When a mini garden is done right, the plants feel grown in, not stuffed in, as if they have adapted to each other’s shape. This feeling is partially an illusion based on the care given to the initial positioning, but there is so much more to it. These are time based sculptures, so we think ahead, drawing on deep experiential knowledge of the differing habits, light responses, and growth rates. Lastly, we prune, pull and adapt as needed. Nothing is ever finished, but rather meticulously “caretaken”. By attending to these details, you set up the garden to grow into a pleasing, symbiotic whole.

Mini garden by Jon Schwark
Pottery by Conrad Gendron


Sonia Wieder-Atherton - Song In Remembrance Of Schubert

Sonia WIEDER-ATHERTON - violoncelle

For Sonia Wieder-Atherton, music has always been a laboratory. Her unbounded research has taken her from one repertoire to another, from one discovery to the next. Constantly exploring criss-crossing musical avenues, she unravels the received wisdom in a relentless pursuit of meaning.

She was born in San Francisco of a mother of Romanian origin and an American father.

She grew up in New-York and then Paris, where she enrolled at the Conservatoire National Supérieur, studying with Maurice Gendron. She very soon found herself investigating form and sound, already seeking a language that could be a common denominator for all music.

At 19 she crossed the iron curtain to live in Moscow, where she studied with Natalia Shakhovskaya at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Her years there left an indelible mark, for, in addition to receiving a top-class education, she took away a special relationship with time, stories and man.

Returning to France she has never stopped querying the repertoire. At 25, she won the Rostropovich Competition.

Sonia Wieder-Atherton works as tirelessly as she experiments. She enjoys nothing better than to decipher the language of contemporary composers like Pascal Dusapin, Georges Aperghis, and Wolfgang Rihm, all of whom she has been prompt to champion and who have written for her.

Researching the “classical” repertory with equal devotion, her curiosity sets her interpretations apart.

She performs as a soloist under the guidance of numerous conductors, notably: the Paris Orchestra, the French National Orchestra, the Belgian National Orchestra, the Liège Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonia, the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Luxembourg, the NDR Orchestra in Hanover, the REMIX Ensemble, Les Siècles, Asko/Schönberg… and works regularly with musicians like Imogen Cooper and Raphaël Oleg, with whom she records and performs in concert.

In recent years she has instigated a wide range of projects conceived as complete musical and visual experiences: Jewish songs, a cycle for cello and piano inspired by the art of the Hazzan; Eastern songs, for cello and instrumental ensemble, conceived as a journey from Russia to Central Europe; Vita, for cello solo and three cellos, in which she tells the story of Angioletta-Angel via two timeless geniuses, Monteverdi and Scelsi; Odyssey for cello and imaginary choir, in which a woman, alone with her cello, accompanied by a soundtrack, faces the elements : wind, waves, chaos, storms; and her latest project, Little Girl Blue, from Nina Simone.

For Sonia Wieder-Atherton, playing Bach, Beethoven, Jewish songs or Nina Simone, is the same movement, asking the same questioning: that of a voice that can never be understood if it is heard in isolation.

Sonia Wieder-Atherton constantly pushes back the boundaries, venturing with her cello into other artistic forms, with projects like From the East in music, a show designed with footage from Chantal Akerman’s film Est, and two projects with celebrated actresses: Danses Nocturnes, with Charlotte Rampling, featuring works by Benjamin Britten and Sylvia Plath, and Marguerite Duras’ Navire Night with Fanny Ardant.

In 2011, she received the Bernheim Foundation Award, which each year acknowledges three creative works in the fields of the arts, literature and science.

Sonia Wieder-Atherton - Trad. Tcherepnin Jewish Traditional (Song In Remembrance Of Schubert)


Jade bonsai with moss agate mini-geode and other stone.

This plant has a gorgeous old fat trunk and an extensive root system that fills nearly the entire pot. You can’t really tell here, but this is the Crassula ovata variety with very elongated leaves, but the first pairs after the last pruning seem to have grown in as a nice diamond shape. A week before potting, I cut 4 leaves off each of the two stems. With such a strong base, the plant should react to this aggressive pruning immediately with more small, compact growth. It’s already pushing a tiny new bud from the secondary trunk.

The 3" handmade bonsai pot is from French-Canadian potter Conrad Gendron. I was attracted to the katakana-like accent marks he used, and tried to pick a plant that echoed that angular energy above the lip. The topping pebbles also followed his color scheme. Several more of his pieces are on my shelf, waiting to be filled, so stay tuned!

And yes, when I say “moss agate mini-geode”, I mean it’s really a tumbled chalcedony rock with little moss-like inclusions, and tiny crystals inside an air-gap. 

Catalog # si201613

Potted: June 2016


Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) have discovered new details that are helping them decipher the mystery of how giant radio-emitting structures are formed at the center of a cluster of galaxies.

The scientists studied a cluster of thousands of galaxies more than 250 million light-years from Earth, named the Perseus Cluster after the constellation in which it appears. Embedded within the center, the Perseus Cluster hosts a pool of superfast particles that emit radio waves, creating a radio structure known as a “mini-halo.” Mini-haloes have been found in about 30 galaxy clusters, but the halo in the Perseus Cluster is the largest known, about 1.3 million light-years in diameter, or 10 times the size of our Milky Way Galaxy.

The sizes of the mini-haloes have presented a puzzle to astronomers. As the particles travel away from the cluster’s center, they should slow down and stop emitting radio waves long before they reach the distances observed, according to theory.

“At large distances from the central galaxy, we don’t expect to be able to see these haloes,” said Marie-Lou Gendron-Marsolais, of the University of Montreal. “However, we do see them and we want to know why,” she added.

The astronomers took advantage of the upgraded capabilities of the VLA to make new images of the Perseus Cluster that were both more sensitive to fainter radio emissions and provided higher resolution than previous radio observations.

“The new VLA images provided an unprecedented view of the mini-halo by revealing a multitude of new structures within it,” said Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo, also of the University of Montreal. “These structures tell us that the origin of the radio emission is not as simple as we thought,” she said.

The new details indicate that the halo’s radio emission is caused by complex mechanisms that vary throughout the cluster. As theorized before, some radio emission is caused by particles being reaccelerated when small groups of galaxies collide with the cluster and give the particles a gravitational shove. In addition, however, the scientists now think that the radio emission is also caused by the powerful jets of particles generated by the supermassive black hole at the core of the central galaxy that give an extra “kick” of energy to the particles.

“This would help explain the rich variety of complex structures that we see,” Gendron-Marsolais said.

“The high-quality images that the upgraded VLA can produce will be key to helping us gain new insights into these mini-haloes in our quest to understand their origin,” Hlavacek-Larrondo said. The VLA, built during the 1970s, was equipped with all-new electronics to bring it up to the technological state of the art by a decade-long project completed in 2012.

IMAGE….VLA image of radio-emitting mini-halo in the Perseus Cluster of galaxies. Radio emission in red; optical in white.
Credit: Gendron-Marsolais et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF; NASA; SDSS.