Amid Outside magazine’s monthly regulars: a gear carnival, a death-defying mountain assault, a top-30 list of adventure tours, here’s an amusing story about trees doing modern art.
I guess if Thai elephants have recorded a CD and sea lions sell frameable artwork, it only made sense to get another biological kingdom involved. A performance artist from San Francisco tied pencils onto cypresses at a Georgia tree farm, positioned some heavy sketch paper scant millimeters away, then stood back and let the art happen.
It’s all written engagingly and with a blessed lassitude not often seen in such ClifBar-fueled magazines. Author Eric Hansen sounds like he’s taking calm, deep breaths as he writes, and not once does he kayak upside-down off a Class V waterfall or plummet through a treacherous Himalayan cornice.
Instead, he wanders amid the cypresses as they sketch. He admires artist Jonathon Keats’s bowtie if not his short-shorts (check Keats out on Wikipedia for a synopsis of other quirky projects, like strategically planting flowers to dictate the way honeybees dance).
Hansen does credit to the enterprise by taking the trees’ creations seriously, attempting to put into words the aesthetics portrayed in the – well, if chickenscratch isn’t quite the word, it’s close. And after a bit of reflection, he ends with some quiet advice that you can almost hear sighing on the north-Georgia breeze:
If modern art is the ultimate expression of its creator’s take on the human condition, then these artists’ message is clear: You guys think too much. Chill out and scribble awhile.