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Archive for the ‘Louisville, Kentucky’ Category

City of Louisville, KY as seen across flooded Ohio River, March 2015

The Ohio River remained higher than expected and was bolstered by a few days of rain.  I visited the Falls of the Ohio last weekend during a moment when the water level had dropped just enough to reveal a muddy shoreline with its accompanying line of stranded debris.  The places in the park I like to work and visit were still underwater.

Louisville as seen from the muddy Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

I put on my “Falls shoes” which were already muddy and that I keep outside on the front porch of my house and headed for the river.  As usual, I brought a collecting bag and camera with me and ventured forth to see what there was to see.  In places, you could tell that the river with its water-born logs had acted as a battering ram and pretty much leveled the vegetation nearest to the water.

"river shivers", Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

The silt and clay are both very fine and sticky when wet.  I gingerly step on wood and other debris to keep from sinking ankle-deep in this quagmire.  I enjoy looking at the rippling wave patterns that the water creates.  I call this “river shivers” and imagine if the riverbank could display “goose-flesh” that it would look something like this.  And speaking of geese…

tracks made by geese, Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

domestic goose at the Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

…the flock of Canada geese I photographed the previous week, left their footprints everywhere in the mud.  Their friend, the ex-patriot domestic goose, was still hanging out with them.

High water trash at the Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

Of course, nearly every place you looked, you could see man-made trash and driftwood.  Much of this material has originated far from here.  When things finally dry out enough for a more thorough exploration, I’m expecting to find all kinds of examples of our material culture washed into the park.

flood born trash at the Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

Interspersed with the bottles are lots of other plastic items and various foam-based garbage including Styrofoam…my primary sculptural material.  This is just a detail of one small area.  Already I’m seeing hundreds of plastic drinking bottles.  I’ve been asked on more than one occasion if I’m ever afraid that I might poison myself or get an infection from something that I’ve found out here by the river.  My short answer is yes.  One needs to be concerned, however, I don’t press my luck with anything that looks at all questionable.  I guess I do place a lot of trust that the billions of gallons that constitutes the Ohio River does in effect “wash” the stuff that I use.  So far, knock on wood, I’ve never had an adverse reaction after working out here for more than a decade.  The Falls of the Ohio State Park is a public space and what I encounter is also what the public encounters.

trunk load of river junk, March 2015

Here’s the trunk of my car after this brief foray to the river.  This may be hard for some of you to believe, but I’m actually very selective now. These days, I only carry back to my home work space, the “cream of the crop”.  I prefer to make my artworks at the river, but will also take materials home to “hedge my bets” and for workshop purposes.  The larder I had created at my “UFO” (Unknown Floating Object) outdoor studio is now long gone and I wonder if that circular metal platform is still around…or has it finally floated away too?

Galerie Hertz exhibition announcement, March 2015

While temporally stymied by water and mud, I have the opportunity to interact with the local art world in a more usual way.  Galerie Hertz which represents my art in Louisville opened a collage and assemblage group show.  Billy and his partner Tom have been important players in our city’s cultural life.  They have been rightly credited for creating an arts district on Market Street through the activities of their renovated galleries.  Each new space the pair opened was an upgrade of a building that needed some help.  This gentrification has attracted other galleries and dealers, bars, restaurants, and several home décor stores along Market Street.  In typical Galerie Hertz fashion, Billy and Tom have moved on to a different location and their current gallery where I’m showing my works is now on South Preston Street.  How often is it the case that creative folks move into formerly neglected areas and bring them to back to life?

"Moon Star", found objects from the Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

Among the works I have in this group show is this piece entitled “Moon Star”.  I made this piece at the river, but felt is could use a bit more embellishment.  I added many found bicycle tire reflectors and some river-polished glass around the head.  When the light hits it just right, the reflectors just glow.

"Polar Beaver", found materials from the Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

"Polar Beaver", facing left, found materials from the Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

Through the miracle of “Styro-dermy”, I saved the Polar Beaver I encountered recently.  To get this piece to sit the way I want it to…I have embedded three, large, lead fishing weights into the tail to counterbalance the body.

