Niki In Atlanta

Above: Nana on a Dolphin, 1998, and Guardian Lion, 2000; two of the works by Niki de Saint Phalle on display.

To walk through the Atlanta Botanical Garden this spring is to enter a dreamscape peopled with oversize animals, eerie totems and zaftig dancing women.Welcome to the fanciful world of noted French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, whom ABG director Mary Pat Matheson calls "one of the most significant female artists of the 20th century." "Niki in the Garden" is one of the most extensive exhibitions of Saint Phalle's sculptures, including 36 large pieces—some as long as 25 feet—as well as smaller works, their polymer forms covered with glittering mosaics of tile,glass and semiprecious stones. Coming from as far away as France, Germany and California, some of the figures are so large they had to be moved in sections.A few sculptures can even be entered and the mosaics continue on the interior walls.

Saint Phalle was unconventional as an artist and a woman—fashion model, set and costume designer, self-taught artist and the only female member of the Nouveau Realisme movement, which included Christo, Gérard Deschamps,Yves Klein and her husband,Jean Tinguely. She was famous in the 1960s for her "shooting paintings," created by firing a gun at containers of paint, but eventually sculpture became her primary medium. Influenced by artists like Antonio Gaudi and

Salvador Dali,she created monumental, surreal figures, both startling and joyful. Her work can be seen in public spaces worldwide, including the Tarot Garden in Tuscany, the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris and Queen Califia's Magical Circle in Escondido, California. —ja

"Niki in the Garden" will be on display through October. Every Thursday evening the garden will be open to the public and the sculptures lit for "Niki Nights."



When Kristin and Charlie Allen saw the dilapidated gas station in the idyllic Westchester County town of Pound Ridge, NewYork,they realized that its industrial look and soaring ceilings were a perfect match for their garden antiques shop,Avant Garden.

"We wanted to invigorate the vocabulary of garden antiques," says Kristin, who, with Charlie, opened Avant Garden in 2003.They are part of the new generation of antiques dealers drawn to the clean, spare lines of midcentury modernism, and their passion is evident in the shop filled with industrial containers, zinc-topped tables, sculpture and amoebic-shaped planters.

When they aren't minding the shop or showing at top design and garden shows in the New York area, Charlie, who is English by birth, is often on buying trips to England, France, Belgium and Italy."There is really a big difference between American and European industrial.A European étagère, for example, has extraordinary detail— even its rivet pieces are interesting," says Kristin.

Because the warm-weather season is so short in the Northeast,Avant Garden is also a perfect stage set for innovative pieces that bring the outdoors in, from faux bois, industrial street lanterns to stone-topped game tables and anthropomorphic lamps."One of our most satisfying recent sales was a complete set of Woodard's classic wire-mesh Sculptura line from the 1950s," says Kristin.—donna dorian

■ For more information call 914-764-0010 or see

Stones Metal Mesh Gardening

But man does not create.. .he discovers—a ntonio gaudi



Banchet Jaigla Flowers


ofcjBPr r the cutting edge


Banchet Jaigla started making floral designs 19 years ago, working out of her barn in Bedford, NewYork.Today she has an international reputation, having won awards across the globe for a unique visual vocabulary underscored by the variety and quantity of flowers she regularly garners from growers in Asia, Africa and South America.

Her latest project is Flower Bar, to open early this summer in her enlarged flower shop in Manhattan's edgy meatpacking district, where wine, champagne and ready-to-go floral arrangements will be offered.While bars are generally lined with liquor bottles, Banchet's effusive orchid arrangements will be on display instead. Flowers and cocktails are an irresistable combination—and it happened at Flower Bar first.—dd

■ Banchet Flowers: 809Washington St., NewYork, NY; 212-989-1088;


  • 30 pink parrot tulips
  • 6 long green carrot tops
  • 24 red-tinted fava beans
  • one small bunch of red-leaf lettuce
  • raffia wire
  • 1 round glass bowl about 8 inches in diameter, the length of the fava beans

Celebrate spring this year by giving vegetables a place of honor in your bouquets. Here are instructions on how one floral designer, Banchet jaigla, approaches the season.

To wrap the bowl in fava beans, stretch an elastic band around the bowl and slip the beans under it. Conceal the band by tying over it tightly with raffia wire. Bunch the tulips together in groups of five, using raffia to tie each group to-gether.Pour enough water into the bowl to reach the bottom of the tulip stems, then add the tulips to the bowl. Cut the green tops off just-picked carrots and place one top between each group of tulips. Bunch up the lettuce and place it at the top of the arrangement.

MAY 2006

The fountain is my speech. The tulips are my speech. The grass and trees are my speech—

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