Retired Oregon educator and artist Gwen Maitzen’s new art piece is meant to provide a place of prayer for the Earth and the environment.
Maitzen is a former representative on the Oregon School District school board and taught art at the high school for 16 years.
While the structure is on her own land, it adjoins Bethel Green Acre Park. The sculpture is accessible by way of the park on Burr Oak street.
“You will need to walk east in the park a wee bit and it will be on your right sort of hidden by a tree at first,” she said.
A decade ago, Maitzen built a wooden structure on the edge of her property with two posts and a cross beam, which was intended to represent the shape of the mathematical pi symbol. She felt the finished structure looked more like a torii – a sacred gate placed at shrines in the Shinto religion of Japan.
She said she wanted to do something more with the construction while at the same time create something inexpensive, but permanent. A couple months ago when a friend visited Maitzen and showed her some homemade prayer flags she was making for a garden, Maitzen was inspired.
She began to make fabric streamers from strips of cloth she had in her closet that she had planned to donate to St. Vincent de Paul. She said friends also donated fabrics to her once she got going on the project.
She said there are 100 streamers in all and she tied circular wooden weights to the bottom of each one to prevent tangling. The ends of the crossbeam are also adorned with strands of bells.
She said each streamer represents a prayer or good intention for the safety and health of the planet, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, and she created them hoping to bring some happiness and smiles to the people who visit.