"The Harbinger of Spring", found materials, Falls of the Ohio, March 2014

This diminutive figure is called “The Harbinger of Spring” and I created him last year at this time.  I also wrote an accompanying story that helped explain how winter transitions to spring.  Although I like to think that many of my Styrofoam-bodied sculptures can hold their own as freestanding objects…they are also relics and artifacts of a site specific performance that happens out at the river and is additionally documented through photographs and stories.  At the moment, the sun is shining, but it is also cold at the river.  Tomorrow is another day, another day for the river to recede and the mud to dry.  I think I will get up early and give it a go.  I will let you know what I discover at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Railroad bridge at the Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

 

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City of Louisville skyline as seen from flooded bank of Ohio River in Clarksville, IN, March 9, 2015

Following is a portfolio of images I made the first week of March during a bout of minor flooding that at the time of this writing has not yet subsided.  After a late season rain and record-breaking snow storm, the Ohio River predictably has swelled its banks.  During the past week, we received several more days of rain that kept the water level high.  This is seasonal and normal flooding that we usually experience almost every year.  I heard the other day that the river hasn’t been at this level since 2011.  I published some images of this series on my newly minted Facebook page and will try to avoid duplicating those images here.

Skyline of Louisville as seen from the flooded Falls of the Ohio, March 9, 2015

Many of these images are of the skyline of Louisville as seen from a soggy Falls of the Ohio State Park.  Currently, in Louisville, low-lying sections of our roadways are underwater and a major downtown exit has been closed.  River Road is truly in the river.  The city is expecting an influx of visitors to arrive by Thursday for the start of the NCAA basketball tournament.  Louisville is one of the host sites and our basketball arena is right on the river.  As long as there isn’t anymore significant precipitation along the Ohio River Valley, the river should drop fairly quickly.

Dark tower with Louisville in the background, March 9, 2015

Light levels were dropping fast near day’s end and I used my camera phone to record these images.  There was no wind and the only motion was created by a fast flowing river.  I like the way the inundated trees along with their reflections create this frieze that was fun to use in framing a composition.

Train crossing over the railroad bridge during flooding at the Falls of the Ohio, March 9, 2015

The Army Corps of Engineer Tainter Gates are under water.  Usually, they hold the muddy Ohio River at bay exposing the world-famous fossil beds for exploration.  This image captures a long train crossing over the old iron bridge.  My outdoor studio where I stash my materials has long since floated away.  I will need to start from scratch again, but I have done this many times before.  Once the river subsides, I will be able to find new art materials to work with.  Frankly, I like it when the park floods a bit.  The Ohio River is so dynamic and along with the changing of the seasons provides a novel landscape every time I visit.

Garbage in a flooded river, Falls of the Ohio, March 9, 2015

Now there is also a downside to all this activity.  All the pent-up junk along both banks of the river is free once more to continue its journey to the Gulf of Mexico.  In this image, there’s lots of plastic bottles for drinking and oil products plus the usual Styrofoam and driftwood all mixed together.  The brightly colored plastic contrasts with the natural tones of the river.

Danger sign at the flooded Falls of the Ohio, March 9, 2015

This sign is up all year round, but frankly it makes the most sense to me during moments like this.  Floating junk forms a line about where the dam’s wall would be.

Flock of geese at the Falls of the Ohio, March 9, 2015

Even though the river was high…there was also lots of signs of life.  Soon it will be time for the Spring migration of birds moving north which is one of my favorite times of the year in the park.  I took several images of this flock of geese.  Most are Canada Geese, but the one guarding the rear is a domestic escapee.  I have watched this bird with this particular flock of geese for several years now.  Usually, the Canada Geese are very territorial especially towards others of their own kind.  Perhaps that is the key to the domestic goose’s acceptance…he really isn’t one of them and so he’s tolerated.

Geese by the old railroad bridge, March 9, 2015

Except for some selective cropping of a few images…I have done nothing else to them.  In this image, I have made the geese more prominent by eliminating the water in the foreground that makes up most of the photograph.  The other nice bird sighting of the day was seeing a juvenile Bald Eagle doing a fly over.  Eagles are becoming more common sights along the Ohio River and several pairs have built nests fairly close to the city.

Flooded trees at the Falls of the Ohio State Park, March 9, 2015

You can get a better sense for this “gentle flood” by showing a few inundated trees.  Here larger pieces of driftwood have been blown or directed by currents to the Indiana side of the Ohio River.  You can also see plastic junk interspersed among the wood.

