Colorado Land Art

On seeing the Forest for the Trees

An environmental sculpture

BRECKENRIDGE – July 4, 2012

With the grueling Firecracker 50 Bike Race set for the Fourth of July, dozens of riders were training hard on the days leading up to the event, and many were wondering about a bunch of dead lodgepoles dancing around the woods next to the Moonstone Trail – one of the lower sections of the 50-mile course.

These long, thin skeletons of pines were growing into piles, being re-erected, swung around and eventually stacked up in an ordered manner. And if any mountain bikers stopped to ask, they found out a team of artists were manipulating the forest landscape and causing the animation.

By race day, a 48-foot sculpture screened off part of the forest, blocking most of one’s off-trail view, so that viewers would have a heightened focus on what is visible. The piece, called Forest for the Trees, is a naturally tapering pile of carefully selected trees with a central portal. The nearby forest is littered with dead and down lodgepole, plenty of live trees: pines, spruce and more lodgepole. The scene is visually complex and naturally disordered. The sculpture is a distinct contrast to the chaos, and a break from the visual clutter.

All materials are natural and the installation seems to be built with as little human interference as possible, although it took days of work to make it look so simple. The cut ends of the trees form a central portal and make a naturally bright, unweathered border. At about 2:30 in the afternoon and also near sunset, they glow with sunlight.

The town of Breckenridge commissioned artists Steuart Bremner and Terry Talty to make the piece, and it was completed with the mental and physical help of Arts District director Jennifer Cram, money from the Public Art Commission and approval from the Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Commission. Visit Bremner’s website, to see more images of Forest for the Trees.