Ever heard the term “Guerrilla Gardening“?
This morning I experienced one of those “synchronicity” moments. I was admiring the photos of a most talented young man, Mathieu Young (from Chico originally but now of L.A. and the world) and came across a “Guerrilla Gardening” video he shot.
Interestingly, I had a related discussion over the weekend with a CSUC student who came to help with our W. Lindo GRUB Community Garden (we built compost bins).
So just what is it? According to Wikipedia, “Guerrilla gardening” is gardening on another person’s land without permission.” It’s not a brand new concept; witness Johnny Appleseed way back in 1800. The earliest recorded use of the term guerrilla gardening was by Liz Christy and her Green Guerrilla group in 1973 in the Bowery Houston area of New York, who transformed a derelict private lot into a garden.
There are plenty of vacant lots in Chico that could stand a little beautifying (as there are in any town). I happen to think edible plants and fruit-bearing trees are as lovely as ornamental, with the added benefit of being, well, edible!
“Guerrilla Gardening” in L.A.-Mathieu Young
A short video on Guerrilla Gardening, Directed by Mathieu Youngon
It’s hard not to notice this John Pugh mural if you spend any time in downtown Chico. Located on the corner of 1st Street and Broadway (on Taylor Hall, which houses the University Art Gallery), it was Pugh’s first mural, painted in 1980-81 when he was a CSUC student.
Pugh went on to create more than 200 large-scale “trompe l’oei” (“trick of the eye”) murals across the United States, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
Rather than simply paint a realistic-looking series of columns, Pugh was influenced by a dream to “break open” the wall on Taylor and “fill this fictive space with relevant narrative creations — intended to engage the viewer on deeper levels.”
The fate of this well-loved mural (also known as “Academe”) currently hangs in the balance as plans to demolish the building are underway. There has been much debate about preserving the mural, whether in its current location (can’t we just keep THAT wall?) or elsewhere on campus. I will post an update on the status when I can.
I feel honored to live in a place that has been named one of America’s “Best Art Towns*,” and I think Mr. Pugh’s artwork has much to do with that distinction! (Check out these photos of Pugh’s murals.)
* Author John Villani named Chico #10 in his book The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America!
While cruising over to the Doe Mill neighborhood a while back (where Potter Rd. meets E. 20th St., Chico, CA), I noticed a very interesting work of public art I hadn’t seen before. It resembled some sort of gears forming an archway over a bike path. Being me, of course I had to stop, cell phone camera in hand, to check it out.
Turns out it is the “Steve G. Harrison Memorial Arch” monument, one of a pair built by local metal artist Jeff Lindsay (Red Hot Metal Inc.) and installed in November of 2010. (Mr. Lindsay was also the creator of the lovely metal Manzanita bridge sculpture over Big Chico Creek as well as Annie’s Glen bike tunnel.)
Steve Harrison was the original employee at the now-world-famous local Chico landmark, Sierra Nevada Brewery, to which he devoted the last 27 years of his life. In addition to being an avid cyclist, Steve was known for his commitment to “progressive causes related to social justice, environmental sustainability, smart growth, economic opportunity and universal health care.” I think this monument is a fitting memorial to someone who appears to have been a pretty amazing human.