The Arbor Ballet dances through COCC’s upper campus

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Two of many trees that were decorated with tutus around COCC’s upper campus. Lessick wanted to emphasize the various kinds of trees around the campus arboretum, “the tutus are a manifestation of that dance.”

By Katya Agatucci | The Broadside (Contact: kagatucci2@cocc.edu)

In the last two weeks, there have been pastel-toned tutus placed around the trees in the upper part of Central Oregon Community College campus. Believe it or not, there is a specific reason why they were placed there.

COCC’s entire campus was designed to be a large arboretum, a large space of land dedicated to a certain placement of different kinds of trees or shrubs.

Helen Lessick, the featured artist of the month at Pence Gallery, wanted to highlight that aspect of COCC’s campus as part of her one-person exhibition. “Part of what I wanted to do with the arbor Ballet is draw attention to the extraordinary trees on campus. It’s the idea of honoring what’s here in Bend,” she explained.

There are over 80 tree species on COCC’s Bend campus.

Lessick mentioned that she has been interested in working with trees for three decades. “The importance of the show is that it’s the 30th anniversary for the ‘House of Summer’. It’s a living tree sculpture that is in the Portland arboretum; there are 15 Birch trees that are planted in a row in a rectangle. The layout of the show reflects that.”

Within one drawing, Lessick embodied what a season is within a piece containing four different houses [see pictured].

This drawing was used as a proposal to make the “House of Summer”, which is a large part of her exhibit and the only permanent piece she has made in the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Or.

To create an interactive space around the permanent piece in Portland, Lessick started hosting events and performances after it was made. To this day, the piece is used for weddings, educational centers for children, and picnics.

Lessick’s one-person show features canvas photographs of interactive tree projects in Portland and Santa Monica, wood pieces, watercolor paintings, mirrors that were once used for a project in California, and paper mache-wrapped acorns.

Every piece shown has value and meaning that associates with trees. In explaining the meaning of her work as a whole, Lessick said, “That dapple light of being under a canopy, for all of these [art pieces], I’m trying to get people to see the movement and light within my work. The whole room is a canopy.”

Lessick explained that within her various pieces,from real trees to a water color still painting,she wants to understand the science and physique of trees.

“A tree is an inspiration,” she said. “Often we see paintings of trees, but I’m really interested in the process of trees and the notion of a tree museum, which is what an arboretum represents.”

The first showing of Lessick’s work premiered on Oct. 5. at 5 p.m. starting with an artist talk and a panel with Dr. Rebecca Franklin from the Forest Resources Department.

This exhibit will be available for viewing Monday to Friday until Oct. 30 in the Pence Pinckney Gallery.

For more information on Lessick’s work, visit http://helenlessick.net/art_menu.html. For additional information on the one person exhibits in the Pence Pinckney Gallery, contact William Hoppe at whoppe@cocc.edu. ■

 

 

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