Sunday, September 7, 2008

Making Marks

First there was a weeping beech. Not only is the bark smooth and white (which makes carvings more legible that they would be on say, a black walnut), but the architecture of the tree creates seclusion—a place where one’s not as likely to be caught being a vandal.

To everyone that journeys under its canopy, the tree becomes their place, makes them feel a sense of discovery, that maybe they’re privy to this spot. And it's satisfying finding a curious shaded spot off the beat path after wandering on the sunny, public grounds of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It's a nice contrast.

It’s also interesting to see what people (individuals, couples, maybe even groups) carve when no one else is watching. And what do they carve?

Their identities. Some cool designs. The tree has been changed. Cuts are generally unhealthy for a tree. Weakens growth, exposes inner tissues to pathogens…and yet, in my opinion, the bark has become very beautiful. The most beautiful marks are the ones filled in with scar tissue, where the marks have had time to influence the tree’s growth—to become part of the tree. I didn’t feel the need to contribute (perhaps I’m more of a critic than a participant and besides, I like my trees healthy), but I bet the first cut was all it took to get the ball rolling. I wonder when it hit that threshold: when it became a community art project.

Same with this abandoned pumphouse in Manayunk. Brick, lumber, spray paint, human hands, and decay has created a rich texture.

Layers upon layers. Sublime.

(Don't worry, I was not alone. This was on a field trip with a class.)

We humans like to make a mark.

It's contagious.


Frances, said...

Hi Gardener, so nice to see that you indeed went east, young man. I look forward to seeing your impressions of this strange part of the country through your posts. Don't forget to study hard and play harder!

Frances at Faire Garden

Kimber said...

I don't want to distract too much from what you're saying, but here's another view of Philly graffiti.

Gardener of La Mancha said...

Frances, and it's so nice that you haven't given up on this poor neglected blog! I'm certainly studying hard and enjoying it so far...(hence the neglect).

Kimber, thanks for the distraction. I haven't noticed that building yet, though I've certainly been in the area. There's just too many ways to look when you're in center city.

Ellen said...

Great shot of the skyline! Did you make it to the NYBG or did you decide to do the BBG this time and save the Bronx for later?

lisa said...

thought provoking. . .i'm glad you are having fun.

Gardener of La Mancha said...

Hi Ellen, I took that shot from the Chinatown bus back to Philly. I could just barely make out the statue of liberty. Brooklyn was the only botanic garden I went to. I'm saving the NYBG for the grand tour.

Parsec said...

Interesting pictures and blog! I like how you captured all of the marks.

Brent said...


I'm glad you took me beyond the easy assessment of vandalism to some place better and a little redemptive.

Chloe Marguerite said...

Fantastic photography, especially that last one of the skyline.


And good luck with the Dudleya!

Weeping Sore said...

What a wonderful meditation on the marks of man and of nature. You seek not to judge, to see beauty where ever you look, to share your visions with people like me who have less visual imaginations. Thanks.

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