In less than a month, the historic Olbrich park will be decorated by an archetypal labyrinth, constructed entirely out of discarded Christmas pine trees. Artist Lillian Sizemore’s temporary art exhibition, “How lovely are thy branches” was recently approved, funded and put into motion by the Madison Arts Commission (MAC); a group dedicated to supporting underfunded and underappreciated art installations in the city of Madison.
Three times a year, the MAC grants independent artists and groups the opportunity to submit an ad hoc public art project idea through an initiative titled BLINK. The MAC then approves a handful of submissions, distributes grants up to $1500 and temporary public art works find a home in Madison.
On Tuesday, March 9th, the MAC conducted a second BLINK Proposal Review from a handful of February submissions. The main project discussed was the aforementioned exhibition by Sizemore.
Sizemore’s Cretan-style labrinth will appear in January 2022 through a proposed end date of March 30th, 2022. She plans to utilize the discarded pine trees that were part of a city pick-up program early this year. In a statement put out by Sizemore regarding her choice of material, “It will give a "second life" to these fragrant noble pines, and extend and enrich the sensations of winter.”
Sizemore intends for the construction to be a “placemaking site for position intention.” The labyrinth will come to a center area called The Moss Mound, where people can leave rocks, spontaneous messages, hopes, dreams and meditate. The experience is one for the individual to reflect and create a more positive headspace to carry with them upon departure of the maze.
“The labyrinth would serve as a gathering place and be open to all to walk in safe distances, to synchronize energy, to slow down, to imbue peace and calm, ease anxiety and connect with nature,” said Sizemore.
“How lovely are thy branches” is coming just a month after the MAC’s latest large Madison project, “Winter is Alive! A Cooler World Carnival,” which recently ended on March 7th. The Committee reflected upon the success of the endeavor.
The program ran from February 12th through March 7th, and featured temporary outdoor sculptural installations and live streamed narrative, performative and informative events. The project was created to combine Madison geography with art and activities to foster a place for environmental dialogue, personal reflection and creativity. All of which was accomplished safely outdoors or virtually.
The Madison Arts Program Administrator, Karin Wolf, has been especially excited and vocal about keeping the arts alive during the pandemic. During the summer of 2020, Wolf spearheaded the panorama of murals that adorned the boarded up State Street store fronts. She worked to connect local businesses with local artists, and the result was that of 100 distinct murals within a half-mile stretch.
"These are creative entrepreneurs. They don't just rely on one source of income. But unfortunately, they're in the gig economy, for better or worse, and they're not getting any income right now from any of their sources,” said Wolf in an interview with Tone Madison. From the artists who painted a mural on State Street to Lillian Sizemore and her natural labyrinth, these creators are looking for any and all support to create and share something special.
So if you find yourself on the east side of Lake Monona, wandering Olbrich Park after April 4th, take the time to wander Sizemore’s labyrinth and consider “How lovely are thy branches.”