Street Art For The Forest!

Giant tree smiley is uplifting passing drivers with a beautiful message.

Nov 15, 2021
Street Art For The Forest! | Giant tree smiley is uplifting passing drivers with a beautiful message.

Whatever its style, art is rarely without a message. And a huge smiley made from trees,  greeting drivers from a forested hillside near the Oregon coast, is no different. This eye-catching and uplifting example of street art is drawing attention to the importance of sustainability in a lighthearted way.

Living art with a backstory
The two eyes and wide grin of this street art in rural Polk County, between the towns of Grand Ronde and Williamina, is actually a work in progress. 

This giant, living installation, which has a diameter of some 300 feet,  was designed and planted in 2011 by Hampton Lumber on its timberland during a reforestation of the area, The Oregonian details

This is a company that has built sustainability into its work ethic, with sustainability certification from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative in the US and Canada. 

Its foresters, its website explains, “manage our forestland to help meet the need for raw wood materials without compromising long-term habitat values or our ability to continue the cycle of growth and harvest for generations to come. ”

Company Spokesperson, Kristin Rasmussen, reveals that they don’t rest on their laurels, but are always trying to stay ahead of the green curve:  “After every harvest, our foresters start planning the reforestation process,” to ensure regrowth of a healthy forest. “They typically plant a variety of native tree species depending on the elevation and soil conditions, including Douglas fir, western hemlock, noble fir and western red cedar,” she adds.

How was this giant happy tree smiley created?
To create the color contrast, the eyes and mouth were planted with Douglas fir. The “yellow” body of the smiling face was created by planting larch trees. Larch trees are conifers with needles that yellow and drop in autumn to save nutrients to be used later.

When Hampton Lumber’s co-owner, David Hampton, and the then-timberland manager, Dennis Creel, initiated this display, planting crews used a rope to plot the circle, and to triangulate the location for the smiley’s eyes and mouth.

Rasmussen, also shared with that “When we harvested the site, we knew the area was highly visible to people traveling down highway 18 so David and Dennis saw an opportunity to have a little fun.” But she is honest about how the team had to toil for their art: “let’s just say smiley face designs are not the most efficient reforestation methods out there. With planning and planting it took about a week to finish.”

Smiling into the future
As The Oregonian reports: ”The smiley face should return each fall for the next 30-50 years, until the trees are ready to be harvested and processed into lumber at Hampton’s sawmills in Willamina and Tillamook.”

Because the smiley face is a living, breathing work of art, it is ageing naturally too. admits that as Douglas fir grows a little faster than larch, it will eventually blur the shape and definition of the lines in the coming years. And a Reddit member quoted on The 98.3 Key  observes that the coloring has slightly dulled through the years. 

But for anyone passing the massive hillside smiley face as they head back to the Oregon capital, Salem, from the coast, this unusual roadside treat always prompts a smile in return.

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Taste Nature’s Delicious Flavors With Home-Delivered Foraged Food
Taking Forests Into the Future


Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.