If you would like to visit Griffith Park’s brand new tea house, you should probably do it soon. The art project, which was installed a month ago, has a very uncertain future.
At 5 am on June 30, a few dozen people gathered in the pre-dawn darkness in response to simple wooden invitations, asking them to meet in Griffith Park for tea and wishes. Upon arrival, the guests found tea cups, LED lights and a map, directing them along the path to Mt. Bell.
The map lead to the freshly installed Griffith Park Tea House, brought into existence by an artist’s collective. No official permission for the project has been granted, so the artist wish to remain anonymous.
Participants enjoyed a tea ceremony to open the Tea House as the sun rose, enjoying the spots incredible views of the Verdugos and the San Gabriel mountains.
The Tea House is only 80 square feet and is made from the singed wood of trees devastated in the 2007 Griffith Park fire. The structure was left after the ceremony, a gift from the artists to the people of LA.
The Tea House was designed with the help of professional craftspeople, ensuring that the structure is sound. It makes use of an old concrete foundation found at the spot, likely the remnants of an old utility shack.
The inspiration came from frequent trips into the park, a visit to Japan and a love of tea. The wood for the structure came from trees killed in the fire as well as redwoods that the park has removed because they are a non-native species that require a lot of water. The design of the Tea House was dependent on the amount and size of the wood that was available. No trees were cut down for the project, instead the group used wood which was already dead and on the ground.
The roof is inspired by Japanese lines, the structure has many windows to ensure a good view of the surrounding park and mountains. The finishing touch, carvings of griffins, partially inspired by the parks red-tailed hawks. A small bell can be rung for ceremony or fun.
At the opening ceremony, guests were given small pieces of wood, to write a wish for the city. The pieces are hung all over the Tea House, with wishes for peace, love, happiness and all the Lego sets. Some bear pictures instead of words, some are memorials, making beautiful and moving decorations for a unique little house.
The Department of Recreation and Parks is still unsure of the fate of the Tea House. It may stay where it is, be moved to another part of the park or become a travelling art piece. A petition to allow it to remain has been launched. [link to petition: https://www.change.org/p/david-e-ryu-tom-labonge-eric-garcetti-la-city-parks-la-mayor-s-office-keep-the-griffith-park-tea-house-standing]
In the mean time, visitors are enjoying the Tea House. One has left a small jar of oolong tea
with a note for others to help themselves. It is clear that this piece of guerrilla art is quickly becoming a favourite of visitors to Griffith Park.