Bristlecone Pines at Cedar Breaks
Fred Truck has been a practicing visual artist for 40 years. Currently he focuses on 3D and HDR photography, but his art also spans many media including sculpture, prints, computer generated art, and art related software. In addition,Truck has practiced the art of bonsai cultivation for 20 years. His new book combines his photographic and bonsai esthetics with a new look, sixteen full color pictures of a rarely seen stand of Bristlecone Pines in a remote park in Utah.
Fred Truck's Bristlecone Pines at Cedar Breaks, published by The Electric Bank, c2011, 0-938236-17-2 is available for $21.95, softcover, $31.95 hardcover, 33.95 imagewrap from Blurb publishing or alibris.com.
Truck on Bristlecone Pines at Cedar Breaks:
I have been a bonsai enthusiast since 1990. At first, I started out with tropical trees, because I could keep them inside during our harsh Midwestern winters, but eventually I began working with junipers and flowering quince and other deciduous or broadleaf evergreen trees that required some kind of winter protection. Eventually, almost every bonsai enthusiast is inflamed with a desire to work with pine trees. In the last 20 years, the Ponderosa pine has become a staple for American bonsai, but nothing quite fires the imagination like the silhouette of the bristlecone pine.
I first became aware of bristlecone pines through bonsai, the art and science of dwarfing trees and growing them in pots. John Naka, one of the very earliest teachers of the Japanese school of bonsai to Americans, devotes a number of pages in Bonsai Techniques II to advising students how to style a pine tree like a bristlecone pine.
Over the next few years, the more I talked to other bonsai enthusiasts, the more convinced I became that of all North American pines, the bristlecone inhabited the shadowy archetype of the king of all. I say “shadowy archetype” because…
…where were the pictures? Where were the trees themselves?
Naka has a few photographs in his book, but high quality representations of bristlecones were in decidedly short supply. Part of the reason for this is that the bristlecone pine’s preferred habitat is so remote. Clustered on the very high desert of the southwest, even when the tree’s habitat is part of a national park, few vacationers seek them out.
The most accessible bristlecone pines are those in the White Mountains in California. As part of the Inyo National Forest, these trees are the ones that turn up most often in photographs. They are indeed picturesque, but often, a road turns up in the photos.
I actually had little choice as to where I saw my first bristlecone pine. Lorna and I took a long trip through the southwest in September of 2010. We saw some bristlecone pines on the Bristlecone Trail at Bryce Canyon in Utah, but I found the trees there disappointing. The following day, we had planned to go to Zion National Park, but when I found out that bristlecones could be found at Cedar Breaks National Monument, our plans changed.
I have yet to successfully incorporate the bristlecone pine image in my bonsai, but I have seen and photographed them. I extend their image to you through my book.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in the U.S. state of Utah near Cedar City. Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater canyon, stretching across 3 miles (4.8 km), with a depth of over 2,000 feet (610 m). The elevation of the rim of the canyon is over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level.
The eroded rock of the canyon is similar to formations at Bryce Canyon National Park, but has its own distinct look. Because of its elevation, snow often makes it inaccessible to vehicles from October through May. Its canyon-rim visitor center, tiny compared to the visitor centers at nearby and better-known Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, is open only from June through October, although park headquarters at a lower elevation in Zion is open the rest of the year. It is not as popular as some of the nearby National Parks, but several hundred thousand people do visit annually. The national monument area is the headwaters of Mammoth Creek, a tributary of the Sevier River.