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Saturday April 19, 2014
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Bloom! Blooms and more

 

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With the help of his Buddhist community, artist Traven Pelletier has bought the historic barn on Baker Road that was formerly Dexter Gardens (before that, Bella Gardens, and still farther back, Sloan Nursery). His new business, Bloom!, continues to be a garden center, he says, "with a focus on ecologically sound well-grown plants."

But it's also an art gallery. Pelletier is an environmental installation artist whose large projects straddle the line between sculpture and landscape architecture. A pair of his metal tree sculptures stand in Ann Arbor's West Park.

The first thing he did with his barn was tear out its drop ceiling to expose the building's stately bones: the network of timbers of the enormous gambrel roof is an art installation in its own right. Beneath the striking ceiling is his first exhibit: the powerfully spare, minimalist ceramic pieces of Francesc Burgos, along with Tad McKillop's small figure sculptures and Jeeheon Cho's flower photographs. They're not just there for calm, meditative atmospherics; all pieces are for sale, ranging from an impulse-purchase-level $65 to a major-commitment $7,000.

Pelletier, forty-one, came to the area in 2000 from the East Coast to join the Tsogyelgar Dharma Center. A full-time artist when he moved here, he got his builder's license and became a partner in Lotus Gardenscapes (he's left the partnership, but Lotus lives on). On the side, he's continued to do his "architectural-scale, site-specific art." Currently he has an exhibit in Cincinnati.

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