Castle Garden

Categories: Sturt Haaga Gallery

June 28 – September 19, 2021

Through contemporary artwork, videos and historic materials, Castle Garden will explore how, over the centuries, plants and gardens have played a vital role in communicating our identity and culture. The exhibition runs from June 28–September 19, 2021, and will also address the impact of non-native species on local ecosystems.

Castle Garden studies issues surrounding Southern California landscaping including origin stories of pervasive non-native plants, socio-political conditions surrounding gardening traditions, how drought and climate change route us back to native gardens, and how changes in climate will dictate our future landscape.

Castle Garden will explore the history of common characteristics of our home gardens. For example, palm trees – perhaps the defining emblem of the California lifestyle – but only the Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm) is native to California; and even these palms are naturally found nearly 200 miles away in the Colorado Desert. Planting non-native palms en masse occurred in the 1930s, in tandem with the sale of the fully branded California dream.

The exhibition features works by Shagha Ariannia, Beatriz Cortez, Samantha Morales Johnson, Amitis Motevalli, Fran Siegel and Jenny Yurshansky; and is curated by Debra Scacco. As part of Castle Garden, Jenny Yurshansky invites listeners to acquaint themselves with non-native plants commonly found in California with Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory (Audio Guide). In this web-based field guide, each plant is performed with an anthropomorphized narrative, offering reflections of a landscape that is equally cultural and botanical. You can experience the audio guide here.

Castle Garden is funded in part by Heather and Paul Haaga and the Pasadena Art Alliance.


The Sturt Haaga Gallery is open from 10am to 4pm daily. Free with admission.

Image credits:
Fran Siegel
Pigment, indigo, scrim, burlap, steel, string, porcelain
114 x 100 in
Jenny Yurshansky
Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory (Herbarium)
Steel herbarium cabinets, MDF, wood, hardboard, brass, assorted paper, 133 hand-cut silhouettes
70 x 59.5 x 22.5 in
Beatriz Cortez
Message from Manzanar (The Children’s Garden)
Steel, Dimensions Variable