Beginning Sunday, Nov. 19, visitors to the Wolf River Greenway will experience a new view just inside Germantown’s western border.
The Public Art Commission is preparing to open “Shelby Canopy: Our Shared Connection.” The temporary art installation includes visual and audial elements. Those visiting the Greenway this week will catch a glimpse of trees tinted blue. Caution tape blocking the area of work will be removed by Sunday.
It’s the suburb’s first public art installation since adopting its Public Arts Master Plan more than two years ago.
“The deliberateness the Public Art Commission took in wanting to see this first large-scale public art project, I think we chose wisely,” said Alderwoman Mary Anne Gibson, the board’s liaison to the commission. “It is bold by nature. This beautiful electric blue that is certainly not found in nature — it speaks to what we do value, our natural resources.”
Konstantin Dimopoulos, the artist of this worldwide project, created it to bring awareness about deforestation and the significance trees have to all people.
He said each installation is slightly different. This is the 36th city to display blue trees, but it’s the first one done in a forested area, he said.
“Trees are disappearing. That impacts our ability to breathe whether you’re in Memphis or northern Australia,” Dimopoulos said. “We’re only one world. … If (trees are) in Brazil, they should belong to all of us because they do something for everyone.”
Although Dimopoulos is on-site, volunteers are helping roll the colorant on the trees. The safe pigment is like a liquid chalk and will be on about 150 trees on a loop along the Greenway.
Cat Peña, Germantown’s public art manager, said the city has worked toward the project for about three years. The city’s natural resources staff helped determine which trees were safe to apply the temporary pigment. They checked the health of the trees several times, including a month ago, to determine if it was safe.
The commission not only wants to make art accessible but also imagine art beyond traditional mediums. This one is more of an experience, Peña said.
“We are definitely challenging people to experience things in different ways,” she said. “For our first big project, we are really pushing people to explore.”
The project doesn’t just benefit Germantown, but trees benefit the entire community and Memphis’ water quality, Peña noted. Although the project is in Germantown, the name “Shelby Canopy: Our Shared Connection” was intentionally chosen to showcase the benefit to the community.
“Natural resources know no boundaries,” Peña said.
This week, there will be school visits, and Dogwood Elementary, Farmington Elementary and Riverdale School will hear more about the blue trees and have a few tinted trees on their campus.
Although the blue trees are the main draw, there is an audio element to Shelby Canopy. Near the colored trees, 60 wind chimes are hung along the trail. There are six notes, and each note is played by 10 of the chimes. Carpenter Art Garden, Overton Park Conservancy, Lamplighter Montessori School and Crosstown High School were part of the project. The audio tour will include children talking about their relationship to trees and meditation.
“When they chime, they have a very specific scientific chorus, and it’s very calming,” Peña said. “The science of the tones is specific to the length of the pipe and where the hardware is within it.”
The project is valued at $130,000. Germantown received a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to cover the blue trees installation and the chimes. The city matched $52,000 as an in-kind contribution, and the remaining $28,000 came from the suburb’s public art budget.
Signs with a QR code will help visitors learn more through an audio tour in English or Spanish. There will also be transcripts in each language. It will also explain the project and include ways for people to be involved.
The color should last about six months but largely depends on the weather patterns. However, the cooler weather is bringing pedestrians and bikers along the paved path past the display.
“To walk through it, when it’s just you, your creator and natural resources — it’s spectacular,” Gibson said.
This article was originally published at “dailymemphian.com“