The Fading Memory of Nature

Chris Buske's new show I Remember Trees draws us into a dystopian future filled with nostalgia for what could have been saved.

'Aspen' by C.S. Buske, 2020

In a year when many elements of dystopian fiction have become realities, it is not that hard to imagine the preservation of natural treasures existing only as fossils, relics, and reconstructions to be admired by future generations. Chris Buske has envisioned another "new normal" that, like a global pandemic, is not so illogical. Inspired by an old diary sparked by the knowledge of our tree abuse, Chris' new museum, set in the year 2050, is alluring. Trees are reconstructed as bonsai-esque wire sculptures, street art-style stencils, and vibrant paintings. Artworks are carefully enclosed in antique frames and glass cases to protect their painstakingly recreated memory. This nostalgic glance at a once-abundant resource challenges us to return to the present with a new awareness and appreciation for our natural world.

Chris shared his thoughts in an interview.

What impact are humans having on trees and what can we do to protect and preserve them? 

As most of us who follow science know, we are on the verge of mass extinction, and I think trees are no exception. All of the logging we are doing and all of the rainforests we are tearing down for farming is having a huge impact on trees and the environment in general. We need to find more sustainable ways to continue these industries. There are a lot of other things we can do too, like policy reform and pushing our economy towards renewable energies. I think it will take a big change in the way we live, but we can all contribute in small ways. Even something as simple as planting trees can help.  

Photo from 'I Remember Trees,' the new show by C.S. Buske at NEXT Gallery

In your dystopian vision, how do you see trees being remembered in the future?

I took a lot of inspiration from the Joni Mitchell song, "Big Yellow Taxi," and there is a line "They took all the trees and put 'em in a tree museum, and charged everybody a dollar and half just to see 'em".  So I kind of imagined them that way, as rarities that are enjoyed only by the elite, or seen in captivity.

What type of tree would you be most sad to lose and why?

That is a hard one, but I would have to say oak trees. They are so majestic, especially in the south, with their huge roots and giant limbs dangling everywhere.  

Many of your techniques and mediums (e.g. stencils, wheatpaste) are used within the built environment for street art. Why did you choose to use street art mediums to reflect on the natural world?

Good question. Thanks for asking... 

There are several reasons I chose to use only experimental and street art mediums for this show.  Trees are a common subject in art and I wanted to try and show them in a new way. I have never seen nature explored in street art techniques and I thought it would be a fresh approach. I also wanted to add that urban element as a juxtaposition to the natural elements in the show and to give it a futuristic feel.  

I Remember Trees closes on October 25.

Artwork is sold through an ongoing auction that closes Sunday. Place your bid at NEXT Gallery as 20% of profits from artwork sales will go toward the planting of trees.

Where: NEXT Gallery, 6851 W. Colfax Ave, Unit B, Lakewood CO (In Pasternack’s Art Hub)

When: Fri 6 - 10 p.m., Sat & Sun 12 - 5 p.m.

Safety Info: Patrons are expected to wear masks, maintain 6 ft. distances, and use provided hand sanitizer.

Check out Chris' website at and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

'Birch Forest' by C.S. Buske, 2020

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