HIGH ART: Green art fills Cantu’s pots

By on July 2, 2013
A sampling of Hilary Cantu’s creations. (Matt Leone)

A sampling of Hilary Cantu’s creations.
(Matt Leone)

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Now is hardly the time to laze around the still walls of galleries or theatres. The mere thought of rubbing elbows with harried mobs, even to take in the highest of art, drives me to a patio somewhere with a stiff margarita on tap. I want lush, I want cool. I want shade and quiet. The stark truth of Teton Valley is that our season of green is short and ephemeral. If you blink once you will go straight from mud to more mud. But today, I don’t think of that. Today I take in the riot of petals and verdant glory that has taken over our town like a tidal wave.

“Oooooohhhhh!” Squeals of joy emit from local plant artist Hilary Cantu as she points at the miniature terrarium that hangs from the chain she just put around my neck. In one of Jackson’s shady alleyways, I am exploring Hilary’s green little world. A discarded tire rim holds no less than 12 different varieties of plant life. Leggy alien-like flowers pop out of purple foliage, great-grandmother’s soup pot now holds dirt and plant life in place of carrots and beef. Next to the old rim and the pot is an archaic school desk, lid popped open and packed with flowers, herbs and strawberries. Cantu uses everything from minimalistic glass bowls to found detritus as her canvas. These vessels remind me of how wildlife reclaims everything, even our castoffs, with time. From the tiniest of creations to pots far too heavy to hold, Mother Nature’s range is given its proper due.

A Northwest native, Hilary grew up amidst the lush forests and salty air of the Pacific Ocean. In this environment, if you stand still long enough, moss collects behind your ears. She brings this sense of fecundity to her arrangements. Every shade of green crowds the pots, leaving just enough room for prehistoric-looking succulents with shots of color throughout. Our local flora is set beside more foreign types, hearty grasses bed with chartreuse ornamentals.

For those of us that kill every plant we acquire, apparently you can hang tiny versions of her planters around your neck. Cantu builds little worlds of golden sand, air plants, feathers, and other oddities, and is more than happy to create custom orders. She hangs these terrariums on delicate chains so you can bring a garden with you. They are like little talismans against all that hot, hot, heat of summer.

You will find Cantu at the People’s Market on Wednesdays at Snow King slinging the kind of greens that ward off winter’s cold and capture spring’s enthusiasm. Her prices range from $20 to $100. Visit anewleafgardendesign.com for more.


About Josi Stephens

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