The “Gnome and Garden Exhibit” was a public art project held in 2011 at the Holden Arboretum in city of Kirkland, in Northeast Ohio.
The event was a shout out to regional artists to paint/decorate unfinished fiberglass molds of garden gnome sculptures that stood five feet tall in height and weigh about 40 pounds.
The arboretum received 98 proposals and approved 20 finalists. Each artist then received a fiberglass sculpture that was to be decorated with each of the winning artist’s designs. The finished sculptures were given a clear coat to protect them from the weather, courtesy of a local auto body shop, and placed in the Arboretum for public viewing. The artists received $600 for their submissions.
The 20 winning gnome statues included Johnny AppleGnome, a take on Johnny Appleseed; a gnome replica of Beatle John Lennon in his yellow Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band garb; Vincent Van Gnome (with both ears intact) painted with his iconic swirling designs; The Oompa Loompa gnome inspired by the 1971 film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate; and the Claude Monet Impressionist gnome with artist tools tucked in his pocket.
The intent of the exhibit was to promote public awareness of arboretum and help families and children of the region reconnect with nature. The multi-week event kicked off on June 19th and ran until September 25th.
A Gnome and Garden trail was created for visitors to follow and discover the 20 unique gnomes within the gardens and woodlands. Each station displayed “little gnome facts” – the name of each gnome, and its artist creator.
Gnome fans were able to vote for their favorite gnome, as well as meet some of the artists that made them. The event also featured a visit from Chuck Sambuchino, the author of “How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack.”
As part of the exhibit, Holden created a series of collectible cards, each picturing a different gnome and including a fun gnome fact. Cards were given away during the summer exhibit, and complete sets were on sale at Holden’s Treehouse Store.
The Gnomes are no longer at the Arboretum because they were auctioned off at a live-preview party. All proceeds from the auction benefited THA’s Growing Students with Science program.
NOTE: The Holden Arboretum is one of the largest arboretums and botanical gardens in the United States with more that 3600 acres of land. It was named after Albert Fairchild Holden, a prominent mining engineer and executive.
9500 Sperry Road
Kirtland, OH 44094