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Hyde Park Art Center Offers Tomato Plants in Exchange for a Poem

By Sam Cholke | May 31, 2014 9:13am | Updated on June 1, 2014 6:12pm
 The Hyde Park Art Center is offering tomato plants in exchange for a poem.
Poems for Plants at Hyde Park Art Center
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HYDE PARK —  The Hyde Park Art Center is offering free tomato plants in exchange for a few stanzas of verse.

While supplies last, the art center at 5020 S. Cornell Ave. is giving away free tomato plants in exchange for a poem as part of artist John Preus’ “The Beast” exhibition.

“If you ask what does a pole eat for lunch, say nothing,” says a poem roughly signed Oren at the top of a stack of notes and poems between the rows of tomatoes.

The plants-for-poems exchange is part of General Economy, Exquisite Exchange, a project by artists from the Cream Co. collaboration that are frequent collaborators with the art center.

“This installation of GEEE connects to some of the ideas of the current exhibition ‘The Beast’ by John Preus in that both activate our civic values by encouraging conversations about the current state of society — in hopes that not only do we get the complaints out of our system, but we become ready to think about solutions,” said Allison Peters Quinn, director of exhibitions at the art center.

The artists behind GEEE is also hosting a plant giveaway at the Dorchester Projects, 6901 S. Dorchester Ave., as part of a artist residency program.

The giveaway will continue as long as there are plants to offer. Local gardeners tipped off to the event were at the art center early on Thursday to get a green sausage, an oblong yellow tomato with pale stripes, or a black cherry, a deep purple cherry tomato.

“I’m going to take one of each,” said Mary Shivers, who has a garden at 3929 S. Indiana Ave.

She was thrilled to have the plants available for free to bulk up the garden that she said has become a favorite among neighbors who like seeing the empty lot cleaned up. She said neighborhood kids are enthralled seeing the new varieties of vegetables growing on their block.

“Half of the kids don’t even know what a cherry tomato is,” Shivers said.

The General Economy, Exquisite Exchange event is part of a series of events around “The Beast” exhibition, which runs through Aug. 3.

Events continue next week alongside the plant giveaway, including a 10 a.m. yoga and meditation session with Brook Rosini on Monday and a potluck at 6 p.m. on Thursday with Kate Lorenz, the executive director of the art center.

Plants are available while the art center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and later during nights where there are evening events.