Sept. 26, 2011 (ShapeShiftas) -- There have been giant Tonka Trucks and prehistoric-looking excavators driving up and down Stony Brook Road for many days now, it's almost as noisy as mid-town Manhattan would be this Monday morning. I don't care about the environmental implications of burning all this fuel and moving gravel from there to here, just to get our road fixed before it snows. All I want to know is -- can I drive one???!
It must take some real skill to operate these huge machines. Those claw arms can pick up boulders and then almost daintily lay them in precise spots. They have put Stony Brook back (almost) where it was and lined the banks with the eponymous stones that washed down with the rest of the road. It's still hard to realize that our picturesque mountain brook wreaked such havoc and destruction, and it's been really cool to watch them put it back together. They are terraforming our ruined landscapes.
(Terraforming is a word I have learned through all my science fiction reading, most notably the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, I think he called it "areoforming" since it's Mars. A great read for you sci-fi heads out there.)
Watching these machines at work, I understand the inspiration for Spiral Jetty, the famous earth-artwork by Robert Smithson. Seeing this work is a long-held desire of mine, especially since it has re-emerged from the Great Salt Lake in recent years due to drought. (I wonder if Mormons believe in climate change?) There is a lot of debate as to whether it should be restored, shored-up for the high-water times. I kind of like that it disappears & reappears as the Earth changes. To me, that is the art in the work.
I long to make a really BIG outdoor piece someday, but I haven't figured out how to do it with fabric, my current medium of choice. I loved The Gates by Christo & Jeanne-Claude and wish I had thought that up, or at least could have worked on it (they hired locals to sew the banners). Lots of people didn't like it, but I thought it was one of the best things I ever saw in New York (and that is saying a lot).
What was so striking about The Gates, besides that it cost $20 million and was up for only three weeks or so, was the saffron orange color, like the color of Buddhist monks' robes, standing there and bearing witness to Central Park in the grey-and-black of February. Perhaps that is why many people didn't like the piece -- it did force a feeling of contemplation when you walked through. People slowed down; this was a good thing for some but tough on others.
And, what I've been noticing while watching the terraforming of Stony Brook Road, is the orange, and all the majestic colors, of the turning leaves. The colors make even this disaster look beautiful. Here are our turning trees, the ones still standing still bearing witness to the Earth's changes.
PS -- This next weekend should be peak color, I think. The Fall Foliage season is upon us, and we all hope lots of you "leaf-peepers" come to Vermont. Many local businesses are counting on you, come visit and go shopping! (Just like GW Bush advised after 9/11.) I am hoping you will come out for Art in the Park in Rutland Oct. 8-9, find ShapeShiftas' booth and say "Hi." We'll be selling a special-edition pillow for flood victims relief, along with other pieces from the line.