Community Garden as Gallery of Decay

Eleonor Botoman
12 min readMay 31, 2023

Author’s Note: I’m in a class on decay this semester and one of our assignments was to let something rot for about a month. I had a lot of fun documenting this experience and wanted to share it with all of you. Please enjoy my ramblings on ecology, and art conservation. If you want to see more photos, they all live here.

A Brief Introduction

I found the painting at Mother of Junk in Williamsburg, the kind of thrift store where you spend hours picking through the discarded objects of peoples’ past lives, hoping to find that one weirdly wonderful thing crammed between overflowing crates of miniatures, densely-packed shelves of dishware, and precarious stacks of furniture.

The painting was stuck between a washed-out watercolor landscape and a discouragingly dusty motivational quote poster. My criteria was simple: a piece small enough to fit on the garden bed without attracting attention and no glass frame cover so it could be fully exposed to the elements. This portrait of a young girl watching a bird from a blue park bench surrounded by birch trees checked all the boxes. I felt a pang of guilt at checkout when the cashier asked what I planned to do…