Blue Trees ~ 13th & K

“Trees are the lungs of the planet.” ~ Konstantin Dimopoulos

Last week, Sacramento, the City of Trees, became the fifth ‘Blue Trees City’ following the lead of Melbourne, Vancouver, Auckland and Seattle. Artist Konstantin Dimopoulos’ created the Blue Trees Project to call attention to global deforestation, particularly of old growth trees (1). Locally, this living outdoor art project also highlights the value of Sacramento’s remarkable urban forest (2).

The Sacramento Blue Trees Project includes 20 mature trees along 13th Street between J and K, and 40 container trees that will be placed in different locations around town during and then will be planted at the end of the project (3).

The Art:

“The Blue Trees takes an urban landscape with which you are familiar and changes it for a brief period of time so that it becomes something unfamiliar, a strange environment.” Konstantin Dimopoulos

The vibrant blue is created with a water-based, non-toxic, biologically safe pigment. Blue trees do not exist in the natural world, and so, like pink elephants, Dimopoulos creates a surreal environment that startles our perceptions and delivers an image that we cannot get out of our minds (4). For Dimopoulos, the blue symbolizes a sense of the sacred as well as, paradoxically, a lack of oxygen; for without the trees, we would not have breath.

Colossal has some stunning photos of the Blue Trees Projects from other cities.

The Artist:

“Through my work I am striving to address global issues and provide a visual platform to effect change. So many universal concerns seem larger than an individual’s power of influence and I want to evoke in people the idea that we can all contribute to change in a positive way.” ~ Konstantin Dimopoulos

Konstantin Dimopoulos creates social art installations where “human or environmental actions… become visual references” (5). This visual reference creates conversation, and from conversation, change can occur. The “Writings” section of his website includes some inspiring and moving writing about public art. In one particular piece, he describes public art as a physical entity that occupies and alters space. He speaks of nature as the “ultimate creative palate” and that artists are to echo that and make it visible.

Sacramento’s Trees:

“Trees are largely invisible in our daily lives, and it’s not until it’s too late that we realise how important they are to us both aesthetically and environmentally. Each year an area at least the size of Belgium of native forests is cleared from around the planet.” ~ Konstantin Dimopoulos

Sacramento is rich in trees. We enjoy more trees per capita than any other city (except maybe Paris). This urban forest needs tending to be maintained and thrive. Issues such as diversity in tree species and age, planting space, tree size, pruning methods, and disease prevention pose significant risks to our urban forest (6).

Sacramento Tree Foundation is a local non-profit organization working on many levels to help create the “best regional urban forest in the nation” and they were heavily involved in bringing the Blue Trees to Sacramento. Their many projects range from Free Shade Trees to a Seedling Growing Program to training local Tree Stewards. There are many ways to volunteer with the Tree Foundation and you can become a member to help support their great work.

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”    Mahatma Gandhi

Title: Blue Trees
Artist: Konstantin Dimopoulos
Date: 2012
Media: biologically safe pigmented water
Location: 13th between J & K

(Support for Sacrament’s Blue Trees Project involved numerous local organizations including: Sacramento Tree Foundation, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of CommerceDowntown Sacramento Partnership, and City of Sacramento, Urban Forest Division.)

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Sacramento Education Events for Art (SEEART)

Sacramento Education Events for Art (SEEART) is a local non-profit that has partnered with neighbors, businesses and the City of Sacramento to create quality arts and education programs including: Midtown Murals Project, Arts for the Generations, Mural Project Kids summer arts program, and The Legacy Trees Project (1).

The Midtown Murals project has a goal of organizing 12 new murals to enrich the identity of Midtown Sacramento. They write: “This identity will focus on Midtowns’ rich history, cultural diversification and natural artistic beauty” (2). Midtown Murals is funded solely through private contributions from local sponsors. Murals include Uptown Market at 17th & Capitol, Office Max tile mural on J Street, Mt Diablo Sunset near 21st & J, and the Alhambra Sweet Dream mural near 25th & J.

The Legacy Trees Project was organized by artists who work together to rescue special trees that are being cut down from the wood chipper or woodpile in order to distribute large pieces to local woodcarvers.

“The Legacy Trees Project was nurtured into existence by the Sacramento Art community’s desire to uncover a deeper understanding of the beauty and importance of historic trees in the city of Sacramento, by repurposing dangerous, diseased and dying trees felled by the city and property owners into works of art.” (3)

A 100+ year-old camphor tree at 18th & Capitol was recently cut-down and the wood was rescued for artists and craftspeople but I did not see reference to whether Legacy Trees was involved or not.