A ‘Forest'-Themed Immersive Show to Sprout in DTLA

Artist Glenn Kaino's "A Forest for the Trees" grew from a series of stories in "The Atlantic."

Artur Debat

Trees are wonders, from their phenomenal, communication-cool root systems to the tiny tips of their newly sprouted leaves. They can weather decades, and sometimes centuries, facing fire, drought, temperature extremes, overuse, overlove.

But finding a veritable woodland in a well-established downtown, one that sports its own forest of glassy skyscrapers?

The woodsy wonders, as epic and surprising as they can be, aren't known for seeding some of humanity's most densely populated areas.

But a fanciful forest will grow in DTLA, beginning around the middle of May, when "A Forest for the Trees," artist Glenn Kaino's new immersive experience, opens in an indoor space.

True, indoor spaces are also areas we don't associate with forests, but this whimsical woodland is full of art, ideas, and inspiration.

That inspiration?

It hails from "The Atlantic" magazine, and a 2021 series called "Who Owns America's Wilderness?" as well as the publication's ongoing coverage of issues springing from our relationship to nature.

"The show is steeped in histories inspired by the people closest to the forests and nearby Los Angeles neighborhoods: from an immersive interactive fire illusion referencing the controlled burns that are central to Native forest stewardship, to the symbolic resurrection of an iconic 144-year-old tree from Olvera Street felled by a recent storm," shares the team behind the experience. 

"'A Forest for the Trees' will share transformative stories through spectacular illusions, bringing together art, music, and story in surprising new ways to create an experience filled with meaning and purpose."

Superblue, the artist-minded enterprise, is presenting the ethereal attraction in partnership with "The Atlantic" and the artist, while Mastercard is sponsoring the show, which will begin its limited run on May 13.

Dakota and Lakota teacher Breanne Luger was a writer on the epic project, and David Siteck, a Grammy-award winning musician and producer, provided the stirring soundtrack.

ThunderVoice Eagle, "whose work explores conditions of memory and the sacred, carrying on the lineage of sustainable, hand-crafted Native fashion through unique collaborations between Native cultures," is creating the store, which will be found on-site.

So where will this interior adventure grow once it has taken root in DTLA? (And by "interior" we mean the inside of a building, yes, but also the deep and limitless well that exists within your nature-loving heart.)

Discovering a mystical forest, a sylvan and possibly ensorcelled space full of meaning and momentum toward a better future, usually requires a map printed on some enchanted piece of parchment.

But the capacious space has already been revealed, no parchment required: It's flowering at Ace Mission Studios, located at 516 South Mission Road.

Once they've arrived, forest seekers should expect to enter a leafy wonderland "hidden inside a 28,000-square-foot space in downtown Los Angeles," an indoor-outdoor fantasia brimming with beautiful details, stirring moments, and places for reflection on the bigger questions regarding how we live with, and honor, the natural world.

"I have worked my entire career to build the tools and relationships that have allowed me to embark upon a project of this unprecedented scale and ambition, both conceptually and formally," Kaino said.

"Intergenerational problems of this magnitude require new thinking and new models about how we bring together traditional ecological knowledge and advanced technology."

"It is my hope that this show can provide inspiration into how to connect and contribute to some of the most pressing issues of our time, in a dynamic and exciting way that our audience can take home with them."

"A Forest for the Trees" will be open Wednesday through Sunday, starting on May 13, 2022, for a limited time. Tickets will range from $10-$50, and children are welcome.

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