The January loss of Central Florida's 3,500 year old cypress tree known as the Senator was devastating for lovers of the record-setting tree. The outpouring of sadness from the community was tremendous and the story made the national news and the New York Times. I had no idea that folks cared so much for this behemoth that was already enormous 1,500 years before the birth of Christ. For me it showed that despite the actions of our state and local government, who seem to bend over backwards to allow developers to pave over the state's natural areas, people living here actually do care about the environment. So I found good in the disaster.
The tree, however, is a total loss, and Big Tree Park still remains closed. To honor the beloved tree, I created poster artwork and uploaded it to the Imagekind site to allow people to have a reminder of the great tree. A portion of the proceeds of any sale will be donated to the Friends of the Wekiva River, an organization that works to protect, preserve, and restore the natural functions and beauty of the Wekiva River here in Central Florida. The Wekiva is one of the areas last havens of wildness, and the pressures of development put its natural systems under great stress. In my opinion, it is our responsibility to maintain areas like this for future generations to enjoy.
Now a little about the poster. Based on an image I took of the Senator a few years ago, the piece is designed to look like a vintage travel poster that might have promoted the tree as an attraction around the turn of the century. The letters in the word "Senator" were hand-rendered, based on a vintage font found in a type specimen book. I used to do quite a bit of that in the days before computers. I then scanned in the artwork and re-drew it on the computer in Adobe Illustrator. Other archival elements like banners and corner elements were scanned in from different sources, to create this poster that celebrates the long period of time visitors have been drawn to this wonderful tree.
In addition to making me realize how much people really cared about the tree, the loss motivated me to get out and see some of the places right in my own backyard that I've taken for granted. I thought a tree that stood for 35 centuries would always be there. You never know when that place you've always intended to visit won't be around any more.