When a Tree Falls

The word “earth” has (ART) within it.   I didn’t think about that too deeply when we planned an exhibition called “eARTh” opening on October 5th in our White Plains building.  Credit for that title goes to Leigh Taylor Mickelson, the curator, who selected the earth works of 68 artists in the region.  She is the program director at the Clay Art Center and a clay artist in her own right, whose sculptures look like graceful trees made out of bits and pieces of what else? Clay.  You won’t get to see Leigh’s work in the show since it’s a “no no” to include a curator in her own show, but you can get to see some of them by going on her webpage.

The connection between earth and art was somewhat abstract to me, that is until a huge outcrop of four trees fell down on my property well after the storm subsided.  The trees were actually standing when I decided to take a walk up the driveway to see what litter Irene had left us…lots of leaves and branches.  As I walked back down the driveway toward the house, I noticed that the trees had fallen during the five minute timeframe of my walk.  Phew!  They didn’t fall on me.  Nor did they touch the house.  The earth was good to me that day and sent the trees in the opposite direction of the house and timed them to fall after I had passed.  That is enough fodder to keep me thinking for a long time…about the earth, the arts, beauty, nature, but also about power and choice, about where we walk and who decides what.

In the case of the exhibition, Curator Leigh gets to decide that this is an exhibition about the “art” in the earth. She also gets to decide about each element she places in her sculpture, as does every artist.  In fact, that is just the point.  Every artist makes choices.  That is why it is important to teach the arts in schools so that every youngster can learn how to make choices.  But I digress.  In the case of the four trees, I will decide who gets to cut them into pieces and what we do with the remains.  Perhaps, I’ll contact Dan Lehmeier, an artist who carves sculpture out of fallen trees. One of his pieces may still be there at Ward Pond Park.

Or, perhaps we’ll use a chipper and send that back to the earth from whence they came. No matter, we should have enough to give to friends for good luck.  And, just for the record, for anyone wondering whether “if a tree falls in the forrest and no one sees or hears it, did the tree really fall,” the answer is “yes.”

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