When you see the inspired, weather-resilient works of art displayed at the E.B. Dunn Gardens ArtWalk, you wonder why all artists don't design for the outdoors.

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When you see the inspired, weather-resilient works of art displayed at the E.B. Dunn Gardens ArtWalk, you wonder why all artists don’t design for the outdoors.

True, the elegant vistas and mature plantings of the historic Olmsted-designed Dunn Gardens in Northwest Seattle make an especially dramatic backdrop for this biennial tour. Once I’d seen Clare Dohna’s mosaic herons sheltered by a maple tree, David Chatt’s creature-like glass pieces half submerged in a pond and dozens of glass floats sprinkled across the gardens’ “Great Lawn” at the 2007 tour, it was impossible to imagine these pieces ever looking so amazing enclosed by walls under artificial light.

Maybe it’s the intense green of conifers and ferns, our luminous Northwest light or the exciting juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural, but I came home from last year’s art walk with the notion that a garden’s highest purpose might well be an open-air art gallery.

The summer 2009 Dunn Gardens ArtWalk will feature the work of 25 artists on the theme of next year’s Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Centennial. (Closer to the time, check out www.dunngardens.org for dates and details.) Congratulations to all who gather such talent together in so glorious a setting.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer and author of “A Pattern Garden.” Her e-mail address is valeaston@comcast.net. Ken Lambert is a Seattle Times staff photographer.