Favorite Spot: The Pavilion in the Trees by Martin Puryear
Neighborhood: Fairmount Park
Address: It’s hard to find, but it’s close to the Japanese Tea House
I Am: A museum professional from Fairmount who loves animals and Philadelphia
Years in Philly: 3
Current Home: Fairmount
My Love Note
Dear Pavilion in the Trees,
I remember the day we met. It was completely by accident. After a nice bike ride to the Japanese House, my boyfriend and I found ourselves wandering around the Horticultural society. Being a social media-savvy lady, I went to check in on FourSquare. I was immediately notified that I shouldn’t miss the Pavilion in the Trees. Having no idea what you were, we set out to find you using the Horticultural Society’s maps.
This was easier in thought than in practice. We went in circles upon circles, spirals, traipsed through mud, then through paths that had not been maintained for years. But despite the bugs, and my muddy sandals, we persevered, trying to keep the overall shape of the map at the trail’s entryway in our mind so we could find you around a large bend. A chipmunk ran across our true path and scared me, but I knew we were headed the right direction.
When I came upon you, you stretched out into the trees like a beautiful suspended bridge in the jungle. A couple came out when they saw us; clearly, many private moments happen in this treetop refuge. We embarked across the bridge and to a sort of miraculous wooden enlarged birdcage, where we were suspended over the foliage. Birds sang all around us, welcoming us to their view. Lush greenery abounded, and we hardly knew where one tree ended and another began in this cacophonous canopy.
I listened to what Museum Without Walls had to say about your structure. I immediately attached to your theme of a utilitarian motive, rather than an artistic one. Looking at art day in and out as I do, one becomes jaded regarding easy aesthetic choices and flourishes for the sake of being decorative. They are so ubiquitous as to become expected at times. But you are beauty without ornamentation, combined with a poetic simplification of a treehouse, turning a childhood love into a hallway in a dreamscape.
You are my favorite public work in Philadelphia, a city which is lucky to have one of the most robust public art programs in the country. I am at peace, restful, and contemplative in the treetop, and often notice that other visitors wait for me to leave before beginning on their journey to your floating cage. You demand a bit of reverence from everyone, like an adoration chapel in a church. We wait for one another to come out, and respect the quiet natural otherworldliness that, for a moment, causes one to reflect on the absolute absurdity that such solitude can be achieved within a city.
You are a beautiful, delightful conundrum that solidly exists in a place primarily known for its colonial history and cheesesteaks. You show us the wildlife and nature that we have worked so hard to preserve, and sometimes, we are able to invite the public in and succeed in awing them with the loveliness in the woods in our city.
And for that, I love you.
Always and Forever,