April 25, 2022

Last Friday my husband and I decked ourselves out in floral clothing and headed to Zilker Botanical Garden to attend The Surreal Garden, an interactive neon-art event. I have to say, it was even more fun than I’d imagined. Fantastical neon light sculptures filled the gardens (mainly the prehistoric garden, rose garden, and winding ramp to the visitor center), creating a Vegas-y glow amid the palms, cypresses, and ponds.

Dance music played throughout the garden, and costumed attendees roamed the grounds to enjoy the art, dance in neon-lit cages, relax on neon benches, or pedal an interactive neon octopus — yes, really. Many of the neon artworks, created by Austin’s Ion Art, are customized to the garden’s permanent features, like the red cowboy boots “worn” by the bronze dinosaur in the prehistoric garden (pictured above). They are all delightful to experience. If you love art and gardens and people-watching, you should go.

The Surreal Garden occurs after hours, from 6 to 10 pm. We arrived around 7 pm and had no problem finding free parking along Stratford Drive, although ride sharing is officially encouraged. Here’s David under a double snake arch at the entrance to the prehistoric garden.

A neon rendition of Diana the Huntress? By the way, all the artwork is for sale, with price lists at the garden’s entrance. Can you imagine finding a spot for something like this in your home or garden? In the right context, I think it could be pretty fabulous — and certainly a talking point.

Two-dimensional glowing Easter Island heads were some of David’s favorites.

This glam mirrored jellyfish woman wowed us.

She’s keeping one Picassoesque eye on her admirers.

The dinosaur is ready to go boot scootin’ in his neon red cowboy boots.

An orangutan perches atop the waterfall in the prehistoric garden — a popular spot for a selfie.

Later, after dark, the colors grow more pronounced.

A spouting whale with fishbone teardrop

An evolving anglerfish?

Another look at the cowboy dinosaur

A neon snake slithers down a tree.

A shade pavilion has been transformed by a neon sign and light tubes into The Jungle Lounge.

A glowing Mayan head amid cycads

Aliens are landing in the palms, as a fog machine adds mystique.

Greetings

A limestone cliff created a perfect opportunity for neon petroglyphs. Here’s one of several along the cliff wall.

Glowing tiki columns echo the straight trunk of a bald cypress, alongside another Easter Island head.

People-watching at an event like this is as fun as experiencing the art. This happy foursome was rocking a mix of surreal, botanical, and steampunk costumes.

On the Rose Garden lawn, we found the party in full swing, with glowing meteors dipping and swaying above, music pulsing through the air, and neon light washing everything with color.

An arm-waving octopus who has snagged the moon is powered by anyone willing to hop on a stationary bicycle. Others can then walk between the octopus’s moving arms to ham up being attacked.

We found a bar under a neon sign for the Aloha Room.

All around the garden are places to sit — or dangle — and people-watch.

Neon jellyfish hang from trees…

…creating an under-the-sea vibe.

Sharks fit right in.

As does a giant fishhook.

On the sea, there be pirates.

After circling the koi pond, we followed a directional sign to find the sea monster. The Real World was lit up, but we weren’t ready to leave yet.

A winking lion-baboon greeted us along the way.

Neon benches were popular with selfie-takers.

And for glamour shots of bottles of booze, apparently.

A wide view of the jellyfish area

A scorpion with a flickering tail on neon rocks

A pair of flamingos foraging in the ferns

How about a snailadillo? This is a creative alternative to the other Texas creature mashup, the jackalope.

Blue-eyed Susan flower

The glowing scene along the path

The Butler Window offers an overlook of the party lawn.

And hey, we found the sea monster! It’s a toothy anglerfish…

…and like Marlin and Dory we moved in for a closer look.

If you survive the teeth, you can walk through the monster’s body — a tunnel of angular lights.

Near the exit, a hammerhead lurks.

The younger set was cage-dancing to the music.

Heading up the hill we found pacing tigers…

…a prosaic housefly rendered beautiful in neon light…

…a tiki mask…

…and a prancing monkey with an umbrella.

