The Fussy Eye: Portable Planters

Greenery in a low-tech pod.

Remember how in Waterworld they used dirt for currency? Earth is an equally precious resource in the group show "Fertilizing Utopias" (through Feb. 27). Five Northwest artists address environmental themes in the diverse exhibit, based on a premise by Rimas K. Simaitis, whose low-tech assemblages are the most interesting of the lot. Using cheap and common materials—plywood, plastic sheeting, staples, and wire—he jury-rigs humble contraptions that might one day be employed for regreening the world. Shotgun shells are packed with birdseed (for planting or feeding). Rolling, portable planters are pushed with a lawnmower handle. And in the suspended garden Self-Contained Bionic Hydroponic Growing System, new greenery is slowly sprouting amid a tangle of electrical wire and rubber tubing. You could imagine the device on Kevin Costner's trimaran or Bruce Dern's spaceship in Silent Running: the last, lowest means of keeping flora alive—and possibly civilization, too. There's nothing elegant about Simaitis' grow-pod; it's merely the mechanical husk for the treasure inside. Peek into the glowing enclosure and you'll find sprouts of grass—well, sprouts of something—nearly an inch high. By the end of the month, they may be pushing out of the pod and in need of trimming (with a very small pair of scissors). Or they could be moved outside the gallery into a sidewalk planter. At some point, after our help, nature has to fend for itself.Soil, 112 Third Ave. S., 264-8061, Free. Noon–5 p.m. Wed.–Sat.

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