Published on the Occasion of the Exhibition: Happy Tree Friends: Part I (or Standing: Tree as Agent, Index, Object of Desire) March 6– April 18, 2009 La Esquina, an Urban Culture Project venue 1000 West 25th Street Kansas City, Missouri 64108 Happy Tree Friends: Part II (or Standing: Tree as Agent, Index, Object of Desire) April 17– June 4 Paragraph gallery, an Urban Culture Project venue 23 East 12th Street Kansas City, Missouri 64105 firstname.lastname@example.org www.charlottestreet.org Published by Charlotte Street Foundation PO Box 10263 Kansas City, Missouri, 64171 © Copyright 2009 Charlotte Street Foundation Artworks reproduced with permission of the artists. Cover image: Shawn Sanem, Locust, 2009, ink on paper, 15” x 21” Exhibition and catalogue curated by Kate Hackman Exhibition assistance provided by Jared Panick Design and layout by Abby Rufkahr Edited by Kristin Grossman Printed by blurb.com Organized in partnership with the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas www.spencerart.org Special thanks: Saralyn Reece Hardy, Steven Goddard, Meredith Moore, Bill Woodard Made possible with the support from the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, Commerce Bank Trustee. All rights reserved.
(or Standing: Tree as Agent, Index, Object of Desire) PART ONE ARTISTS Barry Anderson Jeff Badger Carnal Torpor Julia Cole Mark Cowardin Jeanna Darby Dominique Davison + Robert Riccardi Kristina Estell Cari Freno Diane Henk Michael Krueger Sarah Luther Kacy Maddux Johnny Naugahyde Benjamin Potter Shawn Sanem Margaret Shelby Carlos Rosales-Silva Deanna Skedel Jesse Small Corine Vermeulen-Smith Maranda Stebbins Davin Watne Jennifer Whiteford
PART TWO ARTISTS Kurt Flecksing Hmh Services Ke-Sook Lee Sarah Vandersall B.J. Vogt Chris Wildrick
Introduction by Kate Hackman, Curator
The saddest thing I ever did see Was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree. He looks at me, and “Friend,” says he, Things ain’t as sweet as they used to be.
—Shel Silverstein (1981), “Peckin”
Trees function as skins upon which we write our histories; as bodies onto and through which we project our aspirations, attributes, and beliefs; and as both tools and inspiration for a vast spectrum of constructions and expressions. Populating remote territories as well as parks, public spaces, and our own backyards, trees represent both wild and domesticated nature; the manner in which we perceive, portray, and position ourselves in relation to them expresses our ideas about the natural world and ourselves within it. Marking place as well as the passage of time, trees serve as means of locating ourselves physically and temporally, and of measuring activity, change, growth, and memory by and against. As sources of food, shelter, oxygen, and raw material, trees enable our existences—fueling our bodies as well as the fulfillment of our desires; registering our productivity as well as our excesses and abuses. As evocative, enduring forms, trees populate myths and inspire odes; and their physical structure—roots, trunk, limbs, branches—serves as model and metaphor for organizing and presenting far-ranging types of information. The exhibition Happy Tree Friends (or Standing: Tree as Agent, Index, Object of Desire) developed in response to an invitation for collaboration from the Spencer Museum of Art at University of Kansas, which was in the planning stages for its own multi-part and
multi-disciplinary exhibition project, Trees and Ramifications: Branches in Nature and Culture, curated by Steve Goddard, Senior Curator and Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Spencer Museum, in collaboration with the University of Kansas Natural History Museum/Biodiversity Research Center. Interested in further connecting and fostering exchange between the arts communities of Lawrence and Kansas City, Spencer Museum of Art Director Saralyn Reece Hardy invited Charlotte Street Foundation to pick up the tree theme in Kansas City by organizing an exhibition for one of our Urban Culture Project venues involving area artists. What emerged is a two-part thematic exhibition of diverse works spanning two of CSF’s Urban Culture Project venues: la Esquina (Happy Tree Friends Part I, March 6-April 18, 2009) and Paragraph gallery (Happy Tree Friends Part II, April 17-June 4, 2009). In total, the project presents the work of more than 30 artists, from Kansas City and Lawrence as well as Portland, ME; Duluth, MN; Richmond, VA; Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL; Omaha, NE; Syracuse, NY; and St Louis, MO. Artists were selected primarily based on proposals submitted in response to a call to artists issued in late 2008, complemented by a few individual invitations. Happy Tree Friends approaches its theme as an opportunity to consider and draw connections among a wide swath of artworks
and creative investigations—bound simply by the fact that all somehow relate to, reference, and/or incorporate trees. The call to artists for this project elicited a plethora of impassioned responses, attesting to an abundance of artists making use of trees in their work and asserting trees as active players in our everyday existences, emotional lives, and imaginations. Yet while interested in how, why, and to what effect these artists are using and invoking trees in their work, Happy Tree Friends does not seek to advance a specific argument or proscribe a certain set of belief or behaviors in relation. Works included were selected for a wide variety of reasons—for formal qualities or social relevance; for emotional, psychological, or conceptual interest; for their sense of playfulness or provocation. As a whole, the exhibition’s composition and complexion is more like a colorful raking together of leaves fallen from different trees than a network of branches stemming from a single limb. The title of the show attempts to capture a sense of its profuse admixture as well as to personify, as the works themselves do, trees as lively, familiar, personality-laden, evocative, and essential cohabitants, companions, cooperators, and coconspirators, who populate, demarcate, support, enable, and color our individual and collective lives. At the same time, “Happy Tree Friends” invokes a bit of irony,
playing off cliché notions of the liberal, earthy-crunchy, “tree hugger,” which the predominately subtle, nuanced, and critically-minded works in the exhibition complicate and exceed.