In a pond by the visitor center, a serpentine whale’s tail stands tall.

The Surreal sign at the visitor center

In the gift shop I saw both of my books for sale. Thanks for carrying them, ZBG!

What a fun costume, with her glowing antlers and flower crown

Near the food trucks a jaguar lounges in a tree.

Here the prices for Ion Art’s artworks are displayed.

The bigger pieces are expensive, naturally, but the smaller ones aren’t crazy for original art.

Blue-Eyed Susan and Snailadillo are calling my name. Which would you choose?

A Salvador Dali costume, complete with pet ocelot Babou, is very much on-theme.

Botanical costumes are good too!

A long-legged elephant caught my eye, as did the costumed group beside it.

The woman in the magnificent headdress kindly posed for me.

Salvador the Elephant did too.

Check out the curled-paper owl mask this woman made.

And this couple. She’s wearing a floral, light-up hat. He’s a fly caught in a Venus flytrap!

At last it was time to return to the real world. We passed a yellow sub-sardine on the way out, with flickering tail and bubbling bubbles. Check it out, and a few other short videos of the event, in my Instagram stories today.

The Surreal Garden runs for three more nights, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 6 to 10 pm. Tickets are $50. Surreal or botanical-themed costumes are encouraged. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Digging Deeper

May 5th at 8 pm: Attend the final Garden Spark talk of the season! Jennifer Jewell, award-winning author and Cultivating Place podcast host, shows that gardens are powerful agents for change, addressing challenges like climate change, resource use, habitat loss, and more. Using beautiful images from her book Under Western Skies, she’ll share innovative gardens that celebrate western landscapes. Get your ticket at this link. Tickets must be purchased in advance; no walk-ins. Come learn something new and hang out with fellow garden lovers!

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark! Hungry to learn about garden design from the experts? I’m hosting a series of talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. The 6th season kicks off in fall 2022.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post Zilker Garden turns surreal after dark with fantastical neon art appeared first on Digging.

At the Surreal Garden event at Zilker Botanical Garden, fantastical neon art creates a Vegas-y glow amid the palms, cypresses, and ponds…. Read More
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April 25, 2022

Last Friday my husband and I decked ourselves out in floral clothing and headed to Zilker Botanical Garden to attend The Surreal Garden, an interactive neon-art event. I have to say, it was even more fun than I’d imagined. Fantastical neon light sculptures filled the gardens (mainly the prehistoric garden, rose garden, and winding ramp to the visitor center), creating a Vegas-y glow amid the palms, cypresses, and ponds.

Dance music played throughout the garden, and costumed attendees roamed the grounds to enjoy the art, dance in neon-lit cages, relax on neon benches, or pedal an interactive neon octopus — yes, really. Many of the neon artworks, created by Austin’s Ion Art, are customized to the garden’s permanent features, like the red cowboy boots “worn” by the bronze dinosaur in the prehistoric garden (pictured above). They are all delightful to experience. If you love art and gardens and people-watching, you should go.

The Surreal Garden occurs after hours, from 6 to 10 pm. We arrived around 7 pm and had no problem finding free parking along Stratford Drive, although ride sharing is officially encouraged. Here’s David under a double snake arch at the entrance to the prehistoric garden.

A neon rendition of Diana the Huntress? By the way, all the artwork is for sale, with price lists at the garden’s entrance. Can you imagine finding a spot for something like this in your home or garden? In the right context, I think it could be pretty fabulous — and certainly a talking point.

Two-dimensional glowing Easter Island heads were some of David’s favorites.

This glam mirrored jellyfish woman wowed us.

She’s keeping one Picassoesque eye on her admirers.

The dinosaur is ready to go boot scootin’ in his neon red cowboy boots.

An orangutan perches atop the waterfall in the prehistoric garden — a popular spot for a selfie.

Later, after dark, the colors grow more pronounced.

A spouting whale with fishbone teardrop

An evolving anglerfish?

Another look at the cowboy dinosaur

A neon snake slithers down a tree.

