South Lake Tahoe, CA… The temporary public artwork Reading Forest was installed on May 17-18 outside Taylor Creek Visitor Center in South Lake Tahoe. The artwork will remain in place until November. Part visual and part literary art, Reading Forest invites the public explore concepts about resilience, ecological change, and science-based management of Lake Tahoe’s forests.
Artist Todd Gilens created Reading Forest in collaboration with the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership. The project is 38 circular drawings representing a grove of trees, adhered to the pavement across a 10,000 square foot area.
Borrowing scientists’ method of reading tree rings to understand the past, these drawings hold phrases from science, anthropology, poetry, and other sources, as if trees have thought of them over many years’ time. The project joins scientific language with other descriptive methods, inviting viewers to consider forest health and society’s role from multiple perspectives.
Local students from Shaina Lucas’s second grade class of Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s Elevated Digital Academy joined artist Todd Gilens on a socially distanced site visit during the installation. The students learned about the intersection of art and science and created their own tree ring art to understand how they too can read the forest.
Reading Forest was commissioned by the National Forest Foundation and the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership (LakeTahoeWest.org). The project is funded by a grant from the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, Fire and Aviation Management Cooperative Fire Program.
The Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership is a collaborative effort to restore the resilience of forests, watersheds, recreational opportunities, and communities on 59,000 acres of Lake Tahoe’s west shore. Partners include the Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit; California Tahoe Conservancy; California State Parks; Tahoe Regional Planning Agency; Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station; Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board; National Forest Foundation; and Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team; along with two dozen stakeholders and the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. Lake Tahoe West covers more than one-third of the Lake Tahoe Basin, a landscape stretching from the shoreline to the ridgetop, from Emerald Bay north to Tahoe City.
Focused around environmental themes and aligned with current scientific research, Todd Gilens’ projects of the last 15 years have been seen as buswraps on San Francisco public transit, on building facades at the University of California, Berkeley and Stockholm University, and on sidewalks in Reno, among other places.