Happy Tree Friends Part I
If these works share a common thrust, it might simply be to ask us to pay attention; to slow down, look around, and consider all of the ways we are inextricably bound to— inseparable from—the natural world. Whether homing in on the sounds of the forest (Margaret Shelby), the fine details, textures, gestures, and individualistic personalities of singular trees (Shawn Sanem, Jennifer Whiteford), the evocative, poetic properties of trees more generally (Diane Henk), or the extensive and expansive growth patterns and natural systems trees manifest (Kacy Maddux), many of these artists’ works are grounded and invested in attentive observation while also expressing fellowship with, empathy for, and a certain reverence toward the subjects they attend to. In some cases, observation gives rise to action, and specifically human-nature interactions/collaborations. Born of desire for direct engagement with the natural, as well as an interest in compelling a similar level of engagement in others, such works include Sarah Luther’s creative raking projects, Carnal Torpor’s tree-derived food experiments and diagrams, Jeff
Badger’s hybrid drawing machines, Mark Cowardin’s fantastical log-powered electrical systems, Dominique Davison and Robert Riccardi’s proposition for a green-ring to contain suburban sprawl, Deanna Skedel’s ghostly tree light portrait, and Cari Freno’s performative video works, which portray the artist seeking tactile interaction and a sort of intimate connection with a series of different trees. Like Freno’s “secret acts,” as well as Julia Cole’s opening night performance, Embrace, many express longing for a return to a more integrated existence in the midst of a sense of disconnect, such as Carlos Silva-Rosales’ No National Monument, which draws a parallel between the perceived death of Native American culture and the severance of a log from the living tree of which it once was a part; or Barry Anderson’s Epic Escapism, which focuses on a lone branch caught by a wire as means to crystallize a gap between culture and nature, constraint and release. The idea of mediated nature is picked up by a number of artists. Maranda Stebbins and Kristina Estell both make use of commercial fabrics printed with camouflage patterns, which portray brightly graphic, stereotypical ideas of nature. In the hands of these artists, the pre-fab fabrics are employed to construct vibrant alternate realities, where un-natural combinations of natural forms happily and beautifully coexist. Corine Vermeulen-Smith similarly makes use of constructed,
contained depictions of nature, in this case landscape dioramas from museums, the surrealistic strangeness of which she sends up in her large-scale, super-saturated photographs. Other works are attuned to the specific types of space and behavior defined and enabled by the forest, such as the drawings of Ben Potter, which observe the forest as a place for personal discovery and private escape, or Davin Watne’s Darkness, which portrays the woods as a mysterious “other,” into and onto which we project our fears and desires. Michael Krueger also uses trees and branches as means of creating a setting and establishing a mood in a variety of drawings, as well as connecting different periods of American history. The tree becomes both actor and witness in these works, a signifier of change as well as a symbol of continuity, speaking to the specific dynamics of a particular moment and place as well as to the persistence of history and its legacy. Jeanna Darby photographs, too, address the passage of time, using trees and the landscape to distill the distance between things and experiences themselves, and our nostalgic/romantic notions of them. And Johnny Naugahyde picks up the topic of American history in his “Lincoln Log” watercolors, which humorously pay homage to our 16th president, his humble beginnings, and the abundant array of Americana related to them, including the ubiquitous children’s
building blocks. At a moment in the life of this country when Lincoln is ranked as the greatest president in our history, his wisdom frequently invoked, and a “back to the land” and return to simpler times mentality is burgeoning, these works feel particularly timely.
Happy Tree Friends Part II
Happy Tree Friends Part II developed as a means to spread out a bit more, focusing on installation-based and often interactive works. All were created specifically for the exhibition, with the exception of several pieces from Chris Wildrick’s ongoing, multifaceted Best Tree in the World project, in which the artist employs a cumulative array of structures and tactics for documenting, analyzing, and comparing a steadily growing number of trees according to a set of essential tree characteristics, all toward ultimately determining “the best tree.” This experientially-based, committed yet playful and humorous endeavor of systematically measuring the real against the ideal seems perfectly in keeping with the nature of the subject it approaches, of which we clearly have high expectations and onto which we project numerous demands and desires. Among Wildrick’s tree investigations is The Best Tree in the World: Oral History, through which he has collected a series of treerelated memories from various individuals, documented as audio recordings. Kurt
Flecksing’s diaLog similarly creates a context and platform for sharing lived experience and tree-related knowledge. With his cluster of simple sculptural and functional seating made from a variety of woods collected locally, Flecksing offers a tree-derived and tree-centered conversation pit of sorts. Within this installation, the artist is host to a series of Saturday afternoon talks by leading area arborists, thus facilitating the exchange of information and sharing of knowledge, and opening the doors of the gallery to a broader community and potential set of interactions. Ke-Sook Lee draws on her personal memories and cultural history in Tree Woman and Tree Woman Leaves. Employing leaves and bark gathered on walks over a number of years as sculptural elements and surfaces for drawings/paintings, these delicate works portray a deep reverence for the natural world, with each leaf and piece of bark treated as a cherished object and carrier of meaning. Inspired by memories of her upbringing in Korea—of a female shaman “shaking her body beneath a tree” to invoke the powers of the universe, and of the gradual healing of the landscape through national tree plantings following the Korean War—and created through a laborintensive process grounded in the present tense, Lee connects the living and the dead, and the physical and the spiritual as equal components of a holistic consciousness. Sarah Vandersall envisions the tree as a
multi-sensorial, radiant, and responsive life-force as well in her installation Finite Radius: Our Ra Half-Life-1600 Tree Recorder. This wall work unfolds according to a map of the artist’s invention, with each material and object fulfilling a particular function as part of a complex tree-centered scenario. Exploring the idea of the tree as a lively, living registrar of dynamic activity and energy as well as a connector between past and future, ground and heavens, Vandersall presents an elaborate field of visual and tactile information or “events” that swirl into and out of the rings of the tree. A collaborative, conceptual launch pad for a range of investigations, Hmh Services is a partnership between Kansas City based artists Lacey Wozny and Neal Wilson, who employ a back and forth approach to the development of projects such as their Prairie Ent Buttonwood. Establishing a contract as a point origin, in this case for a royally chartered company with the public’s cultural benefit as its mission and a concession for the protection of the tall grass prairie its particular interest, Hmh mines and merges an idiosyncratic field of information, ambling associatively across time and place to connect unlike but speculatively connected objects and occurrences, here centered around ideas of economy and ecology. References to the Buttonwood tree, under which the New York Stock Exchange was born, serve as a grounding as well as a
jumping off point for connections to such things as coffee and figs (fuels of productivity/labor), a stack of hand-crafted books, diagrams, moss covered rocks, and an upside-down portrait of John Deere (now possessing the face of Matthew McConaughey.) From this field of information emerges a vast sphere of time, history, and mythology with which to reimagine and reevaluate an approach to our current economic and ecological “crises.” With his Frankenstein-esque installation, Root, B.J. Vogt draws a parallel between the roots of trees and the neurons in the brain—both as foundations or core structures from which larger organic bodies and networks emanate, while also receptors of information from other parts of the material body. Conflating roots and branches, Vogt’s work embodies this multi-directional flow as well as the responsive/contingent relationship of a living thing to its environment, as viewers—external stimuli—trigger reactions, which then trigger other reactions, activating various parts of the extensive system and the space in which it exists. Sensitive enough to respond to the movements of people on the street outside the gallery, Vogt’s work reminds us of the manner in which trees, humans, and other life forms affect and respond to one another, whether conscious of this codependence or not.
“Growing from the earth to the sun, a tree is an image of certain happiness. To perceive this image we must be immobile like the tree. When we are moving, it is the tree, which becomes the spectator. It is witness, equally, in the shape of chairs, tables and doors, to the more or less agitated spectacle of our life. The tree, having become a coffin, disappears into the earth. And when it is transformed into fire, it vanishes into air.” —Rene Magritte
barry anderson â€œAfter a spring storm, a small limb was found trapped, dangling on a power line and swaying in the wind. Framed by a bright blue sky, the small limb seemed so lonely and out of context. The final video image is turned upside down to make the limb appear as if trying to escape upwards, into the atmosphere. The accompanying audio references the chaos of the ground or the world being escaped.â€?