View of Louisville as seen from under the railroad bridge at the Falls of the Ohio, March 9, 2015

The City of Louisville’s downtown section as seen from under the railroad bridge at the Falls of the Ohio.  The pink rectangular building with the bluish-green highlights (second tallest building on the right) is the Humana Building.  It’s architect, Michael Graves, passed away a few days a go.  The Humana Building is considered one of Graves’ Post Modern masterpieces and one of the nicest buildings in our city.  I remember when Humana’s founder, Wendell Cherry kept some of his art collection on view in the building that the public could tour on occasion.  You might come across Roman statuary in one room and a tall Giacometti bronze in another.  The art holdings were amazing.  Cherry was mostly secretive about his purchases and once paid the world record for a painting at auction when he bought an early Blue period Picasso self-portrait entitled “Yo Picasso”.  I believe the disclosed purchase price was just under 7 million dollars which seems like a bargain now that the record has been pushed recently to over 300 million dollars for a Gauguin painting.  I could go on about that, but that is a topic for another time.

Man by the railroad bridge, flooded Falls of the Ohio, March 2015

Like this guy in the foreground, I’m waiting for the river to recede before seeing what changes have been made.  Many of my favorite willow trees are completely underwater.  I know they get buffeted and damaged by the currents which carry lots of debris in their wake.  Perhaps by this weekend it will be all right to venture out among the muddy driftwood piles?  I will bring an empty collecting bag because I’m sure to find “stuff” to use for my creations.  On March 22, I will be participating in a group assemblage and collage show at Galerie Hertz.  I will have six different sculptures on view.  I will give you a sneak peek in my next post.  For now, keep your feet dry…Spring is on the way!

Flooded trees below the Interpretive Center, Falls of the Ohio, March 9, 2015

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Winter view at the Falls of the Ohio State Park, Feb. 2015

And just when we thought we were winter-proof…the cold descended.  Literally, one day it was near 60 degrees and a few days later came the snow, ice, and record-breaking cold.  Although it has been a mostly mild winter in the Kentuckiana area…it has also seemed like a longer than necessary season.  Everyone I know is winter weary.  Cabin fever has me out venturing among the frozen willow trees at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  From winter’s past, I know that when conditions are just right, I can expect to see some interesting ice formations near the river.

The Artist at Exit 0 in winter time, Feb. 2015

The right conditions are also cold conditions and you need to dress appropriately.  I find I’m in good shape wearing my vintage pair of Wind-Dodger goggles to keep my eyes from getting all watery.  An old treasured scarf across my face and an all wool, German, military surplus, submariner sweater add to the many layers I have on.  I bring along my trusty walking stick which I use frequently to test the thickness of the ice over frigid water-filled puddles.  Outfitted in my best polar garb I feel confident as I venture forth over a hibernating landscape covered in snow and ice.

Ice formations on the dam's wall, Feb. 2015

In the eastern section of the park, ice has formed on the dam’s wall.  This wall is all that separates the full force of the Ohio River from impacting the lower levels of the park that I am familiar with.  The true height of the river is many feet above my head.  The more swiftly flowing water keeps from freezing.  Debris of all description and the trunks of washed away trees build up on the upriver side of the dam.  More than likely, all the pent-up driftwood will find release when the spring floods come and even the walls of this dam can’t keep the river from rearranging this area once more.  It is a dynamic environment ruled by the river.  If I were to contrast the scene before me with the way this spot will look like in six month’s time…you would think you were on a different planet altogether.  I try to appreciate the variety before me which also has a way of keeping out the cold.

geese tracks in the snow, Feb. 2015

I find there is a surprising amount of life out here.  Although I’m the only person around, I have already spotted several species of birds that don’t seem to mind these conditions.  Geese have left there meandering tracks in the snow.  In the air, I watched both a Peregrine falcon and a nice flock of Ring-billed gulls engage in aerobatics over the river.  I come across other tracks in the cold mud that has me momentarily frozen in place.  I sort of recognize them, but there is also something not quite right here that I can’t put my finger on?

beaver tracks in the mud

To my eye, they appear to be beaver tracks, but they are too small.  I run all the possible candidates through my mind’s mammal filter, but I’m drawing a blank.  I chalk it up to my inexperience.  Try as you might, you can’t learn everything from books and there’s no substitute for doing the fieldwork.  I left the tracks and headed towards the spot on the river where I’ve seen good ice formations before.  Along the way, I find many chewed up willow branches and cuttings near a stand of willow trees.  Something has been dining fairly regularly in this area and with luck I may find other evidence identifying my mystery animal.  As you may have already guessed…luck was with me!

