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Falling for a work of art: Plants knocked down in hurricane used for tree house • Brooklyn Paper

Falling for a work of art: Plants knocked down in hurricane used for tree house

Twig technology: Tree house architect Roderick Romero has created an installation at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden using wood from trees felled by Hurricane Sandy. This whimsical, inhabitable sculpture will be part open-air classroom, part viewing point, and part artwork.
Photo by Stefano Giovanni

If a tree falls in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, give it to an artist.

Sculptor Roderick Romero has built a large tree house — which looks like a giant wooden dais — from some of the rarest materials a builder could ask for: exotic tress from the Brooklyn Botanic that hurricanes Sandy and Irene felled.

“Since [the garden] is basically a museum of plants and trees, I got to work with ‘museum pieces,’ ” said Romero. “I would never have had access to these kinds of wood, ever.”

The end product is called “Sandy Remix.” It is the artist’s first work intended for the public’s enjoyment and it is a display of fierce imagination. The twisted boughs and different hued walls are wild and beautiful. It isn’t a house suspended in a tree, but Romero likens it to a giant bird’s nest that has fallen from its perch after a hurricane hits.

“It goes flying through the air like in the Wizard of Oz before crashing in the grass. I think that’s kind of what it looks like,” said Romero of his installation.

That being said, his unorthodox tree houses have captured the attention of clients such as Sting, Donna Karan, and Julienne Moore. Romero’s projects span across America and myriad countries overseas including Morocco, Italy, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

Although Romero built his very first ‘adult tree house’ in 1997, he and his two older brothers picked up the craft in their childhood days.

“We would scale the trees carrying plywood, and nail two by fours to make little walls and windows, which was actually a really bad way to do it,” said Romero. “Then we’d read comic books and hide away from our parents.”

“Tree House Installation: Sandy Remix” at Brooklyn Botanic Garden [150 Eastern Pkwy., 990 Washington Ave., or 455 Flatbush Ave. entrances in Prospect Park, (718) 623–7200, bbg.org]. Open Tues.–Fri., 8 am–6 pm, Sat.–Sun., 10 am–6 pm.

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