Epic Escapism (2), 2005, single-channel video with 5.1 surround sound, dimensions variable
jeff badger “These drawings were inspired by ecological concerns, deluge myths, and the 18th-century seafaring tale of the mutiny on The Bounty, a ship whose original mission was the transportation of breadfruit trees. While The Bounty’s arboreal passengers were silently growing in an artificial earth below deck, the worst traits of human behavior were playing out above. In these works the trees act as stand-ins for people—by enacting miniature dramas of human struggle, I hope to present an opportunity to look humorously at our own actions from afar. Reinscribing Rings pairs drawing machines made from reclaimed electronics with freshly cut logs. The machines, made from cassette players, clocks, and various motors, draw an approximation of tree rings on top of the stumps, accelerating the dendrochronological process and making it visible to human eyes.”
Reinscribing Rings, 2008, found electronics, paper, graphite and wood, dimensions variable Thicket, 2008, graphite on paper, 24” x 15” Sick Tree #2, 2008, mixed media on paper, 9” x 11”
carnal torpor “Culture is a facet of nature. Nowhere is this connection illustrated more clearly than when we eat. Our meals are the lived experience of the continuum of nature at all scales: chemical, biological, symbolic, etc. We experience the alchemy of nature as chlorophyll transforms solar radiation into chemical energy, which is in turn consumed by us as food. Through digestion, this energy becomes available to us to power our actions and our thoughts before transforming into other manifestations. In noticing the complexities of this alchemical narrative, we can both conceptually understand and literally feel our innate connection to the world. TRY is comprised of a set of three experimental meals designed to maximize the experience of culture as nature through the mediating tool of food. Each meal is prepared with ingredients native to the Missouri landscape and utilizes a single preparation technique. The meals are served upon a sculptural table covered with a series of diagrams outlining a variety of information about each ingredient and its respective processing technique, thus providing each diner with a holistic context exploring the chemical, biological, and cultural content of their food. TRY ONE: RAW This meal is comprised exclusively of local foods warmed to a temperature of less than 104 degrees. Associated diagrams focus on the process of photosynthesis and the understanding of what nuts and berries are and how they function as a technology of propagation. TRY TWO: ALIVE This meal is made of fermented local foods. Diagrams concern the collectivity of nutrition and culture and techniques of generating/cultivating probiotic cultures. TRY THREE: COOKED This meal features cooked food using local ingredients. Diagrams concern the chemical changes that occur during the cooking process and the ritual value of eating as culture.”
Try, 2009, tree, tree-derived media, paint, digital prints on canvas, 31” x 93” x 93”
julia cole â€œThis performance, Embrace, was suggested to me by the unconditional generosity I have always received from trees. It explores inward love, outward love, and expansive stillness.â€?
Embrace, 2009, multimedia performance, dimensions variable
mark cowardin “The focus of my work is the point at which humans and the natural world intersect. I am extraordinarily interested in the disconnect between people and the origins of the things they consume. Many of my sculptures incorporate found tree parts that metaphorically take the place of pipe or conduit. Fabricated fixtures and fittings create a direct, absurd, and whimsical link between humans and nature. Electrical and plumbing systems specifically work as analogies for humans, while providing the conceptual correlation to my ideas of interconnectivity. With a background in construction and carpentry, I have developed an understanding of the functionality as well as an admiration for the aesthetics of plumbing and electrical wiring. The implied function of the fittings is the central element of many of my sculptures. My installation, Give and Take, plays off the idea that humans are directly linked to nature and trees. An entire electrical system is parasitically attached to a large stack of logs, some of which are charred. Several carved wood, mechanical elements are interwoven into the stack. The “electricity” produced by the stack enters the gallery through a series of fabricated wood conduit and fixtures. Upon entering, the conduit integrates into the gallery and disappears into the realm where such things exist. All of my works are meant to create dialogue about the delicate relationship between humans and nature. Humor and irony soften the edges of conversations about serious issues. I have a persistent belief that art possesses much more than just the ability to entertain, but also the capacity to inform, educate, and inspire.”
Give and Take, 2009, wood, paint, metal leaf, and found tree parts, dimensions variable
jeanna darby “Nostalgia, in and of itself, is narrative. It is the ideological version of our recollections. As nostalgic beings we continually pull from our memories. We analyze, cherish, and regret them a hundred times over. What we do not realize is that with each recollection the accuracy of our perception of these spaces and events becomes more and more distorted. Facts become realigned. Everyday sights, a neighbor’s yard or a tree-lined path, are called into question. Familiar environments blur and merge within the borders of the real and imagined.”
This Level of Familiarity, 2008, c-print, 20” x 20”
dominque davison & robert riccardi “With Growth Rings – An Urban Dendochronology, it is our interest to chart the expansion of Kansas City, Missouri by dissecting the various layers of urban and suburban rings through the use of historic maps and development plans. Each era, or ring, is represented with a map created around the time of that area’s development, thereby also revealing differences in mapping techniques and capturing the temporal loci of that ring. The concentric formation is overlaid with a branching geometry, that of the rivers, trails, trains, and ultimately the interstate system that now dominates much of the urban landscape. We began with rudimentary hand-drawn maps of the Missouri River as it conjoins with the Kansas River, a series of branchlike veins that are the root cause of how Kansas City came to be. The center of the city was located originally along the south edge of the Missouri, within the current River Market district. Unlike a tree, the center has shifted and been displaced several times over the last 150-plus years. Maps from 1914 and 1920 show the center of Kansas City, Missouri, as Union Station, with mile markers radiating from this flourishing urban hub. Is the centralized growth pattern still relevant in a market where decentralization, ex-urban “cities” and suburbs with their strip malls dominate? We have witnessed the detriment to our air quality, health, and sense of community as these rhizomes of development scatter throughout our landscape. Our project is to ask, what if a limit were to be placed on the extents we could spread? What if an artificial edge (acting like San Francisco’s coast line/bay or Manhattan’s Riverfronts) where to be constructed that caused us to rethink density and our earlier centralized patterning?”
Growth Rings– An Urban Dendochronology, 2009, digital print, 24” x 36”
kristina estell “Reconstruction is a collage of various flora and fauna elements extracted from commercially printed fabric designs. The nature elements have been cut, starched, pieced and pinned together in an attempt to recreate or construct a more cohesive (albeit artificial and fictional) environment in which these plants and creatures can co-exist. The result is an incomplete and distorted view of an environment whose elements were originally meant and designed to be seen separately. Initially, representational nature-themed fabrics caught my attention because of their (in my opinion) lack of admirable aesthetic quality but also because of the specific kinds of nature that are chosen as design motifs, i.e., dead trees for camouflage, yards of soaring eagles, millions of lady bugs and butterflies side by side, hillsides full of nothing but bears and foxes, an unending snowscape of running wolves, etc. This became interesting to me in terms of how we as a society consider spaces of nature and landscape and how this becomes a part of our domestic lives.”
