His online CV is a veritable laundry list of prominent institutions where he has exhibited, including MoMA, and significant journals in which he has been extensively reviewed, yet to meet Win Knowlton in person is a truly delightful experience without any hint of excessive artist ego getting in the way. Win has morphed his sculpting and drawing career into creating living sculptures in the form of unique gardens, some in Manhattan on private rooftops, as well as more traditional gardens on Long Island estates.
He escorted Michelle (my lovely and invaluable assistant whom I should have introduced in earlier blog posts because she is usually with me when roof surfing) and me to two of his West Village creations which were as unique from each other as day and night.
The smaller, yet more interesting, of the two projects is a compact green roof on a one-of-a-kind West Village townhouse owned by another prominent artist, Lawrence Weiner. This small rooftop is the most charming of all the green roofs I’ve seen thus far, probably because it has all the features of a green roof but is a garden to be enjoyed as well.
Stepping stones peek through the thyme covered ground. Near the roof’s center, is a round display with succulents and prickly pear cactus – who knew such things could survive a NYC winter? Two sides of the green roof have numerous flowering plants, including black-eyed Susans, and on the left is a simple wooden bench with a Win-created metal structure over it ready to host climbers as they grow in. Currently hops are planted, but Win isn’t thrilled with their spindliness and is thinking of changing the climbing plants come spring. He explains that his gardens undergo slow yet constant change as some plants thrive, some wither and some simply need to be replaced with better aesthetic choices. Thank you, Win, for taking us to your gorgeous hidden garden creations that even LOOKING UP would not have revealed.
Next time, we crunch on just-picked, roof-grown carrots and explore the latest in rooftop soil-based urban agriculture.