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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Homegrown Art to Come to Southwest Garden's Streets

As part of the Southwest Garden Streetscape improvements along Vandeventer and Southwest, local artists Agnieszka Gradzik and Wiktor Szostalo will be providing the Southwest Garden neighborhood with one of their famed TreeHugger art installations.

From the artists:

The Tree Hugger project is an ongoing work of Environmental Art designed to help us re-discover our relationship with nature at a very personal and intimate level. Made from twigs, branches, sticks, vines, and other natural materials, these playful sculptures remind us that we humans are still very much a part of our natural surroundings.

The Southwest Garden's Communicator reports that the neighborhood will be purchasing one (they cost $1,500 each) while seeking donations to provide more throughout the neighborhood.

I am excited to see St. Louis artists' work being featured internationally. I've seen a TreeHugger at Forest Park's Earth Day Festival and found it intriguing and whimsical. It would be even better to see this art on a city street, where it would by default make St. Louisans stop and consider the wonderful effects of trees on their city. Whether it's shade, beautification, energy cost reduction, urban runoff collection, protection of pedestrians on sidewalks, raised property values, cleaner air...trees are heavy on benefits and low on costs.

I'm no tree expert, but the TreeHugger project forces me to ponder the state of St. Louis trees. The trees imported to the soon-to-be-opened Citygarden were relatively large. Yet the typical streetscape project includes trees so small and young that they're easily destroyed by the elements or vandalism. This is especially a problem on some of St. Louis's main streets. Ever see an aerial of the city? You can spot Kingshighway, Gravois, and others by their uninterrupted expanse of gray, contrasted from surrounding verdant residential neighborhoods.

Maybe the TreeHuggers can convince the city to spend the extra amount for more mature street trees that will one day tower over the streetscapes they're meant to improve.


Brian said...

I absolutely love this idea and would even be willing to chip in a few bucks toward the purchase of another one. How cool would it be to see several of these installed on one street, and what better showcase for local artists than our own city neighborhoods. Good job, SW Garden!

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