If the blue trees grab your attention, that's the point

An example from the "Blue Tree" exhibit in Vancouver, Canada, by artist Konstantin Dimopoulos. He will paint trees at the University of Florida as part of a public art exhibit this month. (Courtesy of www.kondimopoulous.com)

Published: Monday, October 8, 2012 at 4:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 8, 2012 at 4:09 p.m.

An artist will be turning trees blue on the University of Florida campus this month, but don't expect orange shrubs to follow.

Rather than a tribute to UF's official colors, the trees are being painted vibrant blue for a public art exhibit meant to bring attention to the threat of deforestation.

UF announced Monday that artist Konstantin Dimopoulos will color the trees from Oct. 15 to 19 as part of an art exhibit simply called "Blue Trees." The exhibit is meant to convey the idea that trees are largely invisible in daily life, with the public not realizing their aesthetic and environmental value until it's too late.

"Hopefully, students and faculty and visitors to our campus will notice the environment in a new light," said Anna Heineman, project director for the exhibit and administrator of the UF art in state buildings program.

Dimopoulos will use environmentally safe, pigmented water on the bark, which rain is expected to naturally degrade within 12 months. He will choose five or six groups of trees to color, expected to total around 25 trees. A UF landscape design class picked the possible selections.

The UF Foundation is funding the $22,000 exhibit, according to the university. A cellphone tour, provided by the city of Gainesville's parks department, will give information to visitors about the trees' significance and environmental benefits.

Dimopoulos is a sculptor and performance artist who lives in Australia. The "Blue Trees" project was first created in Australia in 2005. It has subsequently appeared in Canada, New Zealand, Seattle and this month is coming to Sacramento, Calif., as well as Gainesville.

Dimopoulos will take part in a welcome event Oct. 17 at noon at the Reitz Union. He also will speak at a panel Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the Harn Museum of Art.

The exhibit is part of UF's efforts to mark the land-grant university system's 150th anniversary. It follows another public arts project, "Crossing Paths," that brought 25 sculptures by artist Seward Johnson to campus and throughout Gainesville.

Heineman hopes such projects help get the public interested in art.

"I like to look at public art as a stepping stone to the museums here on campus and across the planet," she said.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com. Visit www.thecampussun.com for more stories on the University of Florida.

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