The Polar Beaver, Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2015

If it hadn’t moved, I doubt that I would have seen it and I would have missed the first recorded occurrence of the Polar Beaver (Castor arcticus) at the Falls of the Ohio State Park!  In size, this remarkable rodent is about the size of the common house cat.  I stood transfixed as this all-white animal concentrated its intentions on the ice-covered willow trees near the river’s edge.

Polar Beaver, Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2015

I wondered if the Polar Beaver could appreciate the varieties of shapes and forms that frozen water can take?  In the background, the Ohio River seemingly “smoked” as the surrounding air is much colder than the water.  This vapor or steam gradually coats the structures nearest the river.  As the condensation freezes it creates the many shapes that I like to describe as ribbons, sausages, and candles in this beautiful wonderland.  During these special moments, one can appreciate water as it exists in three different states of matter…gaseous vapor, flowing liquid, and rock solid.

The Polar Beaver, Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2015

Historically speaking, the Polar Beaver is a fairly new animal to be described by science.  Although its beautiful snow-white pelt has been a valuable and prized trade item by the northern indigenous people…it was thought these rare white furs were taken from albino morphs of the common beaver.  Ironically, crypto-zoologists looking for the legendary Sasquatch, instead brought to light the existence of this very rare rodent.  DNA testing confirmed that the Polar Beaver is a truly unique species.  Some of the first observations about this animal documented that this beaver’s coat turns white as autumn transitions to winter.  This is a trait it shares with other polar animals like the Arctic hare and Stoat.

Polar Beaver with willow branch, Feb. 2015

During this time at the Falls,  I was able to observe the Polar Beaver feeding.  Deftly, the beaver chose just the right willow twig and with a quick bite, severs it from the parent tree.  Holding the stick with its front paws, the beaver than carefully chews away the surrounding bark revealing the ivory warmth of the wood.  “Tool marks” left behind by the beaver’s teeth are recorded in the wood.  Willow makes up a significant part of this animals diet, but it is now known that other tree species and plants are eaten “in season” as well.

Polar Beaver feeding in its ice shelter, Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2015

Polar Beaver feeding on willow branch, Feb. 2015

If the Polar Beaver noticed me at all…I couldn’t tell because it seemed so intent upon feeding.  I watched this animal carry a willow branch to a small “ice shelter” where it focused on the task on hand.  The muddy Ohio River gently lapped the shoreline.  When the beaver finished its meal, it continued to explore the immediate environs with its many ice formations.

Polar Beaver at the Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2015

I noticed the beaver sampling willow it had already chewed upon as it moved down along the river’s edge.  I stood transfixed by this nearly mythical animal.  I finally lost sight of the beaver when it went behind an ice formation and unseen by me…slipped back into the water and disappeared.  I searched around for a couple of hours hoping to have another glimpse of this Polar Beaver or any others that might have been around, but ultimately was unsuccessful.  I returned during the next two days, but this beaver apparently moved on for good.  I was lucky to have seen it, but can you blame me for being greedy and wanting more time with this magical animal?  Wouldn’t you wish for the same if you were me?  When my reverie lifted, I realized that I could no longer feel my toes and my digital camera was also feeling the cold and not operating properly.  It was time to go home and I will leave you with one final image from this trip.  Here is a view of a favorite old willow tree as it appears during the heart of winter.  Spring will soon be around the corner and I will see you again at the Falls of the Ohio.

Old willow tree in winter, Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2015

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Skyliner, Falls, late Feb. 2014

We are all getting antsy for spring to arrive…winter has been hanging on and on for dear life.  It’s been hard to access the river because the water level has been high.  Most of the places I visit at the Falls of the Ohio State Park are currently under muddy water.  We have had just a handful of nicer, warmer days, but that has accelerated the melting of the snow and ice throughout the more than 800 hundred mile long Ohio River Valley.  I don’t mind the cold so much, but it’s harder to do what I like to do on a swollen waterway.  Here’s how one of my spots under the railroad bridge looked during my last visit.

muddy, high water at the Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2014

Not a pretty picture seeing a river as brown as gravy.  Lots of logs and wood floating on top and when you look more closely…there is also plenty of plastic and polystyrene in the mix too.  Another view this time with me standing on the wall that separates one side of the river from the other.

high river at the Falls, Feb. 2014

All those white spots are pieces of Styrofoam.  With my usual haunts inaccessible I moved further east…just outside the park’s entrance.  There has been a lot of activity in this area that has caught my notice.

