ProjectsCincinnati Park Board – Butterflies of Japan 2010 at Krohn Conservatory

Butterflies of Japan at Krohn Conservatory (2010)

Jan co-designed this show with Stacie Martin, horticulture, and Jill Nicholson, graphic design, with a boost from a cultural and entemological visit to Japan organized by Tokiko Freeman. Set design was inspired by Japanese architecture, sakura and saki ceremonies, gardens in Kyoto and Tokyo, butterfly and insect culture in Osaka and Mino, Japanese paper kites and lanterns, Tori gates and colorful costumes. This show was built by the community in workshops located in Cincinnati Park’s Sinton Warehouse, beginning a trend of community-based exhibition fabrication. Recycling of show props in storage and use of materials and expanded use of graphic design for story telling accompanied new showcase furniture built by Tom Parker, designed for reuse over years.

  • Modification of the Electric Butterfly to a simple form (removing swallow tails) and addition of white shadecloth slip covers brought a soft form to the façade, following the bombast of China and India in previous years.

  • The night view of the butterfly when the light traced structure overrides the white slipcovers.

  • The Kamon for sakura/cherry blossom is the signature of the show, and the bamboo racks we observed during a trip to Japan found their way to Cincinnati and foyer décor. The sakura branches were created by attaching silk petals to natural dead branches.

  • Kamon of gingko leaves represents autumn, and this banner flys among parasols from Gifu, our sister city, and kimono loaned by Mai Kinman. Kitty Uetz created the shibori dyed velvet panel that stretched 2 stories along the façade windows.

  • Two new pergolas designed by Burgess and Niple were constructed by Parks staff and volunteer carpenters. The 6’ x 6’ photo posters began the show for the audience that queued under the pergola.

  • One of the photos taken during our exploratory trip to Japan during sakura time.

  • Stacie Martin’s horticultural design is complimented by Jan’s set design that features a Takayama portable shrine facsimile and kites.

  • The panels of the Takayama shrine structure are painted with patterns that recall the fine art of paint floating for print making called suminagashi.

  • Props in the butterfly enclosure are provided by Aquatic Garden and Décor. The Mt. Fuji “noren” curtain was brought back from our research trip to Japan.

  • A teahouse and tourou lantern are graced by seasonal scroll paintings by Frank Satogata and by ikebana floral arrangements.

  • The permanent citrus collection is paired with fragrant lilies and Japanese white pines trimmed in bonsai fashion, with perspectives pushed by photos of architecture and gardens taken during our research trip.

  • One of the precious jizo statues modelled and dressed by guest artist Katie Swartz.

  • Interactive prayer papers are filled by guests to the show and suspended from lines on the bridge to the Atrium, in the manner of Shinto shrines.

  • Jan’s aerial painting of Eden Park is modelled on an example she saw in Kyoto during a research trip. The maps are permanently attached to mini Tori gate panels in Eden Park that allow for Krohn exhibitions to be advertised on the reverse side.

  • Jill Nicholson, graphic designer on staff of the Park Board, joined the show design team and made a dramatic impact on the appearance of the didactic panels throughout the conservatory. This show poster and logo drove much of the design philosophy of the show.

  • Graphic design professionals lent their talents to the show as volunteers in the Desert Room display of bugs, kept as pets by Japanese and shown for the first time in the context of the Butterfly Show.

  • Aquariums are like small set designs with custom made eating and walking furniture created by Patrick Dougherty. The little Anime characters were designed and developed into the storytelling panels by Threshold Design.