I wanted to follow up on my visit to Dave’s Avant Garden last week. I had a great time checking out Dave’s rock stacks.

Dave is passionate about rocks like no one I’ve met before. When he’s working with them, you can see him sort of talking to them in his mind. He gets a sense of their weight, their firmness when put into position, their “aliveness.” Dave, for example, just doesn’t pick up rocks. He says “they follow me home.”

Like most artists, he likes to name his works. “Here’s Napolean Blownapart.” “This is Conversation Pit #4c.” “This is my family.”

Dave also does more than just the stacks. He creates other artworks out of old tree limbs and roots and other stuff. He often uses slender little bendy branches to create mini arches in the crotches of trees. It gives the tree the appearance of having ribs. It’s pretty cool.

Dave’s method is fairly simple. I don’t know how other people do it, but as we stacked rocks in the flowing waters of the Swannanoa River, he used a plastic bucket on its side as the form which we built around. I don’t know how he does it by himself – the two of us worked on three or four arches, and one in particular wouldn’t stay. It must be frustrating.

When you’re stacking, you start seeing rocks as spacers, as foundation rocks, and as keystones. Each has its purpose.

Dave gets mixed reactions from his neighbors and those he see his creations. Some people love it and encourage him to do more and ask him over to build rock stacks in their gardens. As Dave will tell you, his biggest fan club is the 60+ female – they’re hot for his rocks.

Others don’t get Dave. They just shrug and move on or tell him what he’s doing “isn’t natural,” like what we’re doing to the rest of the environment around us is. Still others get the impulse to either go out and knock down everything he’s done or steal his rocks. This makes no sense to me.

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