Picture This: Wood Turning a Tree From Our Kogod Courtyard

The making of a turned vase from one of the museum's black olive trees by Phil Brown

If you've been able to recently stop by at American Art's Kogod Courtyard, you may have noticed a change in the landscape. Back in August, horticulturists from Smithsonian Gardens, along with members of our facilities crew removed two black olive trees and a ficus and replaced them with fresh black olives (which, oddly enough, do not actually produce olives at all).

To remove the old trees from the courtyard they had to be cut apart. Katie Crooks, public program coordinator for the museum, put horticulturist Joel Lemp in contact with local wood turner and collection artist Phil Brown to see if we could give the removed trees a new life. Several sections of the old trees were given to Phil, and he was able to transform them by literally turning them (on a lathe) into functional bowls. Three of the pieces were given back to the museum to use as education pieces, and the others were sold at a fundraiser during JRA Day, the charity event for the Renwick Gallery's support group the James Renwick Alliance where Phil is a member.

Stop on by to see the new trees. They are in the southwest quadrant of the Kogod Courtyard. And who knows, if you take part in a highlights tour, the docent might pull out one of Phil's bowls when discussing the landscape.