One of the most interesting things about running WaterShapes has been the opportunities I’ve had to get out and see projects, both in process and finished.
Through the years, I’ve been treated to tours by watershapers including David Tisherman, William Rowley, Skip Phillips, George Forni, Ken Alperstein, Randy Beard, Mark Holden, Ron Lacher, Melanie Jauregui, Mario Abaldo and Ron and Suzanne Dirsmith, among many, many others.
Not only are these visits terrific fun and time well spent, but they are also amazingly informative: There’s no substitute for seeing the work up close and in person to enable an observer to grasp the vision, creativity, skill and pride that the best and brightest in the trade bring to the table. Indeed, it’s humbling to stand in the company of these artists and absorb their insights into the nuances of their work.
These brief road trips, in fact, continuously reinforce my sense of how dynamic and diverse the watershaping trades are becoming.
Just recently, I was invited to visit job sites with our “Natural Companions” columnist, Stephanie Rose. I could go on at quite some length about what I saw, her skill as a designer, her deft touch in working with clients and the diligence she brings to project management. What impressed me most, however, were the insights she shared into the creative process she applies in everything from small spaces to vast outdoor canvases.
The most dramatic example of vastness came in our stop at the Lake Shrine of the Self-Realization Fellowship. As she explains in what is, surprisingly, her first feature article for WaterShapes (“Sea of Tranquility” – click here), Rose was asked to consult with the facility’s staff about their program for upgrading and reworking a number of details among the Lake Shrine’s various garden spaces.
As she reports, she’d passed by the site for years and never bothered to stop in – and I have to say that had been my experience as well. Little did I know that alongside one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles is a space of peace and repose that rivals any contemplative garden I’ve ever seen anywhere.
The entire space is organized around a lake, and every few steps around its perimeter present the visitor with different views of plants, animals, artwork and magnificent reflections across the surface of the quiet waters. I was struck by the simple beauty and encompassing tranquility – all achieved through the thoughtful application of water and landscaping.
Rose’s detailed article, illustrated with photographs by WaterShapes’ publisher Jim McCloskey, goes into detail about the site, its history and her involvement with the gardens, offering insights on watershaping, landscaping and the art of creating and transforming the human experience.
Similar transformations happen in all sorts of public and private spaces – in backyards, civic plazas, community aquatic facilities and especially in the rare spaces set aside for tranquility, peace and meditation. Speaking for myself, I felt invigorated and inspired by spending only part of an afternoon at the Lake Shrine. It was, in its own quiet way, a profound experience.
Not that I really needed convincing, but when you see a space such as this, it’s enough to make even the most skeptical heart believe in the great healing power of water.