Reconstruction, 2006, fabric and quilting pins, 72” x 36” x 1”
cari freno “I am interested in a psychology that exists within a forest or other ‘untouched’ landscape and how our human minds and bodies experience, understand, and become a part of these places. I am interested in how are human relationship with nature has evolved over time and in the power struggle among magic, religion, and science. I want to understand how forcing a tree to experience the sensitive and sensuous nature of a human can make us live and think differently. My videos play with the surveillance of ‘secret acts’ that might exist within a realm of magic if they didn’t convey the failed and pathetic tenderness of a rookie’s attempts. A sincerity exists nevertheless, and it is within this nebulousness that meaning and humor emerge.”
Jump Tree, 2008, video Hold, 2008, video Log Lay, 2008, video
diane henk “Language alone can stir a viewer’s imagination, as much as visual imagery can. My works address the theme of ‘trees’ through the medium of poetry. Massive Pine is created from a poem I wrote entitled ‘Side Yard’—one of a series of ten poems inspired by visual impressions recalled from childhood memories. This work on paper references a pine’s massive structure and strong fragrance. It holds certain precious memories for me, yet due to the selective and restrained use of language as a means of expression, allows the viewer entry into his or her own thoughts. Through the layering of language with the use of tape and drafting film, I attempt to convey the subtle aspects of the tree, the fragileness of its various species, and the mysterious qualities of its nature. Be Still borrows language from a poem by Karen I. Shragg, ‘Think Like A Tree,’ and addresses the quality of silence that trees possess. Within this piece I incorporated the handwritten text to pay homage to its poet.”
Massive Pine, 2007, drafting film, tape, pencil, book binding thread on paper, 42”x 36” Be Still, 2007, drafting film, tape, pencil, book binding thread on paper, 42”x 36”
michael krueger “Narrative is a powerful force in our everyday lives and I believe we long for an unfolding of the ordinary into the mythic. I am searching for the extraordinary in everyday life and looking at history and landscape as means to better understand a world that is built on past events and memories. A deep sense of self, hope, melancholy and a vein of tenderness are qualities that I seek to convey in my work. I am interested in folding time and using history and landscape to divulge unique narratives. By overlapping recent histories with the past I ruminate on the omnipresence of history in our lives. Several of my recent drawings include protest signage; in these images I am casting a political mood on the landscape. These drawings become a means to address a fading memory of a turbulent past, a greater history beyond the strife of one political event. They emphasize that political history is constantly being rewritten to fortify a victor.”
Hermit’s Return, 2006, colored pencil, 11” x 22” Deadly Nightshade, 2008, colored pencil, 16” x 28” Green River, 2007, colored pencil, 16” x 28”
sarah luther “Kansas City was graced with an overactive fall in 2006, a fall that in my first two years of living in Kansas City I wouldn’t have thought possible. I am a person who is frequently enamored. The feeling arises often, but then there are certain moments, such as a change in scene, that spur the extreme desire to participate. Fall, with colors in mass, the way the air smells and feels, and the renewed comfort of sweaters, is one of the most routine and perhaps even cliché events we experience, and yet one I never fail to be captivated by. I like to believe that my job as an artist is to make people look closer at things; to create reason to pause, observe, and rediscover the everyday with a new perspective and rejuvenated curiosity. With my raking projects I not only wanted to create something slightly out of the ordinary to make people slow down a bit, but I wanted to create an experience for myself to be immersed in the landscape and to engage with people who also care greatly about these public spaces. Taking cues from nature and wind and the already existing order of the elements—fallen leaves, shadows, and pattern—I began to rake. Working with the materials at hand, I subtly and carefully rearranged and reordered the leaves to create the slight impression of the human mark, then left the projects for the public to experience and ask questions of, hopefully coloring at least their next few moments with an excitement for looking.”
Raking Projects, 2006, 2007, 2008, digital photographs, 5” x 7” each.
kacy maddux “I create human scale drawings that describe the individual conflicts we each experience, in a way that is both universal and familiar. In order to physically resonate with the viewer, the figures in my work are life sized. My palette consists only of black ink on paper. The choice of the simplest technology, the mark, reflects my intention to create work that is direct and accessible. I consider my use of ink on paper as a way to almost write my drawings and make them as minimally physical as possible. The ideas exist without body, like text. The tree is body without consciousness: a raw, elemental life with the purely physical motivations of growth and propagation. It is natural logic in its most basic and iconic form. The tree’s roots and branches run through all of nature. The branch pattern is repeated in the physiology of the animal circulatory and nervous systems, the veins of the river, and the fibers of the feather. In this pattern I see the infinite energy of life. The trunk is, or was, the branch, leaf, and seed. The seed is the tree. All parts of the tree are, or will be, the same. The tree’s identity is formed out of its structure, the structure of growth. In the tree I see the formless fountain of life manifesting itself. The archetypal tree is a totem of basic human conflicts. It is a creature of both the worm and the eagle, balancing between dark subterranean mysteries and the idealized heavens. With roots entrenched deeply in the earth and branches stretching toward the stars, the tree mirrors the hungry ghost of the human intellect that is contained by the limited form of the body. The horizon line, the temporary plane of man, bisects the tree at its navel. Christ was lain out on this tree, the tree of life. The tree embodies the basic division between heaven and earth and the psychic and physical.”
Untitled, 2007, ink on paper, 28” x 50”
johnny naugahyde “As a child in Wisconsin, trees were a daily part of my life. Trees were for climbing, to be used as a building material, made into weapons (spears, bows, and arrows—even wooden knives), burned as fuel, and as a plentiful art supply. Trees were also part of my family history: my great-grandfather owned a lumber mill in Northern Wisconsin around the turn of the 19thcentury, a time when clear cutting was all the rage; I lived in a paper mill town for part of my childhood, and the city was surrounded by endless piles of freshly cut pine trees that would be used to make paper; and I even tapped maple trees for maple syrup for fun. Subconsciously trees worked their way deep into my life. All that said, I love trees for all they provide and give back to us. It seems obvious to me now why so many aspects of my art deals with trees. The Lincoln Log series is painted on First Day Covers (commemorative envelopes that are cancelled on the first day that a new stamp is released). Over the years I have amassed hundreds of these envelopes, and I use them in art from time to time. In the years prior to using the name of Johnny Naugahyde, I only made art that was mailed through the United States Postal Service. I would make mail art for friends and also send work to the mail art shows that were popular in the 1980s (nonjuried, all inclusive, no work returned shows of questionable quality). My continued love of history, mail, and double entendre all combine into these little Lincoln Log watercolors.”
