PEN&INKee^POSSIBILITIES:ee^Making a work of art in nature

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By Kirsten Laskey

There is art in nature – a setting and rising sun, a blooming flower, a floating cloud. In fact, art is all around us.

Sometimes artists take matters into their own hands to show people just how artistic nature can be. The natural world becomes the artist’s canvas to create an image. Robert Smithson shaped rocks into the “Spiral Jetty” in the Great Salt Lake, while Christo and Jeanne Claude have draped cloth material on various structures including a valley in Rifle, Colo., and islands off of Florida.

And just like all art, some people recognize these works as artistic creations in the natural world and others do not. For instance, Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude’s potential art project, “Over the River,” is causing quite a stir among the small communities along the Arkansas River in Colorado. Some people call the project innovative and creative while others simply scoff at the idea. Why mess with something that is already a work of art, they wonder.

This debate about whether to extend human artistic influences into nature seems to have reached Los Alamos as well. A section of open space in front of Mesa Public Library, which was sparsely littered with plants and usually covered in shade and pine needles, is undergoing its own artistic transformation into a skateboard park.

Construction equipment, cement and wood beams are modifying the environment to create a human artistic vision – a concrete installation with smooth straight lines, slopes and hills.

While upturned earth and a web of orange plastic fencing are signs that work is still in progress, there are a few signs of development. A scattering of pale gray geometric shapes have emerged along with a set of stairs that lead to a wide patch of dirt.

Is it art? Or is it just another example of humans barging in and spoiling the natural world?

That is up to the viewer. But there are some things about our outdoor art project that seem to make it different from the others.

The skateboard park is not to garner attention or to make money; it is being built for people’s enjoyment. It is art with a function. Anyone and everyone are allowed to maneuver around its sides, slopes and mounds.

And unlike “Spiral Jetty,” which disappeared into the Great Salt Lake’s waters and “The Valley Curtain,” which was torn by wind, the skate park is not a temporary show. It will be there for the public for a long time.

Beauty, is indeed, in the eye of the beholder, but I believe the reasons for creating the skateboard park make it a true work of art.