One of the best ways to escape the winter doldrums is to feast your eyes on Jan Kirsh’s delightful fruits and vegetable sculptures. When I turned onto her studio driveway recently, two sentinels greeted me. One was a tall curvaceous eggplant resplendent in her aubergine gown.
Her admiring companion on the opposite pedestal reminded me at first of one of Henry Moore’s reclining nudes glistening in the sun. The green stalk gave it away as a sunburned chili pepper, without its white blanket of winter snow that was the cover image for Jan’s winter newsletter.
Further delights awaited me as I strolled through her garden. Maybe I’ve seem way too many Masterpiece Theater ballroom scenes but as I passed a trio of asparagus they seemed to bow to each other as a prelude to a minuet. Another trio of robust habaneros in different colors and on ascending pedestals spiraled upward to the sky.
Architects have a natural affinity with sculpture since both art forms deal with three dimensional space and light. After my tour of Jan’s garden of earthly delights, I loved visiting her studio and seeing her study models, mock-ups and projects in various stages of completion.
Jan’s interest in making garden sculpture “stemmed” from a childhood interest in hand building three-dimensional objects from clay and she never outgrew her childhood fascination with three-dimensional form.
During my studio visit, Jan also showed me her portfolio of commissioned pieces in their new settings. My favorite photograph was of Jan standing next to two intertwined giant carrots. Another amusing picture that caught my eye was of a giant pear preening over her image reflected in the swimming pool below.
Jan moved to the Eastern Shore in 1978 and quickly made a name for herself as a talented landscape designer. As her garden design practice flourished and evolved, she found that her clients often requested that she help them site existing sculpture and/or art objects in their gardens as part of her landscape design effort.
That facet of her work was fun and challenging and inspired her to begin anew to create her own pieces that could be incorporated into the gardens she designed. The best of both worlds for Jan is to design and then build a garden that includes a custom piece of her sculpture especially suited for the location.
After I reluctantly took one last look at Jan’s garden, I reflected upon my belief that one must have a touch of whimsy in one’s life to make you smile and laugh each day. One of these days I hope to commission Jan to sculpt my favorite vegetable, the artichoke, to enliven my garden.
Known for functional, artful four-season gardens, Jan Kirsh has worked collaboratively with clients for over 30 years to bring her unique hardscape and planting style to homes on the Eastern Shore and beyond. Ever conscious of the existing architecture and surrounding site, Kirsh’s successful garden making experience allows for dramatic results, whether she is providing a quick on site consultation, staging a home for sale or drawing a master plan. She delights in turning her clients dreams into reality.
A portfolio of her landscape work can be seen at her website www.jankirshstudio.com or contact her at 410-745-5252 (o),410-310-1198 (c) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.