I am fortunate to work with Philip di Giacomo, an unparalleled rock artisan, on a regular basis and learn not only his techniques, but also the inspiration and theory behind his art pieces.
When working on a new feature, di Giacomo’s first questions are not about location, grading, site conditions, or even cost. His primary focus in the beginning and throughout the entire project is on the end user. What can he offer the child playing on this playground, or the elderly couple with grandchildren in this backyard that will bring them closer and expose them to new adventures and experiences? He takes the time to learn about the owners and creates a work of art that caters to their needs.
di Giacomo and I are currently working on maquettes for the Pika Peak and Marmot Mountain features at the new Denver Botanic Mordecai Children’s Garden. Mundus Bishop created a great interactive design for children to explore and learn. We turned their initial drawings into a 3-dimensional art piece, bringing it to life with the children in our own lives in mind.
While keeping the geomorphisis of rock in mind, with proper rift, grain, hard grain, and talus, we are striving to bring a new experience to the children who visit the garden, molding each feature into an artfully educational experience. Instead of just a cave for children to explore, di Giacomo explains the need to have sunlight enter the cave so that children can explore in a non-intimidating environment; and the need to make it just deep enough for adventure, without parents losing the ability to see their children.
Peek holes overlooking the mountains to the west are created via a descending fissure in the rock. This allows for children from 2 to 14 to be able to share in the experience and interact with the person next to them since they are all sharing one view. Taking these kinds of details into consideration along with the proper aging and weathering of rocks will produce the desired affect every time.
It is an honor to work with di Giacomo. He is an active member of society, a grandfather, and an artist. He is proof that no matter what the medium, successful art positively impacts the viewers’ quality of life.