June 16, 2007

House and Garden

June 2007


When James Schamus, the CEO of Focus Features, wanted to create a path for his family through the woods in Columbia County, New York, he called on landscape architect and artist Jon Piasecki, who had worked on Schamus’s garden. It was a rewarding choice. Piasecki has studied forest ecology, landscape architecture, and, equally important, Bronze Age stonework and earth magic. Working on the path, he discovered small piles of rocks and scattered Native American artifacts. Inspired by these mysterious piles and the rich history of the land, he created sculptures from materials found on-site. Large mounds of stones stacked about three feet high, a wood sculpture suspended between two trees, and a mobile of about a hundred small rocks dangling from branches mark the hilly path. Encountering them as you climb can be slightly unnerving. These objects are at once strikingly beautiful and a bit eerie a not so subtle reminder that even though you may be walking by yourself, you are not alone.

Piasecki’s projects, through his landscape architecture firm Golden Bough in western Massachusetts, fuse all of his passions. Practicing what he calls a “do no harm approach,” the enthusiastic Piasecki, who won the prestigious Rome Prize in 2004, plants mostly natives and almost never uses heavy machinery.

“I let nature be my guide,” he says of his organic process, which often comes to fruition while he’s outside in the garden. On the woody path animals and plants, and especially history, are all around you. This is exactly what Piasecki hopes to invoke through his work. “I want to connect people ecologically and culturally to the land,” lie says. “I want to give new life to forgotten things.”