To infinity, on the dot

Polka dots. Pumpkins. Pumpkins with polka dots. One thing’s certain: “Kusama: Cosmic Nature,” at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx May 9 through Nov. 1, is going to be some kind of crazy, with Polka Dot Picnics and Pumpkin Power Weekends as the garden explores an artist who seeks to connect the artistic and the natural, the personal and the universal.

Yayoi Kusama’s dotted works and infinity rooms caused such a sensation in 2017 when they were featured at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. that some 160,000 art lovers waited on long lines just to spend a half-minute in each of six “Infinity Mirror” installations. The “PBS NewsHour’s” cultural correspondent Jeffrey Brown was among those who covered the phenomenon. (Expect more of the same when the Hirshhorn offers an exhibit of her work this spring.)

In making the announcement of the New York show at a Japanese-flavored, vegetarian luncheon at the Grand Hyatt New York in Manhattan Jan. 15, NYBG CEO and President Carrie Rebora Barratt said that there will be two different types of tickets – one of which will include timed access to the “Infinity Mirrored Room – Illusion Inside the Heart,” an immersive outdoor installation, to insure everyone has his moment with eternity. Tickets go on sale Feb. 26 for a show that will see NYBG meld a changing landscape of flora and garden patterns to the works on paper, paintings, assemblages and sculptures of an artist who has been fascinated by polka dots, plants, especially her beloved pumpkins, mirrored surfaces and the idea of the infinite cosmos since she was a child. (She is now 90, still sports the same Louise Brooks bob she had then, although it is now pumpkin colored, and still works in her native Japan.)

Luncheon speaker after speaker talked about what the garden means to them, with Dennis White, president and CEO of sponsor MetLife Foundation, noting he and his family always enjoyed “The Holiday Train Show” (on view through Jan. 26) and “The Orchid Show” (opening Feb. 15 and featuring the floral creations of Jeff Leatham, the artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris and floral designer to the stars).

But with spring in the air in more ways than one, NYBG officials could be forgiven for champing at the bit for “Kusama,” which looks to be a happening to equal Upright Citizens Theater Brigade’s “No Pants Subway Ride” – although Barratt added teasingly, “I promise everyone will be keeping his pants on.”

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