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Dan Karp
An interpretive portrait of the White Oak Tree on the campus of Bard College at Simon's Rock by Simon’s Rock photography faculty Dan Karp. The 264-year-old oak is to be celebrated during Daniel's Art Party.

Daniel’s Art Party at Simon’s Rock: Celebration of a tree

By Monday, Mar 4, 2019 Arts & Entertainment

First, a shout out to Mr. Scribner for going along with the gag of letting me write a column about my perceptions of my new, chosen home, the Berkshires. My longtime home of Los Angeles may never see me again.

This column will put a spotlight on some of these special folks who are part of this community that I’m charged with engaging in unique, creative projects. With my dear friend Sandy Cleary, former director of the Daniel Arts Center, we created Daniel’s Art Party. It is evolving into a multimedia arts program, based on the beautiful campus and highly specialized vortex that is Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

After June 2018’s rambunctious, inaugural festival of entertainment, we’re using our 2019 season as a more of a laboratory to further define our company’s mission, to refine our artistic interests, to grow community partnerships and to develop a sustainable infrastructure for our next season of offerings. We’re calling this aspect of our program DAP LAB. We’ll experiment and workshop ideas and new material, exploring and establishing our unique place in the community.

Right now, the DAP LAB project in my sights is a party that we’re throwing for a tree. I’ve not thrown a party for a tree before, but this one is quite deserving. It’s a 264-year-old, majestic white oak tree sharing the grounds of the architect Hugh Hardy’s gorgeous, though currently in woeful disrepair, Liebowitz Center, near the corner of Alford and Hurlburt roads. It’s the pride of the Simon’s Rock College.

Starting my research into effective tree-engagement, I met with the director of development for Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Rich Montone, and the Great Barrington Tree Committee’s chair, Holly Hamer. Rich, who was the development director at Simon’s Rock, is well aware of our white oak, and reminded us that this tree has lived through the deforestation and reforestation of this area. I’m curious to know how, as so much of the area’s beautiful trees were downed.

This formidable oak tree caught the attention of Kristin Jones, a New York City-based artist who photographs trees over a 24-hour period, in 15-second intervals, to create a time-lapse “video.” Kristin’s mission is “…to encourage and contribute to the conservation, protection and environmental stewardship of trees, and ultimately to draw attention to the extraordinary invisible ecological systems of the natural world and help to ensure their care into the future.”

Surrounding Kristin’s creative process, which begins at dusk on Friday April 19, we’ll be inviting the community to participate in playful tree-centric events. On the afternoon of Saturday April 20, folk musicians, storytellers, craftspeople and conservation warriors will commune to bring attention to this tree that is in need of some preservation/TLC.

Along with BNRC and Great Barrington’s Tree Committee bringing fun and favors to the party, Allen Timmons, the tree house architect at Backyard Heirlooms, will be there with his very special tree house models on display, imparting some of his considerable arborist knowledge. More featured guests will be added daily, so check the danielsartparty.org for info.

Come to the party!

Next week, we’ll let you know how these beauties will be making their video art debut.

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