Most Viewed Stories
Blue Trees project calls attention to global deforestation
Anne Fenkner, Greenprint regional coordinator at Sacramento Tree Foundation, is accepting site nominations in the Yuba-Sutter area (including park lands and schools) for possible placement of a blue tree.
For more information, contact Fenkner at 916-974-4333 or email@example.com.
For more information about the Blue Trees project, see sactree.org.
Fall's finally in the air, painting flora rust and gold — except at the northwest end of the Sacramento Convention Center, where the trunks and limbs of 20 young sycamores sport a coat of shocking ultramarine blue.
On 13th Street, the blue trees startle. Juxtaposed against the contrasting golden leaves, the blue wood offers a surreal, otherworldly and whimsical touch to the little esplanade separating the convention center from the K Street Mall.
A couple of Thursdays ago, the culprits were caught blue-handed.
Australian environmental artist Konstantin Dimopoulos, abetted by Sacramento Tree Foundation Director Ray Tretheway, working from a cherry picker, slapped the non-toxic paint on the trees. Blue paint spattered Dimopoulous' face — even his lower lip, like he had been sipping through a straw. Blue paint stained Tretheway's crisp white Sacramento Tree Foundation-logoed shirt.
"I try to get trees that are close together so that it's like walking into a cathedral — the trees become like pillars in a church," the artist explained.
"Normally, I start painting in the spring. With these," he gestured, "the leaves will disappear and then come back." The environmentally friendly paint lasts about six months to create a temporary public art installation.
With an international focus to call attention to global deforestation, Dimopoulos' hand has already marked trees in Melbourne, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; Vancouver, Canada; and Seattle, with his next stops scheduled for Gainesville, Fla., and Houston.
"The Blue Trees (project) is part of a wider question that I ask — 'Can Art Save the World?' Maybe not on its own, but it can generate thinking and discussion throughout the global community," Dimopoulos opined.
Plans are in the works to paint wood in New York, Boston, Liverpool and Vienna. Sacramento — California's City of Trees — is a perfect venue for his message.
"The project includes 40 container trees we painted, too," Tretheway said. "Ten heat-tolerant maple trees — a good regional choice — and 30 hybrid Dutch elm disease-resistant trees, to bring attention to the plight of our elms dying."
The container trees are making their way around the region, some serving as conversation pieces at events, others in for the long haul at 555 Capitol Mall.
"The Blue Trees are available to promote the project, from Galt to Marysville," noted Tretheway, a former Sacramento city councilman. (Check sactree.org for more information.)
"It's amazing how this project came together," enthused Shelly Willis, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission interim director and public arts director. "Last year, there was a little piece in Sactown Magazine about Konstantin's project, with a challenge to bring him here. The community came together, donating $25,000 to fly him from Australia and fund this project."
Public art stimulating community awareness about trees — it's a good fit here. But even without one cent of public funding for Blue Trees, some grumble the money could have been used for something else.
But what? Trees make cleaner air, and we need to breathe. Compared to the billions poured in to promote the upcoming election, Blue Trees smells like a sweet deal.