Root's Gallery turns the old into new

by Barbara Simon
he ability to create something from nothing can be construed an art, and, in the case of David Root, this is doubly so. A young artist dedicated to "Urban Art," and "A Usable Past," David has arrived via Root's Gallery in the Normal Heights area of San Diego. The gallery contains a hair salon, floral shop and art gallery. Root explains that the present trend is old, that his motivating philosophy concerns slowing down, returning to nature and returning to the earth and to our roots. One way to do this is to enjoy and appreciate the old, usable past, he says.
A visitor to Root's Gallery will see sculptures, dried flower arrangements in a variety of containers including scrap metal, lamps created from reused materials, fresh flower arrangements and miscellaneous items recovered after years, perhaps decades, from someone's garage.

Unique decor

The decor of the gallery also can be referred to as the outdoor "countrified ranch hand chic look." He was inspired in November when he visited a beach in Seattle and discovered washed up piles of corroded metal. His first rusted metal sculpture was created there. Additional inspiration came from a visit to the "Urban Outfitters" shop, which was designed like a barn with rusted farm equipment, one wall of which was a mosaic of smashed aluminum cans. Root felt the need to expand from a home-based floral business, and when he lost his floral design job, he decided to open a gallery which combined all three of his interests.
Root emphasizes that his prices are reasonable for one-of-a-kind designs, considering his level of artistic talent. He says he can offer such prices because his material costs are so low. Everyone wins, Root says, including the customer, because of his reuse of found items. Gallery visitors are guaranteed a story relating to each sculpture or found item.
By featuring local guest artists each month, the gallery creates a different atmosphere for returning salon customers and other visitors. The back-to-nature reverence for the old and exquisite floral arrangements remain visible in addition to the works of the guest artists.

Root's inspiration

Root's background progresses from childhood musician to award-winning floral arranger to usable past artist and sculptor. Root has been a musician since the age of six, beginning with the piano, then the trumpet. He played the French horn in the Army band while serving in Hawaii. Upon discharge from the Army, Root settled in San Diego, where he attended cosmetology school. He has been a hairdresser 11 years.
Root's interest in flowers began six years ago when he assisted as a volunteer on a Rose Parade float. Since then, he has attended floral design courses at Southwestern College and Cuyamaca College. In December, he was hired to work on the Nu-Skin-sponsored float, "Beauty and the Beast," the prize-winner in the Best Fantasy category.
Root has earned more than 75 awards and prizes for his floral designs, including "1992 Floral Designer of the Year" at the Del Mar Fair. He won three Best of Show ribbons four years ago as an amateur, and many awards in the professional category annually since then. His talents have been utilized by all types of organizations, including the Home Depot Expo, Lloyd's furniture store, and San Diego Home & Garden magazine.
A request to prepare arrangements for a wedding spearheaded Root's professional floral career, inspiring him to bring floral designs from school to work and sell them to clients. Root has free-lanced for other floral businesses during the two years prior to opening his own floral shop/art gallery in June.
His versatility ranges from standard arrangements to custom designs. He has harvested from a customer's garden to make a unique floral arrangement. "I can fit a customer's needs with my artistic abilities," he says. Root utilizes a unique selection of various materials in his floral design that would be difficult to find elsewhere. He augments his supply with purchases from the floral industry.

An invitation

Root suggests that readers who know of unwanted rusted barbed wire contact him. Other items he uses are rusted metals, distressed and weathered wood, old chairs and funky furniture, shutters, doorknobs, bamboo and old paned windows. In addition, readers cleaning out garages and storage areas may wish to call Root regarding his interest in items no longer wanted.
Who knows what artistic treasures slumber in the dust, marking time until a David Root awakens them to greet a new dawn and newer life?

Barbara Simon has worked for ten years in social services for the County of San Diego. Barbara initiated a recycling program for her condominum complex.