Lincoln Log series, 2006, watercolor on postcards, each 3.5” x 6.5”
benjamin potter “This work attempts to represent the pleasures and particulars of time spent in the woods. On the trails near my house I sometimes see the local kids smoking and drinking beer, and they set me to thinking about the woods as a place of refuge and possibility—an unsupervised and intricate space. I have always spent time outside, alone and with friends, and I’m interested in how people make sense of the natural world. The woods reveal themselves to people in various states of mind: birdwatchers and walkers, teenagers and botanists. The eye lights on a tangle of branches, weeds underfoot, or nothing much at all. The plastic in these pieces is from the type of shopping bags that often appear snagged in trees and ditches. I was attracted to this material because of its translucency and mundane malleability. It is an unromantic material reworked.”
Gas, 2007, cut plastic bag on paper, 19”x 24” Freddy and Seth, 2006, cut plastic bag on paper, 19”x 24”
shawn sanem “These drawings are exploring controlled, organic growth. I use visual information from the skeletons of trees for overall compositions. The small interdependent marks that make up each form are derived from natural patterns and halftone dots. Rhythmic patterns created by leaves and light, leaf structures, and the surfaces of seed pods and bark influence the shape and progression of the pattern. This series is based on an old locust that grows near my home.”
Locust, 2009, ink on paper, 15” x 21”
margaret shelby “While visiting historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania last summer, I stood in front of a 200-plus-year-old tree at the infamous Devil’s Den and was struck by the realization that here before me was a living witness to the battle of Gettysburg. It had survived that day, and all the decades, even centuries, between. Many in my group said, ‘If only this tree could talk...’ Well, what makes us think they do not? Perhaps not in words as we know them, but the question lingered in my mind: ‘Do trees have voices?’ I decided to make something of this notion and began to research sound in forests, discovering work done by the Ontario Science Center, and then expanded upon it by doing my own field recordings. Trained as a painter, in the past year I’ve been working with landscape as subject matter, and when I watched the audio signal from my field recordings scroll past on my computer, I couldn’t help but to see a landscape. I was intrigued by this connection between the audio signal and the subject it recorded, and went on to develop the audio signal as an actual painting, which then evolved into this video.”
Sound Forest, 2009, single-channel video
carlos rosales-silva â€œIt is important for me to create something interesting and beautiful for the viewer. In the case of No National Monument, sand was chosen as a vehicle for color, for its brilliance of tone and texture, and the way the light bounces off each grain of sand. It was also chosen for its conceptual implications. The sand rings are meant to artificially extend the rings on the tree section base. Sand has its own history as an element; it is the broken down detritus of a larger form. The sand also creates a barrier that does not allow the viewer to engage the main portion of the sculpture. The actual act of laying out the sand is performative in natureâ€”circling around and methodically creating a barrier between not only the viewer and the main monument, but between me and my own work. The Indian statuettes at the base of the middle piece have been carefully repainted from their original lifeless color schemes in an act of reclamation. The original objects appeared to be almost dead or ghostly, which is common when artifacting a culture that is assumed dead. Amazingly this happens even though American Indian culture is alive and well. The hatchet handle is made of wood (in a polished and processed form) and is literally trying to reconnect with the wood of the log, but it has to use a foreign method, the iron axe head, to achieve this. In the process the hatchet has partially destroyed the top of this log it is so desperately trying to reconnect with. The balloons are symbols of impotence and powerlessness, and the quill inked backwards is a symbol of an alternate way of writing history. The result is a hopefully intriguing mix of found objects with very specific purposes and execution.â€?
No National Monument, 2008, sand, wood, feather, ink, hatchet, balloons, found objects, gouache, dimensions variable
deanna skedel “Christopher Walken Would Rather Have A Tail is about believing in the magic of a supporting role—magic in the familiar looking; believable but not distracting.”
Christopher Walken Would Rather Have A Tail, 2009, tree and clear miniature Christmas lights, dimensions variable
jesse small â€œThe Bao Zhe Xing Xing series of chandeliers was created on a sign cutting machine in Jingdezhen, China. Because I developed these pieces using universal design software, I was able to interact with the sign cutter outside of spoken language. These pieces are the result of hand gestures and body language as much as they are about cerebral desires and intentions. Using photographs of trees that lived on my walk between studio and sign cutter, this series is a continuation of comparing the tree canopy form to the chandelier form. While it is typical for ornament to make direct albeit conceited and stylized reference to nature, my goal is to run natural form through a digital design and manufacturing process, creating a new degree of separation between nature and human built forms. The use of ornament represents our ongoing need to dominate nature not only in practice, but symbolically as well. My fundamental questions are: Whose ornament are you using? Whose definition of nature do you ascribe to? Is it possible to invent new modes of ornament in a postmodern format?â€?
Hao de Super Nova, 2009, abs plastic, dimensions variable
corine vermeulen-smith “What attracted me to landscape dioramas in museum settings is that they are supposed to be a realistic representation of nature but most of them appear overtly romantic. They depict a very safe and contained type of nature, an idealized version. At first glance they are sort of enticing, and I can imagine myself in one of these landscapes having a very comfortable experience, without the dirt and the bugs. But the thought that immediately follows is that this experience would ultimately be lifeless and complacent, very unsatisfying. What happened when I started photographing the dioramas, through the glass and without the edges of the window visible, is that the space became much more flat; the lens compresses it so you can’t tell anymore where exactly the props turn into painted background. It further diffuses the illusion of the diorama and makes the scenery very disorienting. Instead of portraying a serene landscape, they became kind of eerie, which I liked a lot. It comes back to that idea of a lifeless experience for the sake of convenience, which I think a lot of experiences are nowadays as almost everything is mediated.”
Untitled (Diorama 6), 2004, archival digital print, 38” x 38”
maranda stebbins “Winds of Change (Leopard in a Tree) marks a personal evolution in experimenting with traditional quilting methods of storytelling. Recognizing the cultural weight of quilt-making, as well as a personal need to create a multi-functional object that relates to issues of personal space and experience, this piece asks to be both a work of art and a piece of bedding. It incorporates a variety of fabric samples, including old sheets and several different types of camouflage, with patterns that reference nature in the form of tree textures, leaves, bark, and leopard spots, but which are conspicuously synthetic and phony. Stitching provides additional expression of the artist’s ‘hand’ as communicated once removed through a sewing machine. A tension between real and fake on an object that can provide comfort, warmth, and aesthetic beauty enhances the depth of the conceptual motives regarding change, death, and rebirth.”
Winds of Change (Leopard in Tree), 2009, fabric, approximately 7’ x 5’
davin watne “My painting’s subject matter is simply a snowy field that stands before a dark and impenetrable forest at night. The painting is heavily influenced by the book, ‘The World Without Us,’ by Alan Weisman. In this book, the author talks about a ‘Forest Primeval’—an old-growth and lowland wilderness that once stretched from Siberia to Western Ireland, which is now reduced to half a million acres in Northern Poland. This ‘Forest Primeval’ has piqued my imagination. The painting tackles our ancient fear of the ‘deep dark woods’ and our attempt to control it.”
