Here’s a statement I can stand behind: most urban surfaces can be improved by the addition of plant life. Just about everything around me for blocks is fully paved by multiple layers of asphalt, cobble stones, more asphalt, and sometimes a very thin layer of dog shit.
Sorry that was gross. But point is, there’s room for trees. There’s room for grass. And there’s most certainly room for growing something to eat. Basically, there’s plenty of opportunity and not enough folks with jackhammers and trees. I’m looking at you people!
Rather than tackling this huge problem head on, artist Steve Wheen is working exclusively in very small increments. The Pothole Gardener is transforming tire-killing voids into tiny scenes of wonder: a miniature park with a tiny lawn chair, a small meadow with a picnic blanket, and a tiny Christmas tree with little gifts. Maybe they’re little boxes of seeds?
I can’t lie, my first impulse when I see these is to stomp them. Which is terrible and is actually not a reflection of how I feel about this art. I think it’s beautiful! But it’s soooo delicate it practically begs to be destroyed.
But that’s the whole point: he’s creating “beautiful little moments” that are completely undermatched by their tough surroundings. The artist notes that almost immediately after installing one of his micro gardens it was destroyed by the tire of a Land Rover.
It begs the question: are temporary, microscopic gardens the answer to ugly, barren cityscapes? Perhaps in getting us to pause and imagine something so much more pleasant than a jagged hole in the ground, Steve Wheen is doing something more powerful: providing us with a tiny snapshot of what else could be.