Eighteen visual artists are participating in a much anticipated exhibition of small works, Reach: Trees at Location Gallery this month. The creations include a variety of mediums and styles all no larger than 14 inches.
Full disclosure: I love trees. I often zone out staring at them. My job requires me to plant and care for smaller types. Yes, I hug trees too. But, strangely, I never used them as subject matter in my artwork – until now.
I immediately contacted Peter Roberts, Director of Location Gallery in Savannah, and asked if I might provide two tree portraitures. I recently wrote a piece about the gallery’s business model: 50% back to the artist and the net profits (after expenses) to a local non-profit, which can range anywhere from 30% – 40% of the overall total. This model benefits everyone involved.
Reach: Trees aids The Savannah Tree Foundation. Full disclosure: Karen Jenkins, the Executive Director, is a good friend of mine. Profits from this show will assist the Foundation in their work to help replant trees around town this winter.
After Hurricane Matthew, I asked Karen about the extent of the damage from the storm and if she had any advice for tree owners.
“Every few years, it’s really important to hire a certified arborist before storm season,” Karen told me. “Keep the trees healthy by properly trimming as needed and keep their roots strong. Plant them in the right place, not too close to the home.” She also advised against planting invasive trees like the Chinese Tallow.
We also discussed Chatham County’s current tree canopy, which when last evaluated was only at 36% coverage. This is due mostly to fast-growing development around the airport, distribution centers and new roadways. Next survey will show the hurricane’s impact.
With this in mind, I began to create a few pieces for the exhibition. I dug deep through my memory recalling the cherry tree in my childhood backyard, the tall oak that held our tire swing and the white barn owl that lived in one of those giants. My sister and I raked leaves every autumn, piling them high to cushion our leaps.
Even today, particular specimens become chapters in my life story.
When Hurricane Matthew took my favorite cedar tree down, the loss cut deep.
I was always quite smug while giving directions to my house. “It’s the yellow house with the prettiest tree on the street.” Its beauty could not withstand Matthew’s wrath. Our sweet friend was even tearing up when she informed us the tree was on our house. I kept some branches for walking sticks; my husband and I slowly peeled the fragrant bark away.
Making my paintings for Reach: Trees was, without a doubt, totally needed art therapy.
“Trees are poems that Earth writes upon the sky.” ~Kahlil Gibran”
Reach: Trees opens at Location Gallery (417 Whitaker St.) on Thursday, December 1 with a reception from 5 to 9pm. The reception is part of the Downtown Design District’s Holiday Walk.
Participating Artists: Laura Adams, Stacie Jean Albano, Lyn Bonham, Lennie Ciliento, Nea Hanna, Deborah Llewellyn, Tobia Makover, Scarlett Manning, Rubi McGrory, Lara Neece, Preston Orr, Jennylyn Pawelski, Juliana Peloso, Peter E. Roberts, Daniel E. Smith, Shelley Smith, Bryan Stovall, Lisa D. Watson