wild on every continent except Antarctica. They grow at high elevations and at sea level, in deserts and in tropical forests.  There are 17 species that are native to Illinois.  Orchids have been commercially grown since the 1850’s with more than 110,000 hybrids registered. They are the most popular houseplant in the U.S. 

The Orchid Show features hybrid orchids in three greenhouses, each with a different climate. There are orchids on the ground, in trees, and suspended from the ceiling.  It is impossible to take a bad photo!


  1. Interesting exhibits and an even more interesting challenge to offer your perspective. Will you give us links to your articles?

  2. gorgeous photos and oh those hollyhocks! enjoyable mini travelogue!

  3. Wow -- your blog today is a feast for the eyes and an education for the brain. Who would have guessed that orchids are so prolific? I loved the umbrellas and wish I was artistic enough to enhance an umbrella for myself. (Hum, I wonder if acrylic paint would maybe fabric paint....)

  4. I would enjoy reading your article as well. The Deeply Rooted show looks quite compelling. I couldn't find any information on the show on the Anderson Arts Center web site. Too bad. But very happy to see the quilts on your blog!


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