Thursday, December 20, 2007
A thick 10-foot wooden ladder leads up to a circular entrance wreathed with a spray of branches – oak, plum, willow, and eucalyptus. Each bough gracefully bends to form this supple arch, almost as if nature intended them to take their present shape.
The branches weave into a huge hollow sphere that rests atop a cradle of branches in the Big Sur Spirit Garden. The sphere’s artist and cofounder of the garden, Jayson Fann, drew inspiration for his creation, which he calls Spirit Nest, from the ceremonial lodges he glimpsed at a Lakota Sioux reservation, the vernacular architecture he saw in Africa and South America and childhood forts.
Inside the pillow-strewn interior, the commotion of the outside world recedes. In its place comes peace.
The effect speaks to Fann’s philosophy: he sees himself not as an artist who believes in art simply for the sake of art – he favors art that serves a purpose. The nest, for Fann, is “a time and space for dreaming and remembering that life is magical.”
The Big Sur Spirit Garden, like the Spirit Nest, reflects Fann’s philosophy. Fann uses art and culture as educational vehicles – the garden attracts visual and performing artists from around the world interested in sharing their work. Their artwork teaches the community about the artist’s land and traditions.
To date, Fann has constructed seven nests, not counting the one he lived in 10 years back (complete with bedroom, guestroom, and a 20-foot-long living room). Of the seven, only the Spirit Nest lies open to the public; the rest are secluded on private property. Fann, however, is not done building. A larger nest is in the works for Monterey’s First Night, where revelers can look to alight upon the nest and let their spirits soar.