By Eric Herman
Through the years – but particularly within the past two or three – one of the comments I’ve heard with the greatest frequency is that WaterShapes is improving dramatically with respect to the content it presents.
I’m always happy to hear any kind of positive feedback, but I’m always curious to know what about our coverage seems to be improving the most and always ask those who are making these comments to be as specific as they can. “Frankly,” I tell them, “I’m so close to what we print in the magazine that I can’t easily sort things out myself.”
What comes back when I ask for specifics is quite simple: The projects we’re covering nowadays, they say, are superior to those we held up as examples of excellence in years past.
What they’re telling me, in other words, is not that WaterShapes that has gotten so much better; rather, it’s watershapers who’ve stepped up a couple levels, and what we’re publishing shows their visible, marked improvements in creativity, style, technical sophistication, overall concept, sensitivity to site, sense of color, materials selections and more rather than our ingenuity in bringing these projects to print.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m all for letting our magazine get credit where it’s due, and I know we’ve played a part in all of this by having our eyes and ears open in lots of the right places at the right times and have shown some skill in creating a forum. But in reality, we’ve stayed relatively constant through the years, and the differences so many of you are perceiving have to do with progress so many of you have made toward playing the game at a higher level.
As I see it, it’s a great combination: The magazine is more valued and appreciated by its readers because the work’s getting better and better as time goes by and drawing the magazine along with it.
Let’s take this issue as a case in point, because it contains three project profiles that are worthy examples of what I see as being watershaping’s march to excellence. We start with Joan Roca and “Straight and Narrow,” a detailed look at a spectacular pool he built for a resort complex near his home in Costa Rica. Joan is a tremendous artist, and in this instance he’s taken manifestly simple forms and vested them with profound functional beauty.
Next comes a project from landscape designer Colleen Holmes, who shares some of her best work to date in “Graceful Transformation.” Here, she tells us how she used myriad watershaping and landscape details to create exterior spaces of almost mesmerizing tranquility and, between the lines, reveals the fact that she’s yet another restless spirit who’s pushing creativity to the limit in just about every project she tackles.
Finally, there’s the latest from Anthony Archer Wills – “Historic Perspectives.” It’s a bit hard to believe it after all these years, but this is his first-ever project profile for WaterShapes, and in it he begins coverage of a gargantuan residential project in southern Wisconsin where he’s using a complex system of ponds and streams to add new dimension to a historic property. I’ve always considered him to be the poet laureate of watergardening, and the reasons why are much in evidence in this article.
If presenting such material makes it seem as though the magazine is improving, that’s a wonderful side benefit. As I see it, the main point is that we’re sharing the state of the art with you and are more than satisfied to see that the state of the art keeps right on advancing.