Inspiration: Urban Trees was inspired by a variety of sources.
Dr Suess's Lorax: When I was a kid, I was inspired by the Lorax's long-view, anti-industrial stance and his eloquent pleading; "'I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.' 'Look Lorax," I said, "there's no cause for alarm. I chopped just one tree, I am doing no harm.' "
The Lorax ©Dr Suess
The Group of Seven and Algonquin Park. In my youth I was lucky enough to travel extensively through Algonquin Park by canoe. It was a truly awe-inspiring experience to wander through the same environment that nurtured these seminal Canadian artists. Through these experiences, I developed a visual and spiritual affinity for trees that remains with me to this day.
Click here for more information on A.J. Casson
In the late 1990s I viewed the documentary R. Crumb. In the film the artist, who does not drive, describes a time when he pestered his friend into driving him around town "to take pictures of ordinary street corners in modern America. This has been indispensable to me. You can't remember these things to draw them. These modern light poles... and all this junk that is on every suburban street. You can't make this crap up, it is too complicated. In the real world this stuff is not created to be visually pleasing. It is just an accumulation of the modern industrial world that people don't notice. They just block it out.” Since that time, I have be periodically photographing and painting the massive variety of overhead transmission systems for hydroelectricity and communication.
Short History of America © R. Crumb ( Click on the picture to enlarge.)
Short history of America. 12 panel animation
In early 2006 I attended an exhibition of the exemplary work of the Canadian collective Drawn Onward. I was inspired by David Marshak’s many depictions of utility poles. Through Marshak's paintings I saw the relationship between the urban blight he depicts and the notion of nature depicted in the works by the Group of Seven. It is interesting to note that the building depicted in Painting #17 is the R.L. Hearn Generating Plant. Up until 1964, when it was surpassed by the Toronto Dominion Tower, this smokestack was the tallest man-made structure in Canada. Today it is the tenth.
Painting #17 ©David Marshak
In early 2006 I met the awesome team at Urban Tree Salvage. The service they perform for the environment and their customers is outstanding. Check out their web site:
Tree removals create debris, which normally gets chipped and put back into the growing environment in the form of mulch. For those pieces that do not become mulch, they are either burnt, laid to rot or trucked to a landfill. If these trees are so valuable to us, why do we not use them to their full potential? At Urban Tree Salvage, we are striving to change these ways by milling and kiln drying our fallen urban trees and selling them back to the marketplace as usable lumber.