the story behind the GardenLab@516’s Swiss Cheese Fence
The GardenLab@516 started out as my private outdoor artist studio in a vacant lot on the North Side, but it didn’t stay private for long. The Mattress Factory Museum on Pittsburgh’s North Side generously gifted this unused and trash-ridden lot to me for use as an outdoor studio for the 2010 growing season. As I worked in the space, cleaning up trash, planting plants and making sculptural works, I noticed that passersby on Sampsonia Way were stopping and looking through the spaces in between the pickets to see what was going on in the lot. Often I’d say hello and we’d start a conversation. Soon a few neighborhood folks became “regular” visitors and it became clear to me that I needed to add a few peepholes to give these neighbors an opportunity to get a better sense of with what was happening in the space. The first holes were small; a dozen holes, seven-eighths of an inch in diameter. This was good. Then more people started to stop by because they noticed the newly drilled holes and then someone suggested that I add a few larger holes. So I did. I added 18 more holes, some 2 1/2" in diameter, some 3" in diameter. Now this was even better. Then the Mattress Factory tour groups started to stop and peek through the fence. Then people wanted to come in and the garden went public.


growing beans in circles @ 516

Green and yellow bean plants were planted around the five tire stacks that housed potatoes one though five in an attempt to keep the temperature of the soil inside the tire stacks cool.

The beans grew rapidly and produced an abundant crop.