How art is being used to fight forest fires

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by Jay Crandall

azfamily.com

Posted on February 12, 2013 at 10:47 PM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- You might call Arizona's forests some of mother nature's best works of art.

But after several seasons of devastating wildfires, the forests are in need of some major restoration.

“We have had major catastrophic fires up there,” said Pat Graham, “Names like Rodeo-Chedeski, and Wallow.”

And Graham, State Director of the Nature Conservancy, said that is why the conservancy has come up with a new way to fight fire -- with art, “It is different. So i think people are a little bit surprised that the Nature Conservancy is sponsoring an art gallery. “

Tucked into an Old Town Scottsdale storefront, grows a wooded wonderland of sorts.

“For the most part here we just love the opportunity to be able to reflect the value and the beauty of our forests, the diversity of our forest through artwork, “ said Graham,

And while Ed Mell paintings, intricate sculptures, and stunning photos are designed to draw visitors in, there is more to discover in this pine scented space, said Graham, “The idea was to raise awareness about the plight of our forests. We have got some real challenges with our forests. Many of them are very unhealthy.”

Graham said the traditional model of thinning big trees and leaving undergrowth has contributed to the horrific fires we've seen.

“Today we have gotten used to this dense thicket and we think that is natural. So thinning it out makes us feel a little bit uncomfortable at times. But that is the only way we are going to re-set the clock here.“

Meaning visitors will also see tree rings, showing a century of growth, through healthy times and bad, learn about the effects of fire on our water, and see products made from small diameter trees.

Highlighting the importance of healthy forests, the goal according to Graham, “We want a forest that is healthy for wildlife and for watersheds when we are done. “

And the Gallery is designed to get people talking about ways to do that, and visitors are not the only ones thrilled with the gallery, local artists eagerly joined the effort, Graham notes, “They loved the idea, obviously with their connection to wood they have a deep appreciation. And it is interesting some of the artists have been impacted by fires in their areas.”

Their work is creating a perfect backdrop for a discussion on defending our forests, according to the Nature Conservancy, “Create an opportunity, really a gathering place for people to come and learn and talk about the future of their forests,” said Graham.

Many of the artworks are for sale through the individual artists.

Restoring Arizona’s Forest Gallery
Open everyday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
7056 East Main Street, Suite 2
Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona: A Walk in the Forest Gallery


 

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