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Local artist's work graces Washington holidays

Credit Michael E. Keating

An electric train chugs past whimsical landscapes and coastal lighthouses made of twigs, leaves and nuts.  The fantasy installation includes national landmarks along with a replica of the Coney Island Ohio River shoreline entrance to the Cincinnati landmark, no doubt a nod to the creator’s Tri-State roots.

In a U.S. Botanic Garden display that pays homage to historic lighthouses, Paul Busse, Northern Kentucky artist, forager and creator of Applied Imagination, continues to add his personal creative vision to the holidays in the nation’s capital.

Applied Imagination’s 15 member team, headquartered in Alexandria, KY, have been bringing trains and fantasy landscapes to life in displays since the early 80s, when Busse gathered his first materials from the grounds surrounding Cincinnati’s Krohn Conservatory to create a garden railway concept that highlighted local iconic buildings made from the bits and pieces of natural items he collected.

The New York Times called him a master designer and creator of whimsical landscapes, buildings and monuments.  Slowed by Parkinson’s and in his mid-60s, he continues to manage installations with onsite visits.

In addition to the seasonal display in the 85,000 square foot glass greenhouse that sits near the US Capitol in Washington, DC, Busse’s designs are part of a permanent collection featuring Lilliputian renderings of the US Capitol, Supreme Court, Lincoln Memorial and other government buildings, all constructed from plant products.

With decades of experience Busse’s creations are seen throughout the country, with the highlight being his annual holiday themed masterpiece that features 17 lighthouses and nautical elements including a pirate ship. The show continues through January 4, 2015.

Busse’s infatuation with LGB G-scale trains weaving through three dimensional landscapes led him to his first public display at the 1982 Ohio State Fair in Columbus.  His success in designing layouts and their popularity with those familiar with his talents opened the possibility for a display on his home turf in Cincinnati’s Eden Park where he combined landscape and iconic Cincinnati buildings into a visual delight seen by thousands during the holiday season. 

The Krohn Conservatory show in Cincinnati continues through January 4, 2015.

Read more at the Applied Imagination blog    https://appliedimaginationbiz.wordpress.com/author/appliedimaginationbiz/