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Frank Trueba "Circus Tree"
Frank Trueba "Circus Tree"

Axel Erlandson and his Tree Circus

Axel Erlandson, born in 1884 was a bean farmer outside of Turlock, CA. Sometime in the 1920’s, inspired by observing a natural graft between two sycamore trees, he began to shape trees. His self-named “Tree Circus” opened in Scotts Valley in the spring of 1947 and this collection of unusual trees eventually made appearances in Ripley's "Believe-It-or-Not," "Life" magazine, and other publications throughout the 1950s.

Axel, who died in 1964, left behind a legacy of 74 spectacular trees, shaped into assorted structures, including hearts, lightning bolts, basket weaves and rings. The trees languished and many began to die. In 1984, Michael Bonfante, bought the remaining 29 trees and transplanted all of them to the site of amusement park outside of Gilroy. Today, 19 of the remaining coiled, scalloped and spiral shaped Sycamores, Box Elders, Ash and Spanish Cork trees serve as the centerpiece for a horticulturally based theme park called Bonfante Gardens Family Theme Park.

The tree represented in this print is known as the Sycamore Tower or Basket Tree. Axel planted six sycamore trees in a circle, topped them all at one foot then grafted them together to form the diamond patterns (there are 42 different connections that give the tree its basket shape). Many consider this tree one of Axel's most balanced creations and it is currently thriving at Bonfante Gardens

Print Exchange Two

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Print Exchange One Details
Print Exchange Two Details

Medium: silkscreen
Paper Type: Rives BFK
Edition: 12
Image Size: 8.5” x 6.25”
Paper Size: 10” x 7.5”
Ink Used: water-based acrylic silkscreen inks

 

 

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