Rochester Big Trees . com Rochester's Big Trees—A Celebration, by Richard Margolis. Celebrating the big trees in Rocehster, NY.


Red Oak

National Champion Red Oak
More information on this tree.

Rochester's Big Trees

Some of my best friends have been trees. My brothers and I had a couple of “stations” in the tree in the backyard when we grew up. That tree was big enough to accommodate all three of us and when we were ready it would take off, being our rocket ship in the age of Captain Video. Or I was a cowboy. In the alley a couple of blocks away there was a stump that was my secret retreat, also a rocket if I remember correctly, but with better controls and much faster.

In the 1970s I did a series of landscapes at night that featured parks, golf courses, and cemeteries, and trees played a major role although they were not really the subject. I did get to know some of the trees in Highland Park and Mt. Hope Cemetery quite well and still visit them occasionally.

I have had trees on my list of things that I wanted to do for several years and then saw the Speilberg film “Poltergeist”, where the little boy’s worst fear comes true, the tree outside his bedroom window turns into a monster and attacks at night. In the Australian film “Sweetie” the heroine, Kay, says that trees scare her because they have human powers.

Several years ago the NY Times ran an article about the National Park Service survey of the “Big Trees” in the United States. They listed the biggest tree of each specie and provided the location by county and state. I discovered that Rochester has a significant number of state champion trees and one recently identified National Champion. And the Landmark Society provided a list of Rochester’s Famous and Historic Trees.

I like to think about Edward Steichen photographing the Shad-Blow Tree outside his window in Connecticut. He recorded it throughout the seasons, at different times of day, in various weather conditions for several years, described in his book “Steichen, A Life in Photography”. When I first read that I presumed that the challenge was photographic, but now I think that he was really struggling with the tree to create a print that matched his image of it. I have attempted to make prints that capture the spirit of the tree.


"Rochester's Big Trees" was exhibited in 1990 and 1991 at American Association of University Women (AAUW), Rochester, NY; Gallery 34, Community College of the Finger Lakes, Canandaigua, NY; Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, NY; Jefferson Community College, Watertown, NY; Link Gallery, City Hall, Rochester, NY; and Spectrum Gallery, Light Impressions, Rochester, NY.


I would like to thank Hilland Knapp, retired head of the Parks Department; Helen Foster, Horticulturist for The Landmark Society; and James Atwater, Arborphile, for helping me identify Rochester’s Big Trees.

The LIFT grant has allowed me to set aside a block of time and actually begin what I had been thinking about for so long. This show is dedicated to the wonderful trees in the area, the natural treasures that enhance our world, and to the people who care for them.

(This exhibition is made possible with public funds from Monroe County and the New York State Council on the Arts. In Monroe County the LIFT Program is administered by Arts for Greater Rochester.)


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