A shade pavilion has been transformed by a neon sign and light tubes into The Jungle Lounge.

A glowing Mayan head amid cycads

Aliens are landing in the palms, as a fog machine adds mystique.

Greetings

A limestone cliff created a perfect opportunity for neon petroglyphs. Here’s one of several along the cliff wall.

Glowing tiki columns echo the straight trunk of a bald cypress, alongside another Easter Island head.

People-watching at an event like this is as fun as experiencing the art. This happy foursome was rocking a mix of surreal, botanical, and steampunk costumes.

On the Rose Garden lawn, we found the party in full swing, with glowing meteors dipping and swaying above, music pulsing through the air, and neon light washing everything with color.

An arm-waving octopus who has snagged the moon is powered by anyone willing to hop on a stationary bicycle. Others can then walk between the octopus’s moving arms to ham up being attacked.

We found a bar under a neon sign for the Aloha Room.

All around the garden are places to sit — or dangle — and people-watch.

Neon jellyfish hang from trees…

…creating an under-the-sea vibe.

Sharks fit right in.

As does a giant fishhook.

On the sea, there be pirates.

After circling the koi pond, we followed a directional sign to find the sea monster. The Real World was lit up, but we weren’t ready to leave yet.

A winking lion-baboon greeted us along the way.

Neon benches were popular with selfie-takers.

And for glamour shots of bottles of booze, apparently.

A wide view of the jellyfish area

A scorpion with a flickering tail on neon rocks

A pair of flamingos foraging in the ferns

How about a snailadillo? This is a creative alternative to the other Texas creature mashup, the jackalope.

Blue-eyed Susan flower

The glowing scene along the path

The Butler Window offers an overlook of the party lawn.

And hey, we found the sea monster! It’s a toothy anglerfish…

…and like Marlin and Dory we moved in for a closer look.

If you survive the teeth, you can walk through the monster’s body — a tunnel of angular lights.

Near the exit, a hammerhead lurks.

The younger set was cage-dancing to the music.

Heading up the hill we found pacing tigers…

…a prosaic housefly rendered beautiful in neon light…

…a tiki mask…

…and a prancing monkey with an umbrella.

In a pond by the visitor center, a serpentine whale’s tail stands tall.

The Surreal sign at the visitor center

In the gift shop I saw both of my books for sale. Thanks for carrying them, ZBG!

What a fun costume, with her glowing antlers and flower crown

Near the food trucks a jaguar lounges in a tree.

Here the prices for Ion Art’s artworks are displayed.

The bigger pieces are expensive, naturally, but the smaller ones aren’t crazy for original art.

Blue-Eyed Susan and Snailadillo are calling my name. Which would you choose?

A Salvador Dali costume, complete with pet ocelot Babou, is very much on-theme.

Botanical costumes are good too!

A long-legged elephant caught my eye, as did the costumed group beside it.

The woman in the magnificent headdress kindly posed for me.

Salvador the Elephant did too.

Check out the curled-paper owl mask this woman made.

And this couple. She’s wearing a floral, light-up hat. He’s a fly caught in a Venus flytrap!

At last it was time to return to the real world. We passed a yellow sub-sardine on the way out, with flickering tail and bubbling bubbles. Check it out, and a few other short videos of the event, in my Instagram stories today.

The Surreal Garden runs for three more nights, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 6 to 10 pm. Tickets are $50. Surreal or botanical-themed costumes are encouraged. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Digging Deeper

May 5th at 8 pm: Attend the final Garden Spark talk of the season! Jennifer Jewell, award-winning author and Cultivating Place podcast host, shows that gardens are powerful agents for change, addressing challenges like climate change, resource use, habitat loss, and more. Using beautiful images from her book Under Western Skies, she’ll share innovative gardens that celebrate western landscapes. Get your ticket at this link. Tickets must be purchased in advance; no walk-ins. Come learn something new and hang out with fellow garden lovers!

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark! Hungry to learn about garden design from the experts? I’m hosting a series of talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. The 6th season kicks off in fall 2022.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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