When skeptics tell modern artists to go jump in a lake, Robert Lobe takes them seriously.
The New York sculptor donned a wetsuit and dove into the Lullwater in Prospect Park last Tuesday to build a base for his 12-feet-wide aluminum tree.
“It’s the perfect setting, because the sculpture blends in,” Lobe said. “It’s a segue, an in-between.”
The aquatic artwork is one of three similarly large metal trees, representing fusions of natural beauty and metal handiwork, which will comprise Lobe’s “Nature in Nature” show. The exhibit will remain on display in the woods around the Boathouse until October.
The show, said Park Administrator Emily Lloyd, “will enrich the experience of everyone who visits Prospect Park.”
The works are in Lobe’s preferred repoussé — the fancy word for hammered, air-compressed and heat-treated metal. And for one of the three life-sized sculptures, Lobe wanted it to stand on the Lullwater for a “mythological” quality, and referred to the story of Greek goddess Daphne being transformed into a tree to escape the love-struck Apollo.
“Nature conjures up many kinds of deep-seated emotional things besides the picturesque,” Lobe said.
But what is a man-made tree doing in the middle of an actual forest? Didn’t Joyce Kilmer definitively conclude that there’s no poem as lovely as a tree?
Lobe said his art shows another side of nature.
“Once you start organizing nature, like in a park, it makes you think nature’s a friendly, beautiful place,” Lobe said. “But it’s also a place of great force and drama. My work is about the wildness and disorganized aspect of nature.”
The official opening for “Nature in Nature” at Prospect Park’s Audubon Center Boat House [use park entrance at Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Road and follow signs to the boathouse, (718) 287-3400] is on May 26 at 5 pm.