Journal » The Prettiest Show Venue

Chicago Botanic Garden

The Prettiest Show Venue

I closed out the 2022 show season with the American Craft Expo (ACE), held at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Unfortunately, the committee announced that this would be the final ACE show, so I feel lucky to have squeezed in under the wire as a first-time participant.

Incidentally, Glencoe, IL, where the garden is located, is where I spent a summer waiting tables and living at a nearby country club during college. I had just finished my second year at Indiana University. My parents divorced (on the east coast) and my mother moved. I had nowhere to go for summer break until a friend told me about this job. It felt a bit surreal to be back there after…gulp…37 years.

Revisiting this old haunt, staying with a friend from high school, and connecting with artist friends in a beautiful setting was just what the doctor ordered. The night before flying to Chicago, in the middle of packing and finishing jewelry, I had to put my sweet cat to sleep. I was in a bit of a daze but the gardens restored some balance.

Water lily
Water lily


Chicago Botanic Garden
Landscaping with lettuce.


The Rookery by Patrick Dougherty


Lotus blossom


Lotus pod

One benefit of visiting the garden several days in a row was experiencing the daily changes to the lotus flowers and water lilies, an area of the garden on the way to the building where the show was held. I left myself extra time to photograph these wonders, like these giant lily pads that are apparently sturdy enough to sit on. I especially loved the mosiac flower, an aquatic plant that reminds me of cobble stone streets in Europe.

Giant lotus pad and mosaic flower

While not necessarily a beautiful photo, the image below is a tower of mums. I don’t know if it’s one plant or many. I can barely keep my own alive. This mum was about 10 feet tall and full of buds. If only I’d been there to see it in full bloom.

Mum tower

Walking through the visitor’s center, you’re greeted with hundreds of dried flowers hanging from the ceiling.

In just a few short days, the leaves on the trees were beginning to show their fall colors. Many of the artists were off to even more shows but for this artist, it felt like a sign to slow down. Well, not really. The to-do list never ends—order to fill, photos to edit, 2023 shows to apply to and much more. But it’s important that we all slow down a bit, especially if it means long enough to take in some beauty.

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