Skyliner on the riverbank, Feb. 2014

There has been a campaign on the Indiana side to make the river more accessible particularly in areas that afford a good view of Louisville’s skyline.  To do this the vegetation has been bulldozed away.  I came across an elderly person walking her dog and she said to me quite unsolicited..”Bout time they did something to clean up this mess!” as she pointed a thin finger in the general direction of the river.  In this case, one person’s mess is another creature’s habitat.  The true “mess” comes from all the plastic bottles and chunks of man-made junk that make it into the water.  No amount of removing trees and creating views will help with this and it seems what we prefer looking at is a very selective process.  I brought my collecting bag along.  I’m hoping to pick up materials to use in an upcoming art workshop at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, but I find a few other interesting items as well and photograph them upon discovery.

Taco Bell cat toy, Feb. 2014

I came across this smiling yellow cat toy that I think came from a fast food establishment.

plastic containers for paint, Feb. 2014

Finding these paint containers made me realize how hungry I’ve become for color.  I’m looking forward to the world turning green again with color notes supplied by wild flowers.

bright orange plastic paratrooper, Feb. 2014

This plastic man with his bright, radioactive orange color was hard to miss.  He was a skydiver or paratrooper in a former life and probably fell to earth using a plastic parachute.

Skyliner with the City of Louisville behind him, Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2014

There were other signs from life that the season’s are about to change over.  I’m ever alert to what the birds are doing.  I spotted my first Red-winged Blackbirds of the year and they are among the first migratory species to arrive.  Male Northern Cardinals are singing their courtship songs and scouting out the best spots to build a nest.  On the river, however, I spied what I consider a bird sign of winter.  A nice sized flock of Lesser Scaup ducks were mostly sleeping and relaxing on the surface of the water.  In this area, it seems we see more duck varieties in late fall and early winter. Here’s a peek at the scaups.

White-winged Scoters, Falls of the Ohio, Late Feb. 2014

Before I move away from the ducks…I found one other to add to my growing collection.  This is a Mallard decoy made from plastic.  Not too long a go, I found another plastic decoy representing the Pintail Duck.

found plastic Mallard duck decoy, Falls, Feb. 2014

One other bird note…I heard them before I could see them, but I knew what they were instantly.  The familiar calls of migrating Sandhill Cranes winging their way back north.  Like geese, they fly in V-shaped formations to avoid the air turbulence created by other cranes flapping their wings.  These birds are high flyers and this was the best I could do in taking their picture with the camera I have.

high flying Sandhill Cranes, Feb. 2014

As February becomes March…the forecast for the Kentuckiana area is calling for freezing rain and snow.  It appears that Old Man Winter will be hanging out for another week.  Spring will eventually get here and already you can tell that it stays light outside longer with each passing day.   I am, however, really eager to see how the river has rearranged this familiar landscape.

Skyliner on the Ohio River's edge, Feb. 2014

Once the Ohio River recedes there will be a new landscape to explore and who knows what I will find?  I like that each year is different from the last.  Well this post is drawing to a close.  Thanks for visiting and see you soon…from the skyline of Louisville and the Falls of the Ohio.

Looking toward the skyline of Louisville, Late Feb. 2014

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Fishermen, Falls of the Ohio, June 1, 2013

It’s the beginning of June at the Falls of the Ohio.  I arrived at the river to find a dozen or so fishermen that were up on this cool, grey morning before me.  There are both people and boats in and on the water.  Many fishermen are knee to thigh high in the river balancing themselves on the shallow, but rocky bottom.

Fishermen at the Falls, June 2013

The river attracts all kinds of fishermen.  I see people who have lots of fancy, expensive tackle and for the most part they are using light gear for smaller, sporty, quarry.  And then there are the guys that seem more local and blue-collar.  No fancy gear here that the anglers might prefer.  Rather this is a big pole, five gallon bucket, come as you are affair.  Word has probably been passed down the line that the “shad” are running and it’s a good time to catch a mess of fish.

