Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, November 3, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 11



 Mountain Views News Saturday, November 3, 2012 

One Of A Kind: Featuring unique homes and gardens and the people who create them 

Story by Chris Bertrand Photos courtesy of The Los Angeles Arboretum


100 Artists Turn Downed Trees into Works of Art for 
Arboretum Fundraiser

From November 30-December 2, the Los Angeles Arboretum will offer a unique collection of art 
giving new life to the hundreds of trees felled in last winter’s horrendous windstorm.

According to the Arboretum’s website, “From the ruins of last December’s windstorm comes Forces of 
Nature, an exquisite collection of art created from fallen trees. Beautiful sculptures, furniture, bowls, 
jewelry and other wood works will be on display at the Arboretum from November 30 to Dec. 1. More 
than 100 artists, artisans and Art Center students were invited in April to participate in this special commemoration to the 235 
trees toppled by the winds up to 80 mph. The artists are donating their work to the Arboretum. The art will be sold at a live 
and silent auction at a special evening reception on November 30. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Arboretum 
Tree Fund.”

In an interview this week, the exhibition’s curator and Arboretum artist-in-residence, Leigh Adams, reflected on the nearly 
yearlong process that brought this unique event to fruition.

“Last November 30, we had hurricane force winds here in the San Gabriel Valley,” she said. “The Arboretum lost 235 trees and 
a thousand more were damaged. The storm took a chunk out of the legacy of the Arboretum, which span not only historical 
Los Angeles, but 20,000 years of Native America history, the ranching and mission eras, as well as contemporary Los Angeles.”

Adams came in immediately after the storm and 
suggested that artists use the wood to generate 
funds to replenish the collection. While the idea 
was innovative, the Arboretum had a crisis on its 

The Arboretum, scheduled to be open to the public 364 days a year, was faced with being closed until it was safe to use again. The 
clean up job was huge. 

Adams chuckled a bit, remembering her first approach to the Arboretum CEO on her idea. “Richard was actually astonished when 
I came in right after the storm and said, ‘Let’s do art instead.’ But he’s a very insightful man, and said he would talk with me about 
this later.”

A full two months later, the meeting and the planning for just such a project, of turning downed trees into art began, on Adams’ 
birthday as she recollects with a smile. The CEO’s assignment, “We’d like you to curate the exhibit,” was likely one of the best birthday 
presents an artist like Adams could receive.

As it turned out, the intervening two 
months since the storm had brought a 
flood of phone calls from woodworkers 
of every kind, with inquiries about 
acquiring some of the up to 150 year old 
hardwoods defined often as rare, exotic, 
and even downright unavailable on the 
open market. 

Also particularly notable, was that this 
wood was not already cut into planks, 
or milled. It was raw. An artist’s dream.

Adams’ idea evolved and advanced 
quickly, and eventually over 100 artists 
were chosen to participate in the event. 
The Board of Supervisors eventually 
agreed to authorize that the mountain 
of debris would bemade available for 
the exhibit.

This week, as Hurricane Sandy roared 
into the Northeast, a call came in from a 
New York museum. Faced with a similar 
impending loss, they inquired about the 
Forces of Nature project to help fund 
the recovery fund, as well as to honor 
the trees that were lost.

The results have been truly breathtaking, 
according to Adams. Fifteen pieces came from a group of Art Center students, when their professor posed the 
challenge to his artist students. “I led the students through the Arboretum on their first visit,” said Adams, “explaining 
the value of an arboretum to the community… as a library to study whether a particular plant will thrive in your 
home environment, as a source of ancient and recent history with the Native American, Mission era adobe and the 
Queen Ann cottage.”

Then I took them into the sun, and let them get a bit warm, to point out that we’d lost not only our history, but our 
cooling canopy and our collection.”

These students’ extraordinary work is on display in the Arboretum library right now, and will be part of the show and auction at the end of the month.

One of the adult artists chosen to work on “Force of Nature” is Charles Dickson, also the artist in residence at Watts Towers in Los Angeles. A multimedia sculptor and three dimensional artist, Dickson 
originally planned to make a three part flower form from a portion of a 70-80 year old Hawaiian Ear Pod tree felled at the Arboretum. The enormous trunk was six feet across. 

As Dickson’s artistic bent took hold, the wood turned instead into three thrones. Dickson is still at work 
onsite at the Event Lawn, gathering a crowd of young and old as he works. Now Dickson is adding to the 
grouping. Inspired by the wildlife that surrounds him at work there, Dickson is adding wood peacocks, 
turtles and birds around the thrones. Adams said the works are constantly a site for visitors staging 
photos now.

Another of the artists, Ramon Rodriguez, a Latin American artist based in Long Beach, was THE 
hundredth artist chosen to participate. The Bolivian native feels a tremendous reverence for nature, 
especially trees. “I really wanted to continue the cycle of the trees; to create art from the mystery of the 
wind and these trees.”

Rodriguez’s work created of Acer Buergiana, a Chinese native also known as a Trident Maple, duly 
became “Mysterious Wind” while his second donation, made of Montezuma Cypress or Taxodium, is 
aptly named “Storm Sentiment.” The Rodriguez family, also musicians, will perform Bolivian folk music 
in the language of the Incas, as part of the event.

“Forces of Nature” promises to be an event to remember… and to continue for years to come!

For more information on the “Forces of Nature” Artists Exhibition, Auction and Sale, visit www. To attend the special live auction and evening reception November 30, contact Brittany 
Fabeck at 626.821.3237 or

Turning Downed Trees Into Extraordinary Art

Ramon Rodriquez - Mysterious Wind (Viento Misterioso

Gonzalo Algarate - In The Womb


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