By Sarah Phelan
Nothing draws attention to the beauty of an oak tree better than a bunch of nudes draped across its naked branches, their soft curves pressed into the tree’s whorly bark. And trees are, to quote famed nature photographer Jack Gescheidt, “a beautiful miracle that provides shade but that we take for granted.”
Famous for his portraits of nudes
on and among trees, Gescheidt has decided to step into the midst of the debacle surrounding the threatened Memorial Oak Grove at UC Berkeley by taking a photograph using a bunch of nude volunteer models. And by bunch, he means hundreds and hundreds of people.
“I can accommodate 400 to 500 people,” says Gescheidt, noting that this is the first time he’s had advance press for a nude photo, but this time it’s inevitable since this in an existing situation full of tree sitters, university officials, athletes and of course, the trees.
“The trees will help remind me to stay grounded, that there is no rush, and that this is an opportunity for meditation,” says Gescheidt. “I’m a simple guy, but the reason I’m getting involved is that it’s clear there is an alternative to cutting the trees down.”
Save the Oaks organizer Doug Buckwald says people are staying in the trees, even though there is a temporary injunction against removing the trees, “because UC Berkeley has announced that it still plans to cut down the trees and build a stadium.”
“They must have sat in a room and said, what’s the one thing we could do to anger everyone in Berkeley,” says Buckwald of the decision to cut down this grove of 38 mature coast live oaks, which is home to countless squirrels, birds and insects, and frequented by a “wonderfully playful pair of red foxes.”
As for UC Berkeley 3 for I promise to plant three trees for every one axed, Buckwald is unimpressed.
There is no comparison between young sapling s with about 100 leaves and mature trees with 10,000 to 100,000 leaves,” he says. ‘What matters is biomess, which creates more niches and more space for organisms. If you cut down a wonderful old tree, there’s no way you can replace that by planting 3 saplings, or even 10 for that matter, since they take 80-200 years to grow.”
To take part in Gesheidt’s naked photo, meet at the Memorial Oak Grove at 8:30 am.
For instructions to the Grove
go to www. savetheoaks.com and click on the “Find the Grove” button.