The first line of John Keats’ poem "Endymion" has long been quoted by pundits and other poets. "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever," wrote Keats. But I wonder if beauty provides lasting joy? I often think of beauty as something we experience in the moment. After beauty is gone, we still have an emotional connection, remembering how good we felt in that moment. But in my mind’s eye I cannot exactly replicate the purity of the experience. That is one reason why I write. I try to elevate what is beautiful about the ordinary to become extraordinary. That is what I call art.
There are many forms of beauty. I tend to fall in love with old trees. There is a shore pine tree next to my house. Old and gnarled, a bit scruffy, the tree has been battered by too many windstorms and hard driving rain. Weather-beaten limbs are covered with gray moss the texture of barnacles that have stood the test of time. Stellar Jays, Towhees, Woodpeckers, Eurasian doves, goldfinches, and sparrows flit from branch to branch at different times of the day. The tree grows too fast and the birds are never the same. I don’t know who I love more, the tree or the many birds who inhabit its secret spaces tucked away where they can play a mystical game of hide and go seek.
The other day I stumbled upon art where I never expected to find it—in the midst of the Wonder Garden in Manzanita, Oregon. I have described the Wonder Garden as a small oasis full of unruly, sun-kissed plants. This month the garden has five tiny art galleries staked on top of five wooden pillars that are artfully sculpted to resemble trees. The wooden birdhouse-size boxes contain a whole world unto themselves, inviting us to view art in miniature. Somehow seeing art on a small scale makes us feel private, introspective but larger than life and grand. There is no greater joy than seeing the tree, the bird or the art that comes to me when I least expect it.
For more information about the Tiny Art Galleries in the Wonder Garden...
Situated on the main street in Manzanita just a few blocks west of Highway 101, the Wonder Garden is located next to the North Tillamook Library. The Wonder Garden is owned and managed by the Hoffman Arts Center.