Watercooler

Artist takes a different spin on the Christmas tree

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What has to be one of the most unusual Christmas trees in the Bay Area is going up at a shopping complex in Emeryville. The tree is made of shopping carts.

From a distance it looks like a typical Christmas tree. But up close, you can see that instead of leaves, recycled shopping carts are stacked on top of each other. In total there are 84 of them and it goes as high as 33 feet. Add ornaments and lights and this year Christmas tree is filled with symbolism.

"Yes, in today's economy, but it would be great if everyone went out and shopped and it's also bringing a little bit of consciousness to the process about what we need, being aware of other. Those that have and don't have," artist Anthony Schmitt said.

The design has been structurally engineered and it's not likely to be affected by winds. There is very little resistance. Schmitt is from Santa Monica where he designed a similar tree. That tree intrigued the Bay Market Operators and this is his interpretation of Northern California.

"Berries, grapes and seasons the farming and community, and also a sense of industry up here. That's why I chose the colors to represent the ripening berries and the gray to represent the atmosphere that is here," he said.

When lit, it is suppose to instill a sense of wonder. Shoppers checking out the unfinished version can attest to that.

"It's different, pretty cool. I wonder if it is inspired by something, recycling. I wonder what made them do it," Savannah Mann from Oakland said.

"I think it's cool. Very symbolic example of consumerism in our society," Kristen Willis from Martinez said.

"It's like a celebration I also think about recycling. It just kind of brings up that using material for other things," Stacey Ward-Kelly said.

It will be lit up nightly, and then early in the morning just before sunrise to spread some cheer to commuters.

Schmitt hopes this tree will become a holiday tradition in Emeryville and the lighting ceremony will be on Dec. 2

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