Another point of view on art or litter

Today I went back to Tree Futures with a ladder to make sure everything was as it was supposed to be – unvandalized, not drooping, etc. Which it was.

This time I encountered a different neighbor who asked if it was my work. He had called the park department: he and his neighbors felt the art was fine but it should be where there was more man-made disturbance like down in the playfield. He said this “side trail” was “one of the last places like this left in Seattle” and it should remain wild . He said he liked the art work, but  thought it was in the wrong place and the uplands should not be part of the exhibit. He also felt it encouraged tagging, graffiti and vandalism. He clearly thought I had spray-painted the green arrows on the tree in the middle of the trail, which also has the corrugated cardboard wrap up higher. I said I had seen the Water Department marking the site which I found shocking. (When I was there measuring trees I had encountered two workers tracing the sewer lines. They had sprayed the tree, a part of the trail and two manhole covers now covered in seasonal vegetation.) I’m distressed that people might logically assume I was responsible.

I’m completely sympathetic to the argument that wild places should be left alone. I didn’t argue that Carkeek Park is not in fact pristine wilderness (having been logged, farmed, mined etc. in the past), but the feeling is completely understandable. This gives me new and uncomfortable feelings about my own choices — I went for the best grove of trees with the best branch clear-heights for the work, with the full knowledge that it’s a temporary installation.

I wonder how many neighbors have altered Andy Goldsworthy installations?