Gardens add exhibition space

A display of black-and-white images of botanical subjects will comprise the opening show

September 14, 2011|By Daniel Siegal,
  • Descanso Gardens staff David Crocker and Jill Mamey install the first exhibit of the Sturt Haaga Gallery, "The Botanical Photographs of Andrea Baldeck." (Photo courtesy of Descanso Gardens)
Descanso Gardens staff David Crocker and Jill Mamey install…

After five years of planning, preparation and construction, Descanso Gardens is growing a new attraction. The Sturt Haaga Gallery will open to the public this Saturday at 2 p.m. with the exhibit, “The Botanical Photographs of Andrea Baldeck.”

The gallery, funded by a donation of $2.1 million by Paul Haaga Jr. and Heather Sturt Haaga, was created by restoring and adding on to the original garage adjacent to the gardens’ historic Boddy House. The gallery gives La Cañada Flintridge its first publically accessible exhibition space, according to Descanso Gardens Executive Director David Brown.

In addition to augmenting the gardens’ education and outreach programs and providing an additional attraction to draw visitors to the gardens, the gallery perfectly meshes with Descanso’s accreditation as a museum of living collections, Brown said.

“It gives us the opportunity to tell the stories of the garden, of the landscapes, of the plants, of the ecosystem and of the history of the gardens,” said Brown.


Sturt Haaga said she and her husband funded the gallery because they believe in the future of Descanso Gardens.

“Paul and I believe that Descanso Gardens is poised to go from good to great and by repurposing the garage at the Boddy House, it can become a wonderful resource for the community,” Sturt Haaga said.

Brown said Descanso plans to bring a diversity of relevant shows and exhibits to the gallery.

“Our programming for the gallery is going to be broadly inclusive of subjects in science, in particular botany and horticulture and biology,” said Brown. “And history as well as art. This is not an art gallery — it’s an exhibition gallery.”

As for the first exhibition, Brown said that in addition to the visually striking nature of Andrea Baldeck’s botanical photographs, it was their thematic match with the gardens that made her work a good fit.

“Andrea’s artwork makes plants the star of the work, and that’s we’re trying to do at Descanso all the time,” said Brown.

Baldeck, who has exhibited her work extensively on the East Coast, where she lives, was also a natural choice because she was recommended to Brown by Sturt Haaga, with whom she attended college.

Sturt Haaga said that beyond her personal connection with Baldeck, it was the work that made her the right fit.

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