By Jodell Scott
Starting on Thanksgiving weekend 2010 and building to a crescendo Valentine’s Day 2011, a Cyclone fence near the corner of Chenery and Diamond has been has steadily and beautifully “blooming” art.
It started with a single black and white painted wooden plaque stating, I love you, too, and over the next months blossomed.
You are enough
In all of my life I have never met anyone as beautiful as you.
The messages seemed to grow each night, with every walk down Diamond prompting a stop to appreciate the new appearances and to wonder what exactly they meant. Was it a public Valentine to a particular person (how sweet!) If not, what exactly was it?
A chance meeting revealed the artist as Shannon Weber, a social worker and mother of three who lives in a cozy Glen Park residence near the fence.
Her first fence piece, I love you, too was originally designed as a basketball backboard with a message aimed to her children. When attempting to hang it, she found the dimensions were all wrong, and came up with an idea. “I had been trying to grow flowers up that fence forever, but I lacked a water source, so I thought-what do I have? I have wood and I have paint, and that’s when I decided to hang the signs on the fence.”
At around the same time a Glen Park friend gave her the idea to start a blog site, www.loveyou2.org, where stories of love are posted and I love you sheets can be downloaded with I love you, too tear-off sections. These signs have been sighted all over the city and beyond, as documented on her blog site.
At first “I used to put the pieces out at night, when no one was looking, but then I thought-who am I to not give away love? The messages originally were intended for my children, but then I realized the words were going out into the universe and a little bit of hope could change people,” she says.
Shannon’s kids started getting involved, dragging recycled pieces of wood and glass home for “the fence.” When she was making the Love is louder piece, one of her sons took her aside to tell her that was a powerful message and no offense, but she needed to do a little more with it, and they finished the piece together.
The signs cover a broad range of sentiments. One is a quote from American poet Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Another a sign with writing made of antique sheet music, one side reading The bright side and the other side reading The wrong side.
“We all have the wrong side of the day, and I wanted to show my kids that the bright side can often be just on the other side.” she says. Two sides of another sign read, Give and Receive.
The fence is at times interactive, with a hanging clipboard and I love you sheets.
At Thanksgiving 2010, the prompt was I am thankful for… One post stated “I am thankful for the man who taught me to read when I was 5 years old, and I am now 79!”
At New Years the prompt was In 2011… and a post read: “I am not going judge myself anymore” and “I am going to dance!”
A post on Valentine’s Day, I love you because … was answered with “you show me the goodness in the world and help me share it.”
Just a week ago, the flowers in Shannon’s bottle vases were wilting and overnight were surprisingly replaced with fresh calla lilies by someone unknown, an act which delighted Shannon. “Calla lilies are my favorite flower in the universe! I’m going to walk around like the character in Somebody loves you, Mr. Hatch, wondering who you are,” she wrote on her blog.