While comparing two people can be like comparing apples to oranges, bringing those people together may be as simple as giving them apples and oranges.
That is the vision of David Allen Burns and Austin Young, who travel the country to plant fruit trees and put together historical art exhibitions in various communities as part of a project they call Fallen Fruit.
In the lower level of the Wexner Center of the Arts, the duo installed floral wallpaper decorated with photographs and memorabilia to represent the history of Columbus.
In addition, on April 23 and April 29, Burns and Young will plant apple trees in the Weinland Park Berry Patch and South Side Fruit Park, respectively.
“Fruit does some funny things, it’s just very neutral, everyone’s OK with it, and that’s the same thing with fruit parks,” Burns said. “You’re not going to protest against an apple, so it’s a gift, it’s always a gift. It’s a universal gift and that’s true for everybody, it doesn’t matter if you’re 3 years old or 99.”
Fallen Fruit is a collaborative effort that began in 2004 in Los Angeles by as a way to use public space to improve the community, Young said.
“(We are) sharing fruit in public space,” Young said. “Questioning if we can use public space for something like sharing a resource, instead of planting ornamental trees that don’t do anything.”
Burns said the floral-decorated wallpaper was custom-made for the city of Columbus and the pattern for the design was inspired by photographs taken in the South Side and Weinland Park.
“It’s expected you’re getting a wallpaper if you invite us to your city,” Burns said. “We were interested in creating an exhibition that speaks back to the neighborhoods which we are introducing a new thing … so the gallery itself is in conversation with the work we’re doing in these two sites.”
Hanging on the wall on top of the wallpaper are historic photographs from Columbus during the Depression era which were retrieved from the Ohio History Connection and the Library of Congress. Burns said the photographs they chose were unusual because they portray groups of average people doing leisure activities in a turbulent time when cameras were usually reserved for the rich.
“One of the things that’s unique about these photographic archives is that in the Depression era, really until the 1950s, you don’t see snapshots — they just don’t exist,” Burns said. “It’s the people documenting the people of their neighborhood enjoying activities that illustrates what is going on during the Depression.”
Young said the images were found in boxes labeled “black” and “white” based on the race of the people photographed, so the two hung the pictures on the wall in that same fashion, meeting in the center. In an effort to resemble the era further, Young said the two included kitchen plates found at thrift stores that might have been used in 20th century homes.
However, despite the separation, the way Columbus took care of its people from the Depression into present day is something that distinguishes it from other cities, Young said.
“I’ve noticed coming here that Columbus takes care of people in a different way than we’ve seen in other cities,” he said. “These were all (pictures of) disenfranchised youth that needed help, so (the city) did theater productions, sent them to summer camps, did all sorts of activities and they were so well-documented.”
The two will be planting trees with volunteers in Weinland Park, located on 1550 N. Fourth St. on April 23 and South Side Park, located on 337 to 399 Reeb Ave. on April 29. Young said all are welcome and encouraged to help plant trees with the community.
The wallpaper will be on display in the lower level of The Wex until May 7.
Correction: A previous version of this article said tree planting at South Side Park would take place on April 30. In fact, it will be on April 29.