I have fallen in love with a tree in the middle of a gigantic parking lot. I cannot really explain how this happened, but love is a hard thing to explain. The tree is not something that most people notice, except as a source of shade for their cars. Yet, somehow – on a beautiful summer day in June 2005 – I was drawn to the beauty of this forsaken California Sycamore tree, stuck in the middle of Rose Bowl parking lot K. I was touched by how lonely it was, and I was outraged by the many indignities it suffered.
The tree – like most parking lot trees – was starved for water and oxygen due to the asphalt that surrounds it. The stress from the lack of water and oxygen led to an increase of a variety of pests. The tree was also in grave danger from the cars that liked to park near it to benefit from its shade.
I have taken it upon myself to try to rectify the many wrongs that this tree has suffered. Since August 2005, I have been watering the tree with large water bags. In October 2005, I built and installed tree guards in order to protect the tree from cars. And, for the last nine months or so, I have been trying to help the tree reproduce. Since April 2006, I have been lobbying the City and the Rose Bowl to remove the asphalt beneath the canopy of the tree, so that the tree would get more of the water and oxygen that it desperately needs. In September 2006, the Rose Bowl removed 400 square feet of asphalt beneath the tree and replaced it with mulch.
In the 400 square foot area now reserved for the tree, I have been able to secure preliminary approvals to construct a museum to the tree. There will be a boulder necklace and two sculptural earrings. There will be a series of plaques embedded in these boulders that celebrate the tree from the microscopic level to the ecological level. Since I began this project, I have been filming and photographing the tree and the human activities that surround the tree; interviewing a wide variety of tree experts, ecologists, activists, and landscape architects; and recording an audio diary concerning all the things I am discovering in relationship to the tree.
The target date for the opening of the tree museum is June, 2007. The production of the park will be under the auspices of the Rose Bowl, the City of Pasadena, and LA ART. I am currently in Germany to exhibit the project at the Adamski Gallery (May 5 through June 16) in Aachen, Germany. It also just showed at Art Cologne and will be exhibited now in an Adamski Gallery space in Cologne. Future shows are scheduled at Chapman University in June and at W139 in Amsterdam in August.
'June 12, 2005: I met the tree, and I fell in love', 'September 27, 2006: They removed 400 square feet of asphalt and replaced it with mulch!', 'February 16, 2007: The Tree Babies Have Arrived!!!', 2007, all courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. 'Sick – Amour', 2007, Installation view, courtesy Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.