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Madison Arts Commission funds winter labyrinth for Blink Temporary Public Art Program

An 89-foot diameter temporary walking LABYRINTH will be constructed from recycled holiday tree branches this winter, and will be free and open to the public. How Lovely Are Thy Branches is coming to Olbrich Park Beach in Madison WI, January 2 through March 1, 2022. This Project was commissioned by Madison Arts Commission Blink program which supports artist proposed temporary public art installations. Conceived, designed, and facilitated by local Madison artist, Lillian Sizemore, the project is also supported by a Matching Grant from an anonymous arts fund at the Madison Community Foundation, administered through Communication Madison.

Will you be cutting or buying a holiday tree this winter?
Drop off your used holiday greens from JAN 2-29, 2022 at the designated point at OLBRICH PARK, 3527 Atwood Ave. (at Walter St., Near the Biergarten).
Look for the signs placed at the DROP OFF site, right next to the parking lot.
The project needs Real Trees only - no ornaments, no wired wreaths or swags please. Sizemore needs about 250 trees to line the pathways with their branches - - continued…

Anna January, the chair of the Madison Arts Commission offers, “We are so happy to see this temporary public art installation come to fruition. The artist has been planning and working with City staff to secure permissions for nearly a year.” She added, “Lillian Sizemore is a talented artist and she is giving our community a beautiful gift, a place to enter the beautiful winter landscape and find peace within. Our community needs special places for reflection and healing right now.” The project was created as a platform for environmental dialogue, personal reflection, and hospitality.

ON OPENING DAY: a Celebration is planned and details are underway.
Opening Day to the Public, SUNDAY JAN 30, 2022
3:00 PM to 5:30PM (more details to come)
Sunset is at 5:07 PM that day.

A special illuminated hoop performance is planned with Hoop Elation founder and Instructor Danielle Lee and others, to open and energize the labyrinth. The Glowing Hoop Procession will take place starting around 4:30PM.
The public is invited to bring a light: such as solar lights, LED candles, glow sticks, headlamps, flashlights, etc. No open flames are allowed.
The Mexican restaurant “Taco Local” will have their food truck at the park, or Opening Day, Sunday Jan 30th, to provide snacks, chili, and warm drinks during the opening festivities.

Kite Aerial Photographer Craig Wilson, will be documenting the event from the air. Announcements and thanks will be presented.
More information on the opening day schedule will be available in the coming weeks. Please contact Ms. Sizemore or Ms. Wolf for more information..

Labyrinth is open throughout the month of February 2022. The labyrinth is FREE and open to the public during normal park hours, from Jan 30th through the month of February, 2022. The Labyrinth may be closed to access, if weather conditions are muddy or otherwise unfavorable.

During the month of January, volunteers are needed to assist the artist with constructing the large 89-foot diameter labyrinth. “People wonder if we’re using the whole tree, no we’re not. We’re not allowed to anchor anything into the ground, so we will be cutting the fragrant pine boughs off the trees trunks, cutting the trunks into varied lengths, and using these parts to build the knee-high pathways of the Labyrinth design.” Sizemore has engaged the skilled services of David Stevens, woody ornamental specialist, and curator at the UW-Madison Arborteum, to use a low-decible electric chainsaw to help break down the recycled trees. Visitors will be able to see the expanse of the landscape, lake, and city view as they walk. The entrance to labyrinth will be oriented to the winter sunset, due west..” explained the artist.

Another delightful detail of the labyrinth will be “The Moss Mound” a central roundel within the labyrinth where visitors can leave a small, natural offering, perhaps as a blessing or remembrance, elevating the community spirit of the installation. Sizemore says, “This project will connect our community through a kind of mutual caregiving and support. How Lovely Are Thy Branches emphasizes the beautiful, circular continuum, and honor our interdependence with nature.” Sizemore hopes people will walk the labyrinth with friends, family, coworkers, and loved ones. “Pines stay green in the coldest of cold, they are some of the oldest living plants, they bring fragrance and beauty to our long snowy winters.”

Through the design and permitting process, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection (DATCP), informed the artist about the environmental importance of buying or cutting trees from local Tree Farms. The project encourages buying local trees to prevent introducing the Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) sometimes found in tree stock at Big Box stores. Currently, the pest is not established in Wisconsin, so “We’re thankful for your efforts to use art to build awareness of ways we can protect Wisconsin’s gorgeous, irreplaceable, native forests!” says Shala Werner, Plant Protection Section Manager at DATCP. Wisconsin has over 800 real tree farms and there are many reasons to choose a real tree.

Labyrinths are Amazing but they are not a Maze.
Traditionally Labyrinths have been used for reflection and to quiet the mind. A labyrinth has one single pathway in and out. You won't get lost here, as you follow the gentle winding path of this most ancient pattern known. A maze, by contrast, has many dead ends and is designed to confuse the participant. “This classical labyrinth will serve as a gathering place, but it’s not a playground. Typically, labyrinths are approached with reverence, and spaciousness. Walking can help synchronize energy, slow down…it helps you connect with the flow of your own life” said Sizemore.

Suggestions for walking the labyrinth
Begin with the three R’s
Release: Prepare your mind, take a deep breath and calm before entering, let go of your daily cares,
Receive: walk the labyrinth quietly, and with an open mind, perhaps you have a question in mind, contemplate this as you reach the center point,
Return: throughout the winding walk, you may receive insights to take back into your life. Exit the labyrinth with thanks.

If you encounter another person in the labyrinth as you walk, it is customary to leave space in between you and the other, or wait to enter until the other person has left. When walking with a group, give some distance to each other, and attune to the pace of the group.

The LABYRINTH offers the opportunity to walk amongst the lovely pine branches, foster community, and carry forward the goodwill of the holidays. Groups are encouraged to come together and walk. The project highlights the cycle of life through the re-use of the humble Holiday tree. When the labyrinth project is over, the branches will be collected, chipped, and used for mulching Wisconsin’s summer blueberry crops. The Labyrinth comes Full Circle!

How Lovely Are Thy Branches Temporary Labyrinth Jan-March 2022
INTERVIEW on WORT 89.9- 8 O’Clock Buzz, Monday 11/22/21
a direct link to the interview here:
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Lillian Sizemore Bio: A native midwesterner, Lillian Sizemore brings a lifetime of creative engagement to this public art project combining studies in geometry, mandalas, labyrinths, and garden design. Sizemore studied at Indiana University, University of Bologna, Italy, and the Prince’s School of Traditional Art in London, UK. Working in collage, watercolor, and mixed-media mosaic she creates dynamic works designed for intimate observation and deep reflection. Ms. Sizemore is a specialist in midcentury mosaics, and her essays have been published in a number of international magazines. She resides in Madison, Wisconsin.

Madison Art Commission Blink Program: BLINK provides funding for temporary experimental, ad-hoc, temporary works of art to sprout up throughout the community and vanish, leaving residents and visitors eager to see what is next. We fund projects for up to $1500 each. BLINK is an opportunity for Madison neighborhoods and urban areas are open canvases. The possibilities for creations on open spaces, construction sites, and public parks will provide a glimpse of how the world looks through an artist’s eyes.
The project is supported by a Matching Grant from Madison Community Foundation administered by Communication Madison, a sober, volunteer-run non-profit serving all-ages, committed to engaging in antiracist work, mutual aid, and equitable compensation for artists and musicians.