Darkness, 2009, mixed media on canvas, 84” x 60”
jennifer whiteford “Portraits have characterized the famous, honored, and revered of our times. They assist in administering the identity of family members, pets, and former lovers, while defining the said identities of strangers. By and through these small fractions of time and space we build an understanding of lives lived. It seems that the members of our natural environment are deserving of recognition for all they have witnessed—many of them living longer than we may. Isolated at times, and surrounded by demanding environments at others, the trees of our environments often fail to draw our attention as we weave past green spaces in parking lots or along highways. And yet we reserve spaces for them in national parks, we climb them and swing from them as children, and we picnic under them with our dearest companions. Every limb of these trees is shaped by changing conditions. They twist, turn, and age. It seems that these branches and roots deserve examination from those who reap their benefits. These creatures hold many secrets, not revealed at first glance but slowly unraveled through careful attention to details. At times they surround us like crowds of familiar faces worthy of empathy, almost as silent, motionless stand-ins for those not in a position to be immortalized. While I am unable to uncover their complete identities, I may make an attempt to realize their lives lived. These photographs are intended not only to capture and preserve the identities of the trees themselves, but are also an effort to draw parallels between humans and our surroundings.”
Untitled (from Arborary Identities), 2009, c-prints, 12” x 15”
kurt flecksing “DiaLog is an opportunity for me to produce and facilitate a discourse in my community on the broad subject of trees. I intend to bring expertise, knowledge, and experience from the arbor culture community and the local arts environment together to form a place of information exchange. I have chosen this particular work partly due to the position in our local arts community that is afforded by the Urban Culture Project. I see it as critical and essential to a healthy arts community to have non-profit spaces that provide opportunities for non-commercial work. This is the place where transformation, re-assessment, and possibly dissolution of traditional sites of art exchange are more likely to happen. My decision to facilitate a form of learning and dialogue is based on my interest in engaging others from outside the arts community in experiences that help dissolve previous notions of art as commodity. At the same time, I wish to foster an environment that draws on the strengths of formerly disparate communities, hopefully presenting a new ‘ground’ for potential dialogue.” Dialog programs: Saturday, May 2, 2009, noon: Ivan Katzer – “The History of Arboriculture” Saturday, May 9, 2009, noon: Kevin Smith – “Urban Forestry and Pruning” Saturday, May 16, 2009, noon: Bob Haines – “How to Kill a Tree” Saturday, May 23, 2009, noon: Amy Bhesania & Bill Grotts – “Heartland Tree Alliance” diaLog, 2009, assorted woods, dimensions variable
hmh services “‘Crises are terribly important in the history of Capitalism. They are what I would call the irrational rationalizers of the system.’ -David Harvey Consider the disastrous financial year 1720, a year in which the largest corporations in France and Britain collapsed under the weight of feral greed, regulatory indifference, insider trading, and general cupidity. These swindles began with historically high levels of national debt (brought on by an unnecessary war) and were compounded by financial wizards who promised to retire that debt by repackaging it with regard to the products of a royal concession. In the case of France, it was the Mississippi Company and the Territory of Louisiana while the South Sea Company and the trade of the West Indies victimized Britain. For the Tall Grass Prairie Concession, we have re-imagined Hmh Services in the image of the Royally-Chartered Companies (RCC) but with our profits accruing to the culture at large. The RCC were products of their eventful times, coming at the dawn of the Enlightenment, the financial revolution and during the age of exploration. Their history offers analysis and is told in the documents of their action; whether it is the secret ledger of the South Sea Company or skepticism towards banks among the French people. Hmh Services, complete with the accoutrements of authority (flag, motto, great seal, uniform, arms, etc.), seeks the Tall Grass Prairie (TGP) as the land of our concession. Whereas the RCC had exclusive rights to the material resources ‘into, unto and from’ the land of their concession, Hmh is interested in harvesting the ‘Idea-Place’ to construct and share a mythic narrative. For instance Hmh Services wonders whether there is now but one single place in the TGP (located on what stands as the ‘official’ TGP National Preserve in central Kansas wherein most of the .03% of remaining TGP is, perhaps, found) where one can look in all directions and see nothing but sky and grass. The thought and image are foundational to our understanding of what it means to be an American. Is this image a myth of the past? As human culture we are confronted with concurrent Ecological and Economic crises. To navigate a future worth living, we must have a foundation to build upon—a history to believe in—a mythic story to find a place in. The business cycle is too short for this. The life of our country is too short for this. Modern history is too short for this. Biblical history is too short. Recorded history is too short. Our species is too young. A geologic time frame is necessary to tell the story where we (read: the human race) can fit in with something other than a villain’s role. Joan Didion famously wrote ‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live.’ The Prairie Ent 3 Buttonwood is the story Hmh Services is telling in Happy Tree Friends II. It is conceptually rooted in the narrative of the Tall Grass Prairie Concession, yet it stands alone. The Prairie Ent 3Buttonwood can be interpreted as a visual post-modern novel. The component parts function in a manner akin to literary details featuring allusions to setting, protagonists, villains, dramatic tension, love interest (sex), violence, fantastic creatures and realistic detail. Of course it is not a novel, though the book jacket blurb might read:
The Prairie Ent 3Buttonwood Imagine Hmh as a Royally Chartered Corporation. We propose the Tall Grass Prairie Concession to allay America’s problems; With the Prairie Ent to provide security; Responding to crises economic and environmental; The founding of the NYSE, a Buttonwood-style agreement; Associations, analysis and reference to Geologic time, Biblical writing and mythical creatures; Mossy stones to loiter on; Free Coffee and figs.” Praire Ent 3 Buttonwood, 2009, Sycamore, oil on gesso board, diamond matchsticks, wax, pen and pencil on vellum, museum board, cardboard, digital archival prints, mugs, coffee maker, coffee and figs, dimensions variable
ke-sook lee “Tree Woman recalls my memory and experiences of trees. I have made drawings of women on fallen leaves and bark that I have collected from hiking through woods where I find comfort and peace. Through Tree Woman, the sense of seeing, smelling, hearing, and feeling are offered to the audience. My educational background, in Korea, was based on Confucianism and Buddhism. While I attended a modern public school influenced by Western culture, a more than 5000-year-old shamanic culture was still practiced in the country. Many times, I saw the Mudang (female shaman) shaking her body under the big tree to connect to the spirit world. The trees were sacred and respected. During the Korean War, from 1950 to 1953, our country was beaten and burned by bombing. Our lives became harder with the shortage of supplies, food, and housing. People chopped down trees for heating, cooking, and creating shelter. After the war, we had a “Sig-Mok-Il” Holiday (A National Tree Planting Day) so we could all participate in replanting trees. Eventually, the mountains were once again covered with green leaves and trees. The country became cleaner and happier. These memories came to mind when I thought about Happy Tree Friends. I also thought about my grandmother and mother, as if they were “Mudang” female shaman, who shook their bodies so hard, to help my father who became disabled during the Korean war, keeping the house warm, nurturing the family and supporting their children’s education, no matter how little they had.”
