BY Lisa Morgan –
“This is what we do,” the Basalt Man said as he led me outside into the desert’s brutal summer heat. Before me stood what appeared to be a stone pillar, projecting five feet above a small bed of river rock, cool water springing from within it cascading down around its beautiful, weather worn fissures and crevices, drawing out the light and dark colors of its natural terracotta exterior. As I gazed at it longingly, I found myself pressing my hand against the cool stone, letting my hand become part of the fountain. Oddly enough, the first descriptive word that popped into my overheated head was “therapy.” I would have hugged it if I didn’t have an audience. Composing myself, I drew back my hand, and asked a simple question that would take me on a completely intriguing, thirty year expedition into the life of this fountain’s creator. I asked, quite ineloquently, “So, you make these?”
Like every artist who has paid dearly for his art, you have to start at the beginning of his story, to truly understand how he has come to master his craft. Greg Trenschel began honing his skills at the early age of 16. Quickly becoming a master mason, tile, concrete and brick artisan, Greg found himself creating beautiful pool-scapes and designs for homes of the rich and famous. He has done work for basketball player Jason Kidd and comedian Steve Martin. His portfolio includes a gorgeous mosaic of boxing gloves at the bottom of Oscar De La Joya’s pool and his work has been seen at Shaquille O’Neal’s home on the television show “Cribs.” A surfer at heart, Greg was on top of the world living, surfing and creating among the California coast’s elite. But, as life would have it, things took a drastic change.
With a combination of circumstances, a painful divorce and a staggering economy, Greg found himself at a life time low, having to rebuild himself and his livelihood from scratch. In recalling this chapter of his life, the painful memories are still evident as he pushes himself onward with his story. One day, while he was healing himself out on the water as many surfers do, he met a sweet, beautiful, woman, Lori Gonzales, on the beach. She too was an artist and was in the process of rebuilding after divorce. In each other, they found mutual inspiration, encouragement and courage. They made a brave leap and moved to the Coachella Valley together, to build a new life. With each other to lean and depend on, they created a new thriving business that is launching like a geyser in the world of landscape and interior design. They call it Basalt Man. Together, they aim to change lives and set spirits free with the art of basalt rock and water.
Inspired by local, infamous stone sculptor, Roger Hopkins, and a unique volcanic rock formed from the rapid cooling of basaltic lava, Greg discovered an artistic niche. With an uncanny ability to mimic the beauty of this one of a kind stone with light-weight materials, Basalt Man has engineered a stone-like fountain that literally cannot be differentiated by the naked eye from natural stone. What would take two grown men to deliver carved from stone, can easily be carried by one, while still heavy and sturdy enough to bear the wind and weather. These beautiful fountains that would cost thousands of dollars in real stone and require heavy equipment to move are now made accessible for a few hundred dollars. Each fountain is created individually and lovingly by Greg and Lori, Lori sewing the framework together, Greg applying his masterful and hard earned, artisan touches. Having hand made his latex molds on our own, beautiful, desert, mountain rocks, these hand mixed, concrete fountains are individually carved and stained using Classic stain, his experienced eye and hand, giving it the individual and authentic look and feel of true stone.
The product was love at first sight for the major retail store, Southwest Boulder. Now that they carry their product, Greg and Lori find themselves challenged to keep product on the shelves. Basalt Man is now in over 20 nurseries across the state in only eight months of production and that number continues to grow. As the production of these remarkable pieces of water art increases, the dream of this artist also grows. It is Basalt Man’s goal to be able to allow Greg to apply his technique and focus to more custom pieces, such as rock-scapes, waterfalls and more uniquely shaped and inspired pieces of rock and water art. Greg also envisions water pieces worked with glass and light.
For Basalt Man, there is nothing standing in the way of those dreams becoming a reality. How do I know? Well, I learned an important lesson from Greg Trenschel and Lori Gonzales ~ a lesson that I will fondly remember every time I look at my own beautiful, Basalt Man fountain; If there are seemingly immoveable rocks blocking the pathway to your dreams, summon up all of your courage, all of your love and all of your determination, press forward and then redesign those damn rocks into something moveable, beautiful, creative and treasured.
Basalt Man is available for custom designs as well as the fountains debuting in the photos here.
For more information about Basalt Man, go to www.loribasaltman.webs.com or call (760) 534-2207.
They are located at 166 San Rafael Place in Palm Springs on the corner of Indian Canyon & San Rafael Way in the alley behind Tuscany Showroom.