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Blog art croppedBy Jim McCloskey

The three features that top this edition of WaterShapes have been a long time coming – a special package of articles all about the same project told from three different professional perspectives.

Through the years, we at WaterShapes have taken this expansive path on very few occasions, as we did in dedicating all four magazine articles in our April 2007 issue to the multiple pools stacked up at Jade Mountain on St. Lucia – and more recently with a pair of articles in the November 1, 2017 edition of this newsletter on a single, amazing project in Louisiana.

In this newsletter, the three features all appear under the heading of “Collaborative Art” as another special event, with articles from, in turn, the designer, the builder and the tile specialist who made it all happen.

The fact that we can do this at all says a lot about the way watershaping is evolving. When WaterShapes started 20 years ago, for example, there were only a few independent designers out there who tackled projects on a global basis, and most of them in those days were engaged in commercial projects rather than residential ones.

Nowadays, Shane LeBlanc (see “Refined Parameters”) is pretty much a global operator with a travel schedule that gives me the shakes – although I have to say I envy his island-hopping through the West Indies, which sounds fun even though I doubt my back would let me get away with it. He is a protean talent, a top-drawer performer and something of a beacon for a new generation of watershapers.

Then there’s Dave Penton (see “Embracing a Vision”), who stays closer to home and plies his trade as a watershape contractor almost exclusively in Los Angeles and Orange counties in southern California. He’s defined an unusual niche for himself as the go-to guy when it comes to complex, high-stakes projects, lots of them perched atop steep canyon walls. He flat-out knows his stuff and is a master when it comes to system efficiency.

Last and far from least is tile expert Jimmy Reed (see “Swiss Precision”). He’s another part-time globetrotter – which, when you think about it, is pretty amazing with a business focused so heavily on the personal skills of its staff. He sees a potential in tile that few others perceive, and the beauty of the results is, in my experience, simply beyond compare.

Having just one of these gents on a project makes a statement. Having all three is, from my vantage point as an observer of the industry, an opportunity that knocked so loudly that we at WaterShapes couldn’t give it anything less than our full editorial attention.

And as I mentioned up top, this package has been in the works for a long, long time. I first spoke with Jimmy about his part of the project almost two years ago and would have gone ahead and published the result as a solo feature long ago had he not suggested that I should talk with Shane and Dave to see what they had to add.

I had to laugh, because I knew I could catch Shane from time to time when he was within reach. But I’d been trying to get an article going with Dave for many moons at that point and opined that it might not happen. But Jimmy said he could organize things and finally did set up a conference call for which he and Dave were available but which Shane couldn’t join. “No problem,” I said. I knew I’d be in touch with Shane at some point.

So here, two years after the idea first surfaced, is a trio of stories worthy of occupying all three feature slots in this edition of WaterShapes. As their articles demonstrate, Shane, Dave and Jimmy are all pretty matter-of-fact about what they’ve accomplished – and that’s perfectly in character for them as experienced, professional collaborators.

For me, however, this is a mind-blowing combination that, I think, says a ton about how far the watershaping industry has come in the past 20-odd years – and how much more potential it has as more and more professionals figure out new ways to approach doing business for themselves and with others.

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