A public garden & cultural center

James Walsh

Prickly, Tender and Steamy: Artists in the Hothouse 
Glyndor Gallery | April 8–May 18, 2014

Pictured Above: Alpine Plants, 2014, pigment marker, wall installation, wall area: 87” x 118.” Courtesy of the artist. 

For his on-site wall drawing at Wave Hill, Walsh has focused on two of the alpine plants that he associates with scientific figures. Linnaea borealis, or Twinflower, was Carl Linnaeus’s favorite plant and was named after him. Drosera rotundifolia, or Sundew, is a delicate carnivorous plant that grows in sphagnum bogs and gets much of its nutrition from capturing and digesting insects. It was one of Charles Darwin’s favorite plants, and he spent a long time observing and writing about it.

I've always had an affinity for sparse northern landscapes, which has led to my current project on the arctic plants of New York City, and many of the arctic plants are also alpine plants. When I started pressing plants a few years ago, I found that I really liked very small ones that I could press without bending or trimming, and all the alpine plants are quite small and low growing, tending to spread rather that grow upward. They are also romantic and heroic growing up there on those mountaintops.


My studio at Wave Hill, in that beautiful room overlooking the Hudson and the Palisades, gave me time and space to get more deeply into my project, which combines botanical and literary research with plant collecting and pressing. It was a pleasure to be able combine these varied materials and try things out on the elegant walls of that space.

—James Walsh

James Walsh has been making art in a variety of media since 1986 and has shown throughout the United States, and in Turkey, Italy, England and Sweden. He is the author of two books, Foundations (1997) and Solvitur Ambulando (2003), and numerous unique and limited-edition artist’s books. Awards and residencies include a Fulbright Fellowship to Turkey and residencies at The MacDowell Colony, The Edward Albee Foundation, Art Omi, and Center for Book Arts. His work comes out of a love for natural history, particularly the history of natural history. For the past several years, he has been learning botany by identifying, pressing and mounting plants found in his neighborhood, which has resulted in two ongoing projects: A Flora of the Gowanus and the Index to Arctic Plants of New York City. Walsh studied literature at Hobart College, Geneva, NY, and at Oxford University, England.

Winter Workspace 2011
Glyndor Gallery | January 4 – March 27, 201

Cover of the artist’s book Index to Arctic Plants of New York City, 2010

Cover of the artist’s book Index to Arctic Plants of New York City, 2010

Medicago lupulina or Black Medick, an arctic/NYC plant found growing wild in Brooklyn

Medicago lupulina or Black Medick, an arctic/NYC plant found growing wild in Brooklyn

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.