Skipjack herring at the Falls of the Ohio, June 2013

This is the fish of the day…the Skipjack Herring, (Alosa chrysochloris).  This fish was first described by the naturalist Rafinesque in the early part of the 19th century.  It’s an abundant and beautiful fish found in all of Kentucky’s major rivers and up into the Mississippi River too.  The Skipjack is anadromous which means it migrates up rivers from the sea to breed.  During the right time of year large schools of Skipjacks are congregating under the dams and waiting for the chance to move forward.  The Skipjack gets its name from jumping out of the water like a skimming stone in pursuit of the smaller fishes it eats.  At the Falls, the fishermen are catching Skipjacks to use as bait.  The fish is cut into quarters and set upon large treble hooks in the hopes of catching big catfish.  One fisherman told me he witnessed a 30 pound catfish being caught with this method the previous night.  I recently read that these waters were also once home to the Ohio Shad (Alosa ohiensis) which were first described from specimens caught in the Ohio River at Louisville in the late 19th century.  This fish is so rare now that it is on occasion listed as being extinct.  The Ohio Shad was probably not common to begin with.

dead fish, June 2013

Along the water’s edge the smell of dead fish demarcates the air where water and land meet.  The riverbank is littered with the unlucky who through lost scales and exposed bone are returning to the world from which they came.  There was one unfamiliar fish that I came across and I did a series of photos of it.  Here are several views I made of this new fish.

Yellow-fin Carp with skipjack, June 2013

Fish studies, June 2013

There isn’t anything in the literature about this fish and so I’m going to designate it the Yellow-fin Carp for obvious reasons.  In life, it probably was in the 3 to 5 pound range and I’m surprised it didn’t get cut up for bait as well? It has the tell-tale large eyes that suggest it is a deeper water fish.  It was probably caught by mistake, released, died, and washed up here with the other unfortunates.  Here’s a couple of images made along the riverbank.

Yellow-fin Carp in hand, June 2013

Yellow-fin Carp in hand 2, June 2013

Since this is something you don’t run across out here very often, I thought I would post a few more images that provide a more formal portrait.

Yellow-fin Carp, facing right, June 2013

Yellow-fin Carp, facing left, June 2013

And now for a head-on view of this interesting fish.

head-on view of Yellow-fin Carp, June 2013

People were not the only animals out here after the Skipjacks.  Several bird species including Ospreys, Double-crested Cormorants, Black-crowned Night Herons, and Great Blue Herons were taking their share.  Here is a heron couple that are set up by the tainter gates in the eastern section of the park.   Between catching fish they mirrored each other in a few courtship moves.

Great Blue Herons by the tainter gates at the Falls of the Ohio, June 2013

 

The fossil limestones at the Falls of the Ohio are famous for the diversity of Devonian Age life forms that are preserved within the rocks.  Ironically, the Devonian Age is also known as the age of fishes because they first appear in the fossil record over 350 million years a go.  At the Falls, however, fish are poorly represented in this rock record.  I imagined that if they had preserved as well as other creatures…their remains might look something like this.

dead fish at the Falls, June 2013

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washed up plastic tricycle, Falls of the Ohio, May 2013

I was at the Falls of the Ohio last week when I spotted this plastic toy tricycle just sitting by itself near the river’s edge.  Although I didn’t see anyone around, I just assumed its owner must be nearby.  I took this picture and walked away.  After a time spent looking for driftwood and anything else, I was heading back to my studio under the trees when I was approached by this character I’ve come to know as the ” Off Road Triker”.  He was quickly peddling that tricycle I had seen earlier.

Off Road Triker, May 2013

With his trademark orange goggles, the Triker likes to explore the world from the seat of his three-wheeler.  I recognized him as the  subject of a few human interest stories in the newspaper, but this was a first spotting him on the shores of the Ohio River.  I have heard that he used to own a car, but now he just peddles everywhere he wants to go.  As a side benefit, he’s in the best shape of his life.  His legs alone must be as hard as wood.  The Triker’s ride came to a smooth stop in the sand in front of where I was standing.

the head of the Triker, goggles off, May 2013

Removing his goggles from his eyes the Triker greeted me pleasantly on a picture perfect day.  We introduced ourselves and talked about our observations and connections to this landscape.  The Triker remarked that he had seen a lot of rubbish along the water’s edge and I nodded in agreement.  He wondered why nobody did anything about this, but I had to tell him that the Falls does see several clean-up attempts a year, but with each new flood or high water the new “largess” in the river just washes up again.  It’s like rolling that proverbial rock up the hill only to have it roll back again and again.

