Dear friend and longtime Artmonk and naturalist John Benjamin (who will be co-leading this summer’s Artmonk Retreat) emerged from the neighboring forest here at Art Monastery Vermont, bearing a mystical gift! The Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum) is a funghi that grows in forests in the northeast, offering out what looks like a snow white surface of polypores (that means the mushroom has pores instead of gills or teeth).
Also known as the Artist’s Palette of the Forest, the lucky discoverer of this beautiful creature (or the extra lucky friend of the discoverer!) can use a sharp object such as a stick, a pencil, a knife, or, in my case, a knitting needle, to draw into the clean white surface. This drawing must be made within the first 24 hours after the funghi is plucked, as it begins to dry out and mark making becomes increasingly difficult. As time passes, the mushroom will dry and naturally preserve itself.
On the back of the funghi you can see rings that mark the age like that of a tree.
I take this as a sign that this summer’s location for Art Monastery Vermont is in the right place — with abundant support from the land!
For more info on the Artist’s Conk, check out The Mushroom Forager.