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Finding Art + Photography in the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

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I had heard of the Beautiful Gardens and Art scene in Sarasota and was excited to visit the area. Of course the first thing on the agenda was an art fair in downtown. And while that was great, I was most looking forward to visiting the Botanical Gardens. Lucky for me I happened to stop in on the first day of the Marie Selby Gardens Dali Gardens of the Mind Exhibit. Talk about finding Art + Gardens!

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Garden Oasis

Walking into the gardens from the admission lobby was instantly awe inspiring. A lush floral greenhouse full of spiraling art and tidbits reminiscent of Dali surrounded me. A piano hung from the ceiling and eyes seemed to float from vine covered window panes. Every shade of green could be found in the dense foliage. 

dali eyes marie selby botanical garden
Eyes of Dali

” You’re lucky you arrived so early. Once the church crowd arrives it will be a mad house in here!” I heard one of the garden attendants tell a fellow admirer. I listened to her reveal the many hidden treasures of Dali to be found in the exhibit and slowly took in the abundance of beauty they had planned out. 

A few of Dali’s great obsessions were to be found throughout the Gardens of the Mind exhibit and I took a mental note of her words. 

I could already make out a few of the pieces she had spoke of as I started through the green house. 

  • Eyes
  • Eggs
  • Pianos
  • The Famed Moustache
  • Flowers 
  • Butterflys
  • Lip Couch’s

and more were all to be found in and around the gardens.

piano dali garden of the mind photography
Piano Hanging From Ceiling
marie selby botanical garden photography

Favorite Flower Finds

There was such a large variety of flowers through the Greenhouses and Gardens I found a new unseen favorite every time I walked through. Tucked away in a small unnoticed corner of the greenhouse there is even a treasured rare Orchid case, some a few decades old! 

Cactus and Shadows

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Spilling Shadows – Limited Edition of 12
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Sharp Shadows on Velvet Cream

Of all the plant life I found in the Marie Selby Gardens my favorite were the cactus. The hard lines and shadows and milky pastel colors drew me in instantly. 

cactus fine art photography botanical garden

Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.

Junichiro Tanizaki
shadows and lines fine art photography
floral fine art photography bnw plant
Midnight Aloe – Limited Edition of 12

After a wonderful time being distracted by plants and flowers I again began to notice the artistic oddities that were mixed in with the mostly unnoticed floral small scenes around me.

A tall white haired man somewhat reminiscent of Dali himself, stood posing exuberantly behind a large floral made moustache for 3 giggling women; all charming in their Sunday best. 

Along side their feet were eggs were sprouting succulents and cacti, while from above flower filled boats lay along the ground sweeping branches of banyan trees.

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marie selby botanical garden dali exhibit
Aloe and Burro’s Tails in Egg at Dali Exhibition Gardens of the Mind

I followed the path of spiral rock gardens, got visually lost among more cacti and ocean views, and eventually found myself at the dalified entrance to the old Payne Mansion that was now sporting a moustache of its own.

The first room was a quaint and open room with nothing but enchanting black and white landscapes adorning the walls. An art exhibit showcasing the black and white landscape photographs of Clyde Butcher found in Dalis birthplace of Figueres, Spain. 

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marie selby botanical garden dali gardens of the mind exhibit photography
Salvador Dali Exhibition Gardens of the Mind at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens shot on iPhone 11
marie selby botanical garden photography
Flower Garden at Marie Selby Botanical Garden shot on iPhone 11

The back room doors were blocked with a red velvet rope and the woman outside let in a short line of art enthusiasts one group at a time. In the room were the surreal floral works of Salvador Dali himself, the lithographic series FlordalĂ­ on loan from St. Petersburg Dali Museum.

While the artwork inside was inspiring, the outside of the old Florida mansion was just as striking. The Payne House was full of old world charm, yet the clean lines of new rails and garden touches kept the architecture of the building striking indeed. 

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payne mansion black and white photography
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line photography marie selby botanical garden

After walking the Marie Selby Garden for the fifth time, I finally came to a tiny little butterfly house that had been hiding in the palms. Though it was packed with other observers, the butterflies didn’t mind. They fluttered about happily, landing on feet, hats and even noses.

I kept low and still and was rewarded with a few visitors who posed for me quite prettily.

butterfly macro fine art botanical garden photography
butterfly at the botanical garden photography
butterfly fine art photography

It had been a long and lovely day exploring the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. I always find gardens to be rejuvenating and take the time to enjoy them as much as possible. 

Into the gardens I go, to lose my mind and feed my soul.

Leela Moon
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A Verdant Kind of Love – Limited Edition Print

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