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An Echo Park garden that's a smashing success

Nichols_Kibler_Dragon

Nichols_Kibler_Garden Glass pyramids form the teeth, jar handles suggest flared nostrils, and the horns? Teapot spouts.

The ceramic folly is just the beginning in the Echo Park backyard of Larry Nichols and Rob Kibler.

What looks like a 7-foot mermaid swims along one wall. A fanciful fish spews water. As writer R. Daniel Foster tells us:

The 1994 Northridge earthquake dished out the idea for the projects as well as the material: pottery shards that Nichols and Kibler stored in boxes beside their home. Smashed works by such renowned artists as Beatrice Wood and Andrea Gill proved difficult to toss.

“I even went around the house and broke a few things that weren’t damaged,” Kibler says. “I thought, break it now and it will last longer on the garden wall.”

Read the story, click to the jump for a couple of additional photos or simply go straight to the extended photo gallery.

Nichols_Kibler_MosaicFace 
A mosaic face tucked into one of Nichols' and Kibler's benches.

Nichols_Kibler_Benches
Kibler, left, and Nichols by their dragon and, off in the distance, "Fifi." You can see more photos in our extended gallery.

-- Craig Nakano

Photo credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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This is the most wonderful garden story, which may be my dying favorite. It underscores the point that gardens are theaters. We expect too much from plants and interfere with them too often. Baring cursory tending, we need to leave the plants alone once we get them going. Even if the presiding notion that a succession of flowers should be forced into bloom 12 months a year for color didn't result in ersatz, wasteful and somehow kinky gardens, flowers can't provide the splendid dashes of colors and textures that these ceramics do. And you don't need to be a set designer. That holds even when the mosaics are amateur. R. Daniel Foster, thank you!

How marvelous to read about Nichols and Kibler whose charming gardens awed me more than a decade ago, while a fan of Kibler's ceramics and Nichols' art direction. Good to see that they're better than ever, and it would be divine to see the mosaics transformation (one of my favorite artistic forms) some day!
"Smashing succes", indeed! Great story and great pix, Mr. Foster!


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