Linda Brenner: Paulownia Project

Terminal C

Philadelphia artist Linda Brenner creates sculpture from fallen tree trunks because they were aged, diseased, damaged, or cleared for land development. The salvaged trees are carved by Brenner and transformed into sculpture inspired by the places where they once grew.

In 2005, Brenner was fortunate to receive some very prized trees cut down as a result of age and because of a historic restoration project underway at Logan Circle, an urban park situated in the heart of Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Originally conceived by French architect Jacques Gréber in 1919, the Parkway is a dynamic landscaped boulevard that connects the Philadelphia Museum of Art and City Hall. At its center is Logan Circle, which features one of Philadelphia's most prominent public artworks Swann Memorial Fountain created by the famous sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder. Since its completion in 1924, the fountain and the circle have been beautifully landscaped with flowers, shrubbery, and 12 empress trees (Paulownia tomentosa)-a fast growing species with clusters of purplish flowers in spring, yet short-lived to about 70 years. With the circle's restoration, it was time to replace the trees with 12 new paulownias.

Brenner salvaged portions of the original trees and created three carvings to commemorate their original existence while giving them new life as sculpture. Brenner's sculptural forms were inspired by the geometry of Gréber's plan and the theme of Philadelphia's three principal waterways-the Delaware River, Schuylkill River, and Wissahickon Creek-the same rivers featured in Calder's fountain. Like the restoration project that allows Logan Circle to flourish into the future, Brenner has created a poetic tribute to the 12 original trees that graced the fountain for more than 80 years.