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September 19, 2000


UMBC's Fine Arts Gallery is partnering with 21 organizations to produce the Joseph Beuys Tree Partnership, a far-reaching visionary program inspired by artist Joseph Beuys' 7000 Oaks project, where 7000 trees were planted in Kassel, Germany from 1982 to 1987. On Saturday, October 28 and Saturday, November 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 100 trees will be planted and a stone will be placed at Carroll Park and Patterson Park, respectively. A dedication ceremony/celebration will follow each planting. Other tree plantings at Wyman Park Dell (12 trees and one or more stones) in Baltimore City and at UMBC (30 trees and stones) will take place in spring 2001, along with a panel discussion and all-day conference on "Social Sculpture, Beuys and Greening Initiatives in Baltimore." All of the plantings are open to the public; call (410) 455-3188 for information on participation.

In anticipation of the fall plantings, the gallery and its partners are working together to engage the communities that border Carroll and Patterson Parks to participate in the plantings. UMBC students will also work with community schools on special educational programming to help students discover the importance of art and the environment.

Artist/curator Todd Bockley at the Center for Social Sculpture (Minneapolis, MN) will act as consultant to the project and will participate in the educational programming and plantings. The center honors Beuys, who gave voice to the idea that thought has shape: just as individual thought has an individual shape, our collective thought has a collective shape.

UMBC's partners are the Arundel Corporation, Baltimore Museum of Art, Banner Neighborhoods Youth Employment Project, Butchers Hill Community Association, Carroll Park Foundation, Center for Social Sculpture (Minneapolis), Charles Village Civic Association, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, City of Baltimore Department of Parks and Recreation, Constellation Energy Group, Enterprise Foundation, Fells Point Creative Alliance, Friends of Maryland Olmstead Park Association, Friends of Patterson Park, Friends of Wyman Park Dell, Goethe Insitute (Washington, DC), Hands on Baltimore, Maryland Fund for the Environment of the Baltimore Community Foundation, Millenium Green, Parks and People Foundation, 21st Century Threshold Project and the Washington Village Pigtown Planning Council.As with any project of this kind, long-term health of the trees is an important concern. Phase I also includes a professional two-year maintenance plan to ensure their survival. After the completion of Phase I in the spring of 2001, Phase II envisions the recruitment of Baltimore organizations for partnership in this ongoing project. If funding is secured for future phases, 1,000-7,000 trees will be planted, mirroring the artistic gesture as it exists in Kassel.

Originally conceived as part of the well-known international art exhibition, Documenta 7, Beuys' work on the project led him to coin the term, social sculpture, which describes the process of communication and collaboration between artists and citizens to create environmental artworks beneficial to the community. Beuys felt that these community-based art structures or projects might change the way people relate to the world in which they live and work. The project provided Beuys the opportunity to express his social concerns to improve the ecosystem, to develop positive economic and political voices in urban settings and to improve human life in general.

To fully realize the potential of 7000 Oaks, Beuys invited people around the world to plant trees in their own living environments and hoped especially that U.S. cities would follow his lead to begin to restore landscapes he felt were destroyed by deforestation. Since the completion of 7000 Oaks, several other social sculpture tree projects have been generated at the Walker Art Center, Dia Center for the Arts, Joslyn Museum, Tweed Museum, Benedicta Arts Center, and individual projects in Oslo and Sydney.

Beuys was born in Klave, Germany. From 1941-45, he served as a pilot and radio operator in World War II. He had often told how his plane crash in the snow and subsequent rescue by a peasant who wrapped him in fat and felt to save his life awakened his keen sense of the fragility of life. After the war, he studied at the State Academy of Art in Dusseldorf as a sculptor. In 1953, he had his first one-person exhibition in Kranenburg. He taught at the Dusseldorf Art Academy from 1961 until 1972 when he was dismissed due to political controversy. The dismissal was later deemed unlawful. From the early 1970s onward, he exhibited widely throughout Europe and the U.S., and represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1976. He died in 1986 in Dusseldorf, where he had lived for most of his life.

Funding for Phase I of the Joseph Beuys Tree Partnership comes from the TKF Foundation in Annapolis, MD ( The foundation's mission is to create urban greenspace, sponsor public art and champion urban agriculture with the goals of nurturing the human spirit and fostering a sense of community. Additional UMBC support comes from the Offices of the President, Provost, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Institutional Advancement, as well as the Department of Visual Arts, Physical Plant, Environment and Stewardship Committee and the Shriver Center.

UMBC's Fine Arts Gallery is a non-profit space dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary art. The gallery serves as a unique center for the university community and the general public in the visualization and discussion of important philosophical and aesthetic issues of the day.

Posted by dwinds1 at September 19, 2000 12:00 AM