On the 10th anniversary of Art in the Garden at Lincoln’s Sunken Gardens on Saturday, Sept. 10, the event experienced something it had never seen before – rain. It started the night before, and by 1 p.m., the Lincoln Airport had recorded 0.8 inches of precipitation – more than the city had received in all of August.
The Lincoln Arts Council pitched in by providing 10 additional tents to help protect art created for the event by artists from the Noyes Art Gallery.
“I’ve been part of this event all 10 years,” said artist Janna Harsch. “Most years I don’t have a canopy, because I paint on metal and I want the shine to show through. But I’m not complaining at all about the weather, because I’m not broiling.”
Event co-founder and Noyes Art Gallery owner Julia Noyes said she never considered canceling Art in the Garden.
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“We’ve kept the gallery open throughout the pandemic, so why would we cancel this event because of a little rain?” she said at the event.
The showers stopped by 1 p.m., and event attendees enjoyed cool temperatures in the 60s and periodic sunshine throughout the remaining hours.
Art in the Garden was the brainchild of Noyes, who 11 years ago met with garden designers Steve Nosal and Alice Reed and suggested having an art show at the Sunken Gardens.
“They said ‘Let’s do it,’” Noyes recalled.
“It was time for Lincoln to move to the next level,” added Nosal. “Once we came up with the idea and talked about it, Julia met with Lynn Johnson, who was director of Lincoln Parks and Rec at the time, and proposed the idea to him and to the Lincoln Parks Foundation, and they went along with it.”
Each year, Nosal and Reed determine a floral theme for the event.
“Alice and I had been kicking around the idea of an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme for years, and we hadn’t been prepared to do it,” Nosal said. “Last year we did a Ruby Slipper theme from the Wizard of Oz, and so this year we said let’s do the ‘Wonderland’ theme.”
Reed said this year’s design reflects that theme with “mushrooms on the ledge, a smoking caterpillar, raised flower beds as Mad Hatter tea party tables, and a Mad Hatter’s hat with bananas coming out of it.
"We also have teacups at the entrances and jabberwockies at the corners,” she added.
Artists incorporated the “Wonderland” theme into many of their works. In addition to her paintings, artist Shannon Dumais created Alice-based felt hats with rabbit and foliage designs.
“I’ve sold a lot of my hats as impulse buys today,” Dumais said.
In addition to seeing multiple kinds of art, attendees heard live music performed by Mama Gina, Play B and Lyla Cho, Arnie Heithoff, LNK Music Collective, the Irish Sessions Group, Laurie McClain and Lois Rood.