Tree Woman Leaf, 2009, fallen leaves and mixed media, dimensions variable Tree Woman, 2009, tree bark, thread, fabric and acrylic, 14’ x 10’ x 10’
sarah vandersall “We apply a base layer of science over living things in order to contain and qualify them, but this need for inventory and explanation could be broadened past the empirical to the deductive experiential. When you climb a tree, human and tree are both standing in the same place; this experience is at once harmonious and unique to the differences in perception inherent to mammal state versus vegetative state. The scientific theories of observation and recording are so narrowly defined that only events, rather than experiences, are deemed worthy of note. If, however, we take a finite fact, like a tree’s rings being evidence of the tree’s molecular history, and push past the currently defined limitations, we could theorize that the tree is registering not just nutrients and climate but specific moments. In Finite Radius: Our Ra Half-Life-1600 Tree Recorder, tree and person are both recording events layer by layer. Practices such as carbon dating are no longer just determinates of age, but provide access to recordings of how it felt to ride down a tree-covered lane on a hot August day where the shade from the leaves is eight degrees cooler than the sun-scorched earth passing beneath your pedals. A band-width could transmit the record of every breath emitted by a climber racing his way to the top of a protected pine. Electrometers could record each millisecond the fog takes to dissipate and once again expose the branches to the sun. With these combinations of man-made materials we can record this folding-over of expediential connections for a total Tree Experience, creating a complete Tree Record where the imprints explaining how we all fit into our world can be saved for later, interchanging generations, able to realize the density of those connections.”
Finite Radius: Our Ra Half-Life-1600 Tree Recorder, 2009, mixed media, dimensions variable
b.j. vogt “...there was just one fact to quicken the pulse. That fact is the close similarity between chlorophyll and hemoglobin, the essence of our blood.” This is no fanciful comparison, but a literal scientific analogy: “The one significant difference in the two structural formulas is this: that the hub of every hemoglobin molecule is one atom of iron, while in chlorophyll it is one atom of magnesium.” Just as chlorophyll is green because magnesium absorbs all but the green light spectrum, blood is red because iron absorbs all but the red. Chlorophyll is green blood. It is designed to capture light, (whereas) blood is designed to capture oxygen.” —Excerpt from: Tree, a Life Story by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady, including a quotation from Flowering Earth by Donald Peattie. “Roots can be viewed as the beginning of the tree as they provide a stable platform from which the organism can obtain nutrients and grow, much like neurons can be viewed as the beginning point of thought throughout the body, though this idea of a beginning or base in both instances is only a half truth. Roots and neurons carry and transfer information in a complex network, whether it is a body or a forest. However, as they are parts of larger networks, they affect and can be affected by the other facets of those networks, as in a competition for space, an infection, or by variations in the amount of the reception of certain stimuli. By transporting information throughout the tree or body, thought and growth are instigated by the intake and processing of multiple forms of stimuli from diverse and often times distant sources. As information carriers, roots and neurons connect disparate nodes whose specific functions may vary, however their general purpose is very much the same: to transfer matter and energy from one place to another, or in other words, to live. In the forest a tree receives nutrients and information from the air and the soil via its leaves and root system. These nutrients and information are produced or provided, however, by a vast spectrum of sources outside of an individual tree, for example: other trees and fungi provide nutrients and information through mychorrhizal and root relationships, pollen, and pheromones (sending signals of infection, invasion, or disease), decomposing leaf litters or other organic matter leach nutrients into the soil, micro-organisms trap nitrogen and other elements and then release it back into the soil, even the shade of a neighboring tree casts shadows that block out a percentage of the available sunlight. Much like a root system, networks of neurons transport a variety of stimuli throughout the body. The experiences of touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste are all mediated through neurons as they pass from the location of the stimuli through the nervous system and into the brain. This stimulus shapes our memory along the way, capturing and cataloguing experience in order for the organism (we humans) to adapt, grow, evolve, and live. As a by-product we shape and interact with the environment at large, continuing a biological cycle that constitutes the processes which have created history.” Root, 2009, mixed media, 14’x14’x14’
chris wildrick “The Best Tree in the World is a project in which I attempt to find out which tree, out of all the trees in the world, is the BEST tree. There are many things that go into a tree’s relative bestness: its beauty, the number of its leaves, the quality of its shade, its climbability, its huggability, the degree to which it catalyzes the soil. I have investigated all of these characteristics and many more over the past several years. The projects in this exhibition include the results of several of the above, as well as some other avenues of research: a contest to see which tree is The Most Beautiful Tree of 2009; a collection of interesting tree-related websites; a collection of oral histories about the important trees in people’s lives; and a book that investigates the opposite pole of tree bestness by presenting some of the losers of the tree world. These projects, taken together, can hopefully act as the first glimmerings of evidence that will eventually lead to finding out which tree is in fact the best tree in the world.”
