Written by Louise Gallagher.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself. William Blake, 1799, The Letters

Today is a big day at the DI, especially for Reg, one of the client artists who frequents the art studio. Today, his book, Reg’s Trees, will be launched.

Reg’s Trees is, in Reg’s words, “a book of magic called Art.” It’s not just the content that’s magical, it’s the concept and the path the book took to become ‘real’ that is magical.

Reg loves to paint trees. Well, actually, Reg loves to paint, trees are one of his favourite subjects. Trees have roots. Trees have arms that reach to the sky. Trees have history, a story, a life. Trees tell their stories in the leaves they drop, the blossoms they bloom, the shelter they offer to whomever stops beneath their leafy embrace. Trees are a story.

Reg’s Trees tells the story about what can happen when men of imagination give into their nature to create.

Reg’s Trees was created from ‘found’ objects — one of Reg’s favourite art forms. Another client rescued ten wooden tablets from a certain death in a garbage pile when he saw a yard sale owner about to chuck the tablets away at the end of his sale. Knowing of Reg’s yen for found objects, he asked if he could have the tablets. The yard sale owner agreed quickly. He carried the 8″ x 5″ blocks of wood back to the studio at the shelter and presented them to Reg. Reg, delighted to have new found objects, painted over the old photographs laminated to the blocks of wood. Trees appeared.

One day, a poet, David van Belle, was at the shelter working on a play he was producing on homelessness. David admired Reg’s trees. Reg, never shy, asked David if he’d be willing to write a poem for each tree. David quickly agreed.

A woman named Dawn came from the City of Calgary, Arts and Culture, Recreation to visit. “Can you help us connect with homeless artists so that we can build stronger community?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” we replied.

We opened our doors to the This is My City project and magic happened.

In appreciation, Dawn, along with the This is My City project gifted the publication of Reg’s Trees.

Today, Reg will see his work in print. David, the poet, will have his first book of poetry published. And for all the artists, and everyone else at the DI, we will have a chance to celebrate the magic that happens when we let go of disbelief and fall into the certitude and aclchemy of magic all around.