17 April 2012

Springtime in Portland: An Ephemeral Art Collaboration

In these early stages of my inquiry into land and ephemeral arts, I felt it necessary to get outside and make some stuff. My friend and colleague, Seattle-based photographer Audineh Asaf came to Portland for the weekend and we spent a day paying tribute to the resilient, multifunctional, and misunderstood dandelion. These are just the very beginning of a body of work that Audi and I intend to co-create.

We started with three simple pieces: The first piece was a spiral around the fire pit in my back yard. I live next door to a houseful of young, vibrant people, and we share a large urban backyard that is in much need of proactive garden energy. I was hoping the little gesture of affinity for the plants would stir up some interest and intention between us.

By the next day, the spiral was gone. The flowers had shriveled and the grass had grown ever so slightly--enough to obscure the design completely. I don't know if anyone even saw it! But it was worth doing, anyway.

Our second piece was a series of dandelion-chain ornaments on a row of trees in Mt. Tabor park. We placed them along a popular walkway.

While we were stringing the chains and hanging them up, I kept thinking about Andy Goldsworthy in his film Rivers and Tides, when he talks about giving the art as a gift to nature. It felt very much like we were making little necklaces for the trees, and like it was all for them and not at all for us. And yet we gained from it because when we left the park we both felt wonderful!

Before we left the park we gathered a bagful of dandelion blossoms, with plans to do the third piece somewhere very urban and ugly. We settled on the Whole Foods parking lot, in hopes that the slightly-more progressive shoppers there would appreciate and understand our little message.

We made the design and then went inside and got some groceries. When we came out, a little girl was repairing a piece of the design that had been damaged by a gust of wind. It was amazing to see how the children reacted right away to what we were doing, and I started to think that maybe doing art with kids wouldn't be so bad, after all ;-)

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