Off Road Triker in motion, May 2013

The Triker said that there was a place where several old automotive tires were laying half buried in the sand and that I should check it out.  He put his goggles back on and I walked beside him as he peddled to the spot.  I didn’t tell him this, but I was already familiar with these tires and have photographed this feature many times.  I found the Triker to be amusing and so I just played along to get a sense of who he is and what he might do next.  The reason all these tires are in this particular location is that once upon a time a river clean-up had occurred and these loose tires were gathered here for future disposal.  Ironically, the future never came which left these tires mired in the present.  Now these tires are so full of mud, sand, and water that it would take a herculean effort to dig some of them out of the riverbank.

The Triker begins his run, May 2013

The Triker thought these tires would make an appropriate obstacle course to maneuver through and he asked me to photograph him while he made his run.    Everything started off well enough, but that was not to last.

The Triker runs the obstacle course, May 2013

The Triker swings wide, May 2013

The Trike over corrects, May 2013

The Triker clips the tire, May 2013

It’s at this point that the Triker hits a snag or rather a tire.  The slalom at the course’s start went fine, but midway through the Triker swung wide and he had to over correct to get around the next obstacle.  Here are some different close up views of the action.

View of Triker hitting the tire, May 2013

The Triker up on two wheels, May 2013

The Triker nearly falls off, May 2013

As you can see…hitting the tire caused the tricycle to go up on two wheels.  The speed and forward momentum nearly caused the Triker to completely lose his balance!

The Triker recovers his balance, May 2013

Fortunately as an experienced rider…the Triker held it together and was able to regain his composure and balance to complete this impromptu course.  He pulled off to the side near some willow trees and exhaled deeply.

The Triker recovers his breath, May 2013

“That was a close one my friend.  I thought for a micro second I was going to eat sand and rubber in a hard way!”  I praised him for his skill on the tricycle and told him I would post the images on the internet which seemed to please the Triker.  Recovering his breath, the Triker said he enjoyed his visit to the Falls of the Ohio, but it was now time to return to the city.  With his goggles back on, my last view of the Triker was of his back as he peddled his wobbly ride with a newly bent axle towards the skyline of the nearby city.

The Off Road Triker departs, May 2013

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at the Louisville Zoo, April 20, 2013

One of the benefits of being a long-time member of a local art community is that on occasion you get asked to help judge art contests.  I began my morning on Earth Day at an awards ceremony held at the Louisville Zoo.  Last week I was one of six judges looking at children’s artwork (from preschool to high school) made from recycled elements.  Originality, material diversity, and creativity were the criteria.  The art exhibit is entitled “Trashformation” and this is the inaugural event hosted by the zoo.  Although most of the entries were from Louisville, art projects also came in from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  The winners from each of the various school group categories were recognized on an absolutely beautiful Spring morning.

Mayor Greg Fischer at the Louisville Zoo, April 20, 2013

Graciously presenting the prizes to the students was Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer.  The kids and their families were excited to have the Mayor on hand and he was very cordial and approachable.  Mayor Fischer reinforced the idea of how critical it is to preserve and protect the environment.  The Mayor highlighted a few of the green initiatives his administration has championed including appointing a Metro Director of Sustainability, increasing curbside recycling, and surveying the health of Metro Louisville’s tree canopy.  Making the status of the urban environment a priority is vital to the city’s quality of life and is good for business as well.

Trashformation winners in the group category, April 20, 2013

Kids need little persuasion on the importance of reducing, recycling, and reusing.  They seem to get it and now it’s up to the rest of us to get on board!  Here is the winning team from the group category.  Their winning entry featured a recycled globe, plastic bottles, aluminum foil, plastic, and cardboard.

Winning entries in the Trashformation contest, April 20, 2013

On the table are a few more of the winning entries across various categories.  The homemade orange recycling bin made of cardboard and aluminum cans is a witty submission from a middle school duo.  Other notable projects included a shoe box diorama of the zoo and a bird with nest and eggs made from a recycled art book.

Recycled robot winner at the Trashformation contest, April 20, 2013

This creative “Recycle Man”  was a popular choice among all the entries.  The girl standing next to the Mayor is the artist who made it.  A large crowd was on hand thanks to a “Two Dollar Day” promotion sponsored by Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities.

Young lady accepts her prize from the Mayor, April 20, 2013

This young lady accepted her award for her artwork and couldn’t wait to share it with her family.  I’m sure there were several fond memories created on this morning.  After the awards ceremony I decided to check out some of the animals at the zoo.  The Louisville Zoo is Metro Louisville’s most popular attraction.  In addition to being a fun destination, the zoo is also well-known for its many conservation successes.  I always enjoy watching the Lowland Gorillas and they