By Sara G. Stephens
Prominent environmental educator David Sobel said it best: “One transcendent experience in nature is worth a thousand nature facts.” In other words, the best bet for parents who are serious about teaching their kids environmental responsibility is to get them out into nature. The caring will surely follow.
Houston parents need only drive to Galveston, where the possibilities of transcendent experiences in nature are bountiful. Today, more than ever, the island offers many nature-immersive opportunities to ignite a lifelong passion for the environment.
Blue Trees Installation
“I think that I shall never see, A poem as lovely as a tree.” These are the words of Modern American poet Joyce Kilmer. They could very well be your words, too, especially after taking in the magical Blue Trees installation in downtown Galveston.
“The Blue Trees is a social art action,” says artist Konstantin Dimopoulos on his website. “Through colour I am making a personal statement about the spirituality of trees and their importance to our very survival: trees are the lungs of the planet.”
Dimopoulos has created Blue Trees installations in locations around the world, including Vancouver, New Zealand, and Seattle. On March 30, 2013 he inspired Galveston’s downtown with her newest creation. Although each installation varies somewhat with the landscape, the color remains intentionally consistent to mirror nature’s use of blue as a defensive mechanism, a means of protection, and as a tool for attracting.
The trees in Dimopoulos’ installations are treated with biologically safe pigmented water. The color naturally degrades over time, returning the trees to their natural color and state.
“Trees are largely invisible in our daily lives, and it’s not until it’s too late that we realise how important they are to us both aesthetically and environmentally,” Dimopoulos says. “Each year an area at least the size of Belgium of native forests is cleared from around the planet. Yet while we do this we look at whether other planets can be inhabited, so we’ve got somewhere else to go once we’ve destroyed our own.”
For more details on The Blue Trees, contact Becky Major with The National Hotel Artist Lofts in Galveston. Be sure to take your camera, as it’s impossible to take a bad picture of this powerful, ephemeral artwork.
Tree Sculpture Tour
Want more trees? Download a map from Galveston.com, pack some water bottles, grab the kids and start pounding the pavement of Galveston’s East End, where you will encounter trees recycled as art peppered throughout town. These gems are ranked No. 3 on TripAdvisor’s “Best Things to See in Galveston.”
When Hurricane Ike struck, 40,000 old trees were destroyed and cut down, leaving only stumps, or skeletons, as some like to say. Galveston artist Earl Jones, Houston artist Jim Phillips and artist Dayle Lewis of Richmond, Indiana, started carving the stumps, transforming them into more than 20 gallery-worthy sculptures of everything from an angel cradling a bunny to Tin Man & Toto, a geisha, a Great Dane and a grandmother reading to her children. The sculptures pop up on sidewalks and lawns located in five adjacent streets between Sealy and Post Office St. It’s an exhibit of artistry that underscores the irrepressible beauty of nature in all forms—even death. They’re outdoors, they’re free, and they’re breathtaking.
Eco Kayak and Art Tour
Artist Boat is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and preservation of coastal margins and the marine environment through the disciplines of the sciences and the arts. Via kayak, the organization provides guided interpretive tours to places of natural significance on Galveston Island and Galveston Bay. Tourists gain an appreciation for Galveston’s wetlands and fisheries and learn how restoration scientists have restored them. These kayak trips are great for families, friends, groups, and beginners. Tour options include kayak trips to Galveston Island State Park, Christmas Bay, Armand Bayou Coastal Preserve, Drum Bay, East End Lagoon, Cypress Swamps, Scenic Galveston, Smith Point, and Clear Creek. Words to the wise: wear shoes, wear sun protection, pack a waterproof lunch, and leave your cell phone in the car.
As for the art part of the tour, your guide will give you a brief lesson in watercolors, show you how to retrieve some bay water and mix colors, then help you decide which of the many beautiful scenes you might consider painting. What a great souvenir!
The dates, location, and paddling skill level of each public Eco-Art and Eco-Tour Kayak Adventure can be found on the schedule page (http://www.galveston.com/KayakAdventures). Two-hour trips cost $25. Three-to-four hour trips cost $50, with equipment provided, or $25, if you bring your own equipment.
Note that Artist Boat frequently looks for volunteers to help with dune planting. Check their Facebook page for updates on their needs.