by: Cliff Newell, 
Stephanie Wagner, executive director of the Friends of Tryon Creek State Park, prepares to take a ride in

Natural Cycles is proving that Mother Nature might be the best art gallery of them all.

Now in its third year, the event held at Tryon Creek State Park is truly coming into its own among the public and artists, and this year's exhibit will be unveiled this weekend.

'We're increasing our number of partners within the art community,' said Stephanie Wagner, executive director of Friends of Tryon Creek State Park. 'It takes time to build this kind of credibility, but now they know we're not this little, isolated event. We are part of the general art scene of Portland.'

Once again, this year's event will feature five installations of art showpieces. This meets resistance from some patrons, but Wagner insists that this is the best way for Natural Cycles to go.

'We've kept our exhibits at five, and we want all of them to be new,' Wagner said. 'We don't want a growing sculpture garden here. Every year people can have a special experience.'

That special experience this year will have an emphasis on visual perception. Last year's Natural Cycles had strong math and cerebral overtones. But the 2007 event will help people see the forest with 'new eyes.'

'These exhibits will show there are new ways of looking at the forest,' Wagner said. 'They let us focus on some of the details. A lot of time we don't see the smaller pieces that lead to the bigger whole.'

For example there is artist Bonnie Paisley's Reflecting the Forest, which uses Claude Mirrors, a tool used by artists in the 17th and 18th centuries, to not only see reflections of the forest but themselves.

'This is a great opportunity, because personally I've never done any work outdoors,' said Paisley, a young artist who lives in Portland. It's been a real challenge and a great experience so far. I love that park.'

Other artists include:

n Jonathan Beaver, Optical Red for Tryon Creek - a modest room in red will enable visitors to view the green of the forest in a much more vivid way.

n Matthew Tucker Cartwright, Archus Branches - This will be a grand arch made of fallen branches and connecting two trees.

n Gloria Lamson, One - Circular lines will appear to hover above the forested trail. The lines will be made of fishing twine and will once again show how in Natural Cycles that simple materials can be used to achieve an unique artistic reaction from viewers.

n J.D. Perkin and Anne Thompson, Ghost Trailer - A life-sized trailer sculpture will host native plants, branches, vines and moss. This installation represents the idea of nature and culture co-mingling.

One thing about the exhibits for Natural Cycles - they're all big. Paisley's mirrors are not that huge, but she will have nine of them installed.

Another thing visitors can be sure of is that they will be viewing an art exhibit totally unique to the United States.

'No one else is doing it,' said Wagner, who originated the idea for Natural Cycles. 'Other state parks only have their exhibits up for a short time, and they're much more like a regular art gallery.'

The unique quality of Natural Cycles has drawn an enthusiastic reaction from Northwest artists, who are 'really excited to have this venue.'

It is true that Natural Cycles is becoming established and Wagner is quite confident the 2007 event will be even more successful than the previous two. But, due to its special nature, it still has a daring aspect to it.

'We're a little nervous, but it will come together,' Wagner said. 'It will really work. It's going to have a different feel than our previous two events.

'Natural Cycles is a real positive addition to what is happening at Tryon Creek State Park.'

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