Maspeth Art Exhibit Gives Love to Forgotten Christmas Trees

This is the time of year when discarded Christmas trees line city streets, awaiting trash collection. But some lucky trees are finding a second life — as works of art. NY1's Roger Clark has the story.

In a space where glass and doors were once manufactured, 40 former Christmas trees now hang from the ceiling

"Something that's loved and kept for a short while should have a longer life, should have a second life," artist Mark Shortliffe said.

And they do in an art installation, "Suspended Forest," at the Knockdown Center, a former factory-turned-arts-and-events space.

Artist Michael Neff created similar forests under the BQE in Williamsburg, but the city quickly removed them. No danger of that happening this time.

"Something I like about our art projects is taking symbols and sort of using everyday symbols to make a new poem and making poetry out of symbols," said Tyler Myers, the Knockdown Center's co-director. "And I think that this accomplishes that."

The trees in the exhibit were collected from city sidewalks with Neff's friend and fellow artist Shortliffe, but not just any old tree would do.

"We had enough time now that we could select trees that were a good size [and were] in good enough shape," Shortliffe said.

According to Shortliffe, "Suspended Forest" is about renewal for a beloved item. According to him, Neff's fascination with the trees is based on their discovery of how they are disposed here in town.

"Both of us didn't t grow up in the city," Shortliffe said. "Obviously we had Christmas trees growing up, but we weren't used to these piles of Christmas trees that happened in New York, specifically after the holidays, and we wanted to give them a new life."

And appropriately in a space that is also getting a new life as a cultural destination.

"Re-contextualizing and taking a bit of the everyday and making it a little different in this really sensory way, because you probably can't smell it on your TV," Myers said. "But the smell is pretty amazing too."

After this exhibit is over, the trees will wind up just like so many other discarded Christmas trees — as mulch in a garden or a park somewhere — giving them a third life.

If you want to wander the "Suspended Forest," the exhibit is open 2 to 6 p.m. on weekends through Jan. 31. Head to knockdown.center to find out more.

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