Design Details Behind Victory Today

In preparation for the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, going down March 9 through March 17 at Navy Pier, we checked in with Mark Kanazawa and Patrick Ewing, two of our volunteer design masterminds behind our Victory Today exhibit. Thanks to their hard work, we have a beautiful display ready for you, celebrating today’s victories in gardening. Let’s see what they have to say about the exhibit:

1). Tell us about the design for the Peterson Garden Project display at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.
Kanazawa and Ewing: The exhibit is divided into three sections: 1). History/Art of Victory Gardens past, 2). A recreation of a PGP community garden featuring Today’s Victories, and 3). The Backyard “Re-use” Garden, which showcases creative ideas you can use in your own backyard and a mini gallery of contemporary artwork by Joe Wirtheim, whose illustrations are inspired by Victory Gardens past, present, and future.

2). What inspired your design?
Kanazawa and Ewing: Our jumping off point was definitely Victory Garden propaganda from WWII.  There are so many cool, inspiring images from back then, and what’s surprising is that they are as relevant today as they were back in the day.  One re-occuring image is the concept of “V for Victory.” We definitely wanted to incorporate that iconic symbol into our design.

3). Why do you think the PGP display will stand out at the show? 
Kanazawa and Ewing: The Chicago Flower and Garden Show has always featured beautiful, large scale ornamental gardens; gorgeous, but in many cases unattainable to the average urban gardener.  Peterson Garden Project is all about edible gardening in the city, whether that is with your neighborhood community garden or in your own backyard.  Our exhibit hopes to inspire both novice and experienced gardeners alike to grow their own food, and to show how easy, fun, and delicious it can be.  Plus we venture to say that this is the first time a giant, V-shaped raised bed 3-D collage gallery has ever been on exhibit at the show…

4). What are your favorite elements of your design?
Kanazawa and Ewing: There are a lot of things in this exhibit that we really love, but the one standout for us is the awesome mural designed and painted by the students in the Senn Arts program at Nicholas Senn High School, which just happens to be located in our very own neighborhood of Edgewater, also home to the PGP community garden, Vedgewater.  Being the creative types that we both are, we love that this program is focused on “cultivating artistic members of the global community.”  How cool is that?

5). What was the design process like?
Kanazawa and Ewing: It was truly a collaborative process. LaManda came to us about the opportunity to exhibit at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, and told us about her idea to divide the exhibit into three sections: History of Victory Gardens, Peterson Garden Project today, and the urban backyard garden, and let us run with it.  When we learned the theme of the show this year was The Art of Gardening, that really inspired us and the ideas starting falling into place.  As an example, this past December we took a trip to Buenos Aires.  They have a prolific and thriving street art community there, and we went on an amazing three hour graffiti/street art walking tour in the heart of the city.  We learned that many of these works of art are a collaborative process. One artist starts painting a wall, and others contribute over time.  Often an owner will approach an artist and ask him or her to paint their building.  We are always looking for ways to incorporate art and community into the PGP gardens, and this idea really hit home.  Back in Chicago, Patrick remembered a good friend of ours is the coordinator for the Senn Arts magnet program. A quick call put into motion the first of many collaborations that would shape this exhibit.

And on that note, a special thank you goes out to all the volunteers without whom this exhibit would still be just a bunch of conceptual ideas floating around in our brains. And extra special thank you’s go to Craig Curry and Anne Rozmin, PGP volunteer carpenter extraordinares, Julie Wiesnewski for her graphics expertise, Anna Kong for her crafty skills (and the to-die-for Vietnamese pastries), Lindsay Shepherd for her volunteer coordinating finesse, and Chris Braun, our production manager, who we hope believes us when we tell him (about 10 times a day), we couldn’ta done it without you!