ArtisSpectrum Vol.38, November 2018

48 ARTisSpectrum | Volume 38 | M ICHAEL VICTOR RUGGIERO (MVR) received a master’s in landscape architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA in 1991. He also received certificates in illustration / Architecture Rendering from Parsons / New School of Design in 1995 / 97 as well as figure drawing and portrait painting from the Art Students League in New York City in 2003 / 05. Michael’s passion for landscape architecture and garden design blossomed from 1993–97 when he was the Master Head Gardener at the Bakwin Estate in Ossining, New York. This is where our story begins. On a warm Sunday in July a group of us ventured out of the overcast city skies, by train, to the Bakwin Gardens, in Ossining, NY for an old- fashioned garden party. The invitation and private tour by Michael, our gracious host, included a visit to the Tudor style main house with its 13 bedrooms, a large main hall, a greenhouse, and a guesthouse nestled in the woods. The grounds included many enchanting elements. My favorite was the massive yellow ‘ducky’ floating lazily on the man-made pond with its own boathouse. Behind the boathouse was a magnificent bronze sculpture of a female nude by Michael Stolzer. This lifelike sculpture, bracing against the fieldstone corner exterior of the boathouse, was perhaps lamenting the loss of a lover. Other pieces on the grounds included several stately bronze pieces by the formidable sculpture artist, Antoniucci Volti. Winding our way through the grounds we saw mounds of moss covered earth, Zen garden rock formations, towering and low hanging trees, lush leafy plants of every hue, and flowers in vibrant and muted colors that graced every meandering pathway. Each nook and cranny of the grounds offered up a visceral surprise that filled our senses with unbound pleasurable excesses of discovery. The scent of moss, pine and mountain laurel permeated the air while the chatter of birds and critters rustling in the leaves mingled with our footsteps. Not to be missed was the functional organic vegetable garden and a small orchard of peach, plum and apple trees laden with ripening fruit. The energy was intoxicatingly palpable on a perfect Sunday in July. The photos gracing these pages, my memory of the day, Michael’s brilliant work as a landscape architect and garden designer, and his journey to further develop talent within himself is the inspiration behind this piece. From left: Michael Victor Ruggiero, Terry Furst, Angela Di Bello, Eleni Cocordas, Carolina Santiago