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City of blue trees: Artist to give presentation Saturday

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Kon brushed on the blue pigment to the first tree this afternoon.

Australia artist Konstantin "Kon" Dimopoulos is in town to paint 20 trees blue. The installation, "Blue Trees" will officially open on Saturday at 10 a.m. when Konstantin will give a presentation at the site on 13th Street between J and K Streets in downtown Sacramento. There is no charge to attend.


Kon explains the trees will be painted to the lower third of the trees
As an environmental activist it’s his way as an artist to call attention to global deforestation as well as to Sacramento’s urban forest.

"When the trees are gone, so are we," he said.

People ask him "why blue trees?" His response is that there are no blue trees in nature. He says the issue then is that some day, if we’re not careful, this could become the real environment; blue is about not breathing.

Blue = oxygen deprivation.

"When you’re born you’re blue and someone has to smack the hell out of you to get you breathing," said Dimopoulos.

The September 2010 issue of The Economist did a story titled "Lungs of the world", saying it is not in our best interest to lose the old trees.

"A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings." – McAliney, Mike. Arguments for Land Conservation: Documentation and Information Sources for Land Resources Protection, Trust for Public Land, Sacramento, CA, December, 1993.

Dimopoulos said  "go stand next to a giant Sequoia and see how you feel. It was here way before our ancestors were on boats to come here."

12 of the trees to be painted with the non-toxic blue pigment are on 13th St, same side as the Convention Center. Eight others are on the west side of the street. There will also be 40 container trees to be painted and showcased around town before being planted somewhere in Sacramento. The Blue Trees project will be completed on Saturday.

Two photographers capture Kon at work.

And, according to the itinerary, saplings will be painted at Crocker Park, Dimopoulos will give two Tedx Talks and talk to Bike Tour participants on Saturday.

According to the Sacramento Tree Foundation  website, The Blue Trees will, in addition to supporting the artist’s effort to call attention to global deforestation, local sponsors support the Blue Trees project for additional reasons:

  • "The Sacramento Tree Foundation is pleased that The Blue Trees will generate interest in, and conversation about, trees! The Tree Foundation would like to also help call attention to plight of the city’s iconic elm trees; and to encourage the public to plant and care for trees.
  • The Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau is committed to optimizing the Sacramento experience for visitors, and to generating positive news stories for the region. While many upcoming conferences will experience The Blue Trees, three in particular will have immediate exposure to the installation: American Institute of Architects; California Downtown Association and the National Urban Forest conference.
  • The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission is committed to expanding public experiences of visual art by installing artworks in public spaces. The Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership help promote the project because it is a demonstration of the region’s creativity, enthusiasm and willingness to do something interesting for a good cause. These are important factors in attracting and keeping new businesses and youthful workforces.
  • The City of Sacramento, Urban Forest Division supports the project with this message: “If you want to do something about Sacramento losing its signature canopy, then plant a tree! Even better, if you have the space, plant a big tree, like a hybrid DED resistant elm! Join the pledge to add 30,000 trees this year.”

Sacramento is Dimopoulos’ fifth Blue Trees project. He has done the project in Melbourne (2006), Vancouver (2011), Auckland (2011) and Seattle (2012). His next stop is Gainesville, FL. The Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission invited Dimopoulos to Sacramento about 7 weeks ago, according to Ray Tretheway. Executive Director, Sacramento Tree Foundation.

Kon talks to the volunteers before they begin painting.
Two volunteers start on a tree.

No public funds are spent on The Blue Trees project.

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