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Great State: The Lampscaper

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- If you look at life like a grid, very few lay out in perfectly straight lines. Making the pieces fit together requires a little planning and in Randy Marks' case, a little chipping too. "I'm thinking about the pattern of the rock," he says as he lays out a stone deck in northwest OKC.

So maybe it IS fitting that Marks is here to shape the landscape around a whole group of modern homes near 56th and Western, to help it fit in with its natural setting. He says the idea is, "how do we create landscapes using largely native plants."

We first met Randy in 1996 at a small company he started called Independent Vision. He and a dozen employees did pretty well making interesting lamps. It was a bright idea that lasted several years. But the floor moved beneath his feet. Those good ideas also produced cheap copies. "Various Chinese companies liked that idea and wanted to make those lamps too," he says.

Just as no path is perfectly straight, no plant grows straight up toward the sun. Randy's Independent Vision blurred into a career in art, and then to an artist retreat where he discovered that spending all his time indoors was no way to live. "My change into this was really kind of an evolutionary process over a period of years" says Marks."

Randy went back to school. Then he came home and formed another company. Groundwork is a landscaping business with a green edge to it. Marks' work now involves making his landscapes fit with Oklahoma's ever changing environment. Standing in another OKC front yard Marks explains, "The clients wanted to make their property as productive in food production as possible so we have what is essentially an urban farm."

From light bulbs to the full light of day. Inspirations comes in many forms. Someone like Randy Marks has seen the light a bunch of times, and he's still following wherever it leads.

The website for Groundwork is http://www.groundworkapplieddesign.com