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Archive for May, 2010

On May 6, the Oldham County History Center had a members’ opening for their Oldham County:  Life at the River’s Edge exhibit…which was actually several exhibits in one.  My sculptures played a part in the overall display and were integrated among the other exhibits.  I really liked the idea that my work (which included objects and images) would find a home among other examples of our material heritage.  Here are a few images from the event.  Once I got home and looked at the pictures, I realized I didn’t have any with people in them!  Yes, there were indeed people present and I enjoyed meeting and talking to them all!  Thanks for the beer and bar-be-que too!

Nancy Stearns Theiss, the center’s director, lives on by the Ohio River and so she recognizes the materials I use and where they come from.  She gathered up her own debris and put it in context with my work.  Nancy has a strong background in environmental education and recognizes what my project is attempting to do in a way that I must say gets overlooked in the usual art gallery context.

This was also the first time I have been able to show my Falls images, sculptures, and collected objects in the same exhibit.  I have always imagined that this would create the most interesting display.  The photo above is an example of this and includes my “Fake Food Collection” that I have gathered on the riverbank over the years.

Become a Trash Artist!  I guess there’s no denying that I’m one.  As an activity, materials were on hand if anyone felt the urge to make something that was encouraged.  My “3M Wasp” is hanging from the ceiling with fishing line.  This piece gets its name from the protective mask I found that looks to me just like an insect’s face.  Later during the summer, I will participate in a workshop making art from found materials.

Also on display was a Living Stream Touch Table, essentially an aquarium with native creatures that one might encounter in the local fresh water environment.  Among the animals in the tank include several species of native fishes, crayfish, frogs, and a small water snake.

The exhibit will be up until August and I look forward to returning and participating with the center again.  This final image is located on the center’s grounds and right next to an example of a root cellar.

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I knew we received a lot of rain…I can tell by how much makes it into the basement of our home.  I once thought it was the river’s way of trying to claim its own since I store many of my river finds there.  I have this mental image of Styrofoam and driftwood floating into my back yard from the bowels of my basement.  As much precipitation as we experienced, there must have been a heck of a lot more just northeast of us.  The river has been rising for days and will continue to do so for a few more.  Since yesterday, the river has essentially gone over the dam and large masses of driftwood and debris are flowing over.  Once the water recedes, I expect to find a completely different park.  I’ve put together a few images to give you a sense of the river rising over the last two days.  Let’s start with some larger views.

The rise can be seen from the height of the water on this Cottonwood tree.  Usually this tree is not touching the river.

This is the time of year when the Cottonwood trees release their fluff.  Wind catches this fuzz which harbors tiny seeds and disperses it everywhere.  In places cottony drifts are created.  Here is the broken tip of a branch showing how the Cottonwood tree earned its name. 

There are several places to access the riverbank at the park and one popular way is to use this set of wooden stairs.  The river, however, has covered the bottom two boards.  While I was there, I watched the surreal sight of a plastic castle go floating by!

Okay, here is the castle I mentioned…

…maybe I’ll find this thing later on as well as this huge Styrofoam chunk I saw yesterday!  Most of the pieces I find have been shaped by rubbing against driftwood in the water.  The abrasion creates these interesting biomorphic shapes I like to use in my sculpture.

Once the river crests, it will be a few days before I can get back down to the riverbank.  I heard it’s supposed to rain again this weekend.  In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the exhibit at the Oldham County Historical Center in LaGrange.  There’s a small reception Thursday night and I heard my pieces have been dispersed among the regular collection.  I’ll post from there next and try to give you a few views of the display.  Finally, here’s one more high water image I came across late today.

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The Kentucky Derby happened 24 hours a go, but the bigger regional story was all the rain we received.  I’ve said this before in this blog, the gentle spring rains of yesteryear seem like a thing from the past.  Now every storm is charged with energy and abundant water.  In the Louisville area totals for the last two days are 5 to 7 inches ( 12 to 17.75 cms).  In Nashville, TN there is wide spread flooding.  There was one period of a few hours on Saturday that things were just misty.  That was as good as our luck ran this weekend.  I took that opportunity to get my river fix and it was good for my peace of mind!

Since I fully expected the rain to just pound me at any moment, I kept my eyes open as I moved along the river.  I had the place nearly to myself which helped make the Falls seem larger.  The willow trees were in bloom and there were even a few nice birds around.  I quickly made a figure from available Styrofoam and sticks and I will now turn the narrative over to him.

Yeah…we moved as fast as my beaver-chewed willow legs would carry me over the wet and packed sand.  We checked out the various debris fields near the river and took pictures of the things that caught our attention.  We came across a lost arm lying next to a plastic bottle and I wondered who would lose an arm and not miss it?  I picked it up and examined it.

It’s a perfectly good arm, but I don’t want to carry it around and so I left it where it was found.  If I find out later that I have a need for it…I think I can remember where this spot is provided the river doesn’t rise and rearrange things again.  Certainly looks a lot greener now than the last time I dropped by.

Of late, I’ve taken an interest in the remains of old fires and camp sites.  It’s a test of observation and I like to learn what I can from the charcoal and ashes, but this one has been hit hard by the rain and we learn little.

A colorful, but ruined soccer ball lay before us. The leading edge of the river usually has a few balls of one kind or another in the mix.  We stopped for a few snapshots than went our merry way.  There were more things we could see laying on the sand a head of us that looked worth checking out.

I traded the blue ring around my neck for a larger one I could wear around my waist.  It could be used as a flotation device if necessary!  Walking the shoreline we came across this vignette…a still life of tulips.  It’s a partially buried plastic watering can and the river has revealed this picture for us!

Oh man!  We found that awful jar of baloney again.  Even the river doesn’t want this thing and keeps casting it back upon the shore.  The thought crosses my mind that this might make good catfish bait if I could stomach running a hook through this mystery meat.  I wonder if that giant bug-thing is around?

Like I mentioned earlier…we saw a few birds too!  Some of our warmer weather birds have returned.  I thought we had some better pictures, but I guess there was just too much water in the air.  We did come across a pair of Canada Geese with three goslings doing the same thing we were…namely investigating the riverbank.  Their young are very cute!

And, we saw three of our favorite bird species!  The Yellow Warblers have returned and we tried like crazy to get a decent shot of this bird singing away, but the images were kind of gray.  Also saw a Spotted Sandpiper (but missing its spots) heading north.  We will see those spots upon its return migration from near the Arctic circle.  Indigo Buntings seem plentiful and we were fortunate to watch Baltimore Orioles chasing one another through the trees.  Here’s a picture of a male oriole who was watching a female among the branches and not intent on us. 

With hope, the Scarlet Tanagers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks will be passing through soon.  I decided to hang out longer while that artist-guy went home.  I’ll be right here, unless someone else finds me first.

Well, that’s how our Derby Day went.  The rain stayed away long enough for the race to be run and by all reports the festival was an overall success.  I’m glad people had a good time, but I’m getting a little event weary and feeling the need to be more contemplative…and dry!

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