The Best Tree in the World: Center for the Collection and Promotion of All Wondrous and Odd Trees and Tree-related Things, 2007- present, internet project The Best Tree in the World: Learning from the Losers, 2009, photographic investigation documented in book form, 8.25” x 10” from The Best Tree in the World Huggability, 2004, performance documented through digitally-printed record albums, 30 albums, each 1’x1’ Leaf Count, 2004, performance documented through digitally-printed record albums, 26 albums, each 1’x1’ Shade Test, 2004, photographic investigation documented through digitally-printed record albums, 10 albums, each 1’x1’
Exhibition Checklist HAPPY TREE FRIENDS PART I Barry Anderson Epic Escapism (2), 2005 single -channel video with 5.1 surround sound Jeff Badger Reinscribing Rings, 2008 found electronics, paper, graphite, logs, dimensions variable Tree Ring, 2008 ink on paper, 24”x32” Thicket, 2008 graphite on paper, 24”x15” Sick Tree #2, 2008 acrylic and watercolor on paper, 9”x11” Carnal Torpor Try, 2009 tree, tree-derived media, paint, digital prints on canvas, 31”x93”x93 Julia Cole Embrace, 2009 performance featuring t-shirts printed with artist’s photographs; performers: Alicia Sciore, Charlie Mylie, Brie Blakeman Mark H. Cowardin Give and Take, 2009 wood, paint, metal leaf, and found tree parts, dimensions variable (multiple interior and exterior components) Jeanna Darby Adoration for Red and Esther Fox, 2008 c-print, 20”x20” This Level of Familiarity, 2008 c-print, 20”x20” Dominique Davison + Robert Riccardi Growth Rings - An Urban Dendochronology, 2009 digital print, 24”x36”
Kristina Estell Reconstruction, 2006 fabric and quilting pins, 72”x 36”x 1” Cari Freno Plug Tree, Jump Tree, Log Lay, Hold, all 2008 video Diane Henk Be Still, 2009 drafting film, tape, graphite, colored pencil, bookbinding thread on paper, 42”x35” Massive Pine, 2007 drafting film, tape, pencil, book binding thread on paper, 42”x 36” Michael Krueger Into the Blue (or Any Which Way But Loose), 2009 colored pencil, 31”x48” Monsters That Walk the Earth, 2007 colored pencil, 16”x 28” collection of William Tsutsui & Marjorie Swann, Lawrence, KS Hermits Delight, 2007 colored pencil, 11”x22” collection of William Tsutsui & Marjorie Swann, Hermits Return, 2006 colored pencil, 11”x22” Green River, 2007 colored pencil, 16”x28” Deadly Nightshade, 2008 colored pencil, 16”x28” Sarah Luther Raking Projects (1-9), 2006-2008 digital photographs, 5”x7” each Kacy Maddux Untitled, 2007 ink on paper, 28”x50” Untitled, 2007 ink on paper, 28”x50” Untitled, 2008 ink on paper, 28”x50”
Johnny Naugahyde Lincoln’s Favorite Log, 2006, watercolor on postcards, 3 ½x6 ½” Lincoln’s Log, 2009 watercolor on envelope, 3 ½x6 ½” Lincoln’s Log from Brokeback Mountain, 2006 watercolor on envelope, 3 ½x6 ½” Lincoln’s Log, 2006 watercolor on envelope, 3 ½x6 ½” A Floater, 2009 watercolor on envelope, 3 ½x6 ½” Lincoln’s Missing Log, 2009 watercolor on envelope, 3 ½x6 ½” Lincoln’s Stump, 2009 watercolor on envelope, 3 ½x6 ½” Lincoln’s Crossed Logs, 2009 watercolor on envelope, 3 ½x6 ½” Lincoln’s Log, 2006 watercolor on envelope, 3 ½x6 ½” Lincoln’s Log, 2009 watercolor on postcards, 6 ¾x5 ¾” Benjamin Potter Tracker, 2007 cut plastic bag on paper, 19”x 24” Gas, 2007 cut plastic bag on paper, 19”x 24” Freddy and Seth, 2006 cut plastic bag on paper, 19”x 24” Carlos Rosales-Silva No National Monument, 2008 sand, wood, feather, ink, hatchet, balloons, found objects, gouache, dimensions variable Shawn Sanem Locust I, II, III, & IV, 2009 ink on paper, 15”x21” each Margaret A. Shelby Sound Forest, 2009 video
Deanna Skedel Christopher Walken Would Rather Have a Tail, 2009 tree and clear miniature Christmas lights, dimensions variable Jesse Small Hao De Super Nova, 2009 abs plastic, dimensions variable Corine Vermeulen-Smith Untitled (Diorama 01), 2004 archival digital print, 46”x46” Untitled (Diorama 03), 2004, archival digital print, 46”x46” Untitled (Diorama 06), 2003 archival digital print, 36”x28” Untitled (Diorama 07), 2003 archival digital print, 36”x28” Maranda Stebbins Winds of Change (Leopard in a Tree), 2009 fabric, approximately 7’x5’ Davin Watne Darkness, 2009 mixed media on canvas, 84”x60” Jennifer Whiteford Untitled (1-6), from Arborary Identities, 2009, C-prints, 12”x15” each
HAPPY TREE FRIENDS PART II Kurt Flecksing diaLog, 2009 assorted woods, dimensions variable Hmh Services Praire Ent 3 Buttonwood, 2009 Sycamore, oil on gesso board, diamond matchsticks, wax, pen and pencil on vellum, museum board, cardboard, digital archival prints, mugs, coffee maker, coffee and figs, dimensions variable
Ke-Sook Lee Tree Woman, 2009 tree bark, thread, fabric and acrylic, 14’x10’x10’ Tree Woman Leaf, 2009 fallen leaves and mixed media, dimensions variable Sarah Vandersall Finite Radius: Our Ra Half-Life-1600 Tree Recorder, 2009 mixed media, dimensions variable B.J. Vogt Root, 2009 mixed media, 14’x14’x14’ Chris Wildrick The Best Tree in the World: Oral History, 2004- present interactive project documented through digital audio recordings The Best Tree in the World: Huggability, 2004 performance documented through digitally- printed record albums, 30 albums, each 1’x1’ Leaf Count, 2004 performance documented through digitally- printed record albums, 26 albums, each 1’x1’ Shade Test, 2004 photographic investigation documented through digitally-printed record albums, 10 albums, each 1’x1’ The Best Tree in the World: Learning from the Losers, 2009 photographic investigation documented in book form, 8.25” x 10” The Best Tree in the World: Center for the Collection and Promotion of All Wondrous and Odd Trees and Tree-related Things, 2007- present internet project
* All images courtesy of the artist unless noted below. Abby Rufkahr: page 17, 18, 21, 22, 29, 33, 41, 46, 50, 53, 57, 58 Robert Heishman: page 64, 67, 68, 71, 72, 75, 79
Charlotte Street Foundation (CSF) has a vision for the future of Kansas City: we see a vibrant city where artists are cultivated, respected, supported, and admired, a place where artists push and challenge themselves, their ideas, and their work; young artists come (and stay) for the quality of life, the availability of resources, the opportunities for professional development and advancement, and the community of kindred spirits. We see a thriving urban center where strong partnerships with regional and national arts institutions, organizations, critics, and practitioners give artists access to wider audiences and broader recognition. For more than a decade, Charlotte Street Foundation has been aggressively responding to the needs of artists and the grassroots arts community in the Kansas City area, establishing itself as a respected voice and reliable ally advocating on behalf of artists—heightening visibility for their work, developing structures and strategic partnerships to propel creative and professional development, leveraging arts activities to help revitalize the downtown area, and facilitating artist participation in the community’s continued growth. CSF places artists at the center of our mission and is informed by their involvement at all levels. It thus continually evolves in response to artist input and in relation to the city’s larger cultural ecosystem. Currently, Charlotte Street Foundation pursues its mission through several ongoing initiatives. We: • Provide annual cash awards to visual and generative performing artists; • Provide free studios and performance and exhibition spaces to theater, dance, music, film/video and visual artists as well as curators for the creation and presentation of new work; • Coordinate public exposure to exhibitions and performances by these artists, and facilitate artistic collaboration and exchange; • Provide educational and professional development opportunities for young, emerging, and mid-career artists of all disciplines and help to build a market for their work; • Advocate and plan on behalf of Kansas City artists and the arts community with philanthropic, business, and civic leaders; • Engage national philanthropic and cultural leaders with Kansas City artists and the arts community. Visit www.charlottestreet.org for more information.