Hello fellow readers, Seeing the Forest through the Blue Trees by Konstantin Dimopoulos set the pace for the lecture series at the recent Woody Plant Conference held at The Scott Arboretum in Swarthmore, PA. Kon, born in Egypt to Greek parents, began his creation of brilliant blue trees in cities worldwide in 2003. First, in New Zealand, where he moved with his family at age eight.
It’s one of his many artworks “grounded in my sociological and humanist philosophies,” he explains on his website. “The Blue Trees, an ongoing environmental art intervention, uses a vibrant blue to transform living trees into a surreal environment. It speaks of the need to halt removal of the Old Growth Forests and Rainforests and to protect the trees we have.”
As Kon gave his passionate yet humble presentation, a slideshow of The Blue Trees scrolled behind him –the images startlingly contrasting the urban settings. He’s designed installations in Sacramento, Seattle, Albuquerque, Houston, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Singapore, Germany, and Australia, to name a few. The response of children captured in the slideshow was fairy-tale-like. Once small child’s excitement hugging a trunk could parallel an embrace of Cookie Monster, his color the same.
“Color has a way of opening our eyes,” Dimopoulos expounded. Then went on to say, “There’s a madness against nature,” referring to the reckless removal of trees and treatment of our world.
“We’re all crazy… what I’ve learned in a little less than sixty years,” his delivery tinged with humor amidst the seriousness of the assaults on our earth.
“We continue to be crazy despite what we learn from history.” Kon explained with a lift in his voice, “Just for the record, blue is not my favorite color (and) I am not an environmentalist.” Though it’s clear his thought-provoking art is inspired and motivated to bring to dramatic light serious ecological issues in hopes of impacting a positive change.
At first, the images of the volunteers painting trunks and limbs stirred my concern for the trees. Trunks must breathe, after all. Unease was quickly overcome as Kon shared that when the display was planned for London, they were required to prove the watercolor could quickly come off.
The exhibit was on the same street as motorcades for funerals should there be an emergency Royal event. They even painted themselves blue to demonstrate the nontoxic nature of the vibrant blue dye. While the blue on the trees can wash off with a quick hosing, in nature, it sheds more slowly rain after rain creating a gradual shift from the surreal to the natural beauty we too often take for granted.
Hopefully, The Blue Trees will leave behind the inspiration to respect nature’s gifts and motivate halting our forests’ devastation. “Unless we change the way we respond to nature, the bell will toll against all of us.” The ingenuity and wit of Konstantin Dimopoulos crescendoed with, “We Greeks know about tragedies. It’s in our DNA.” Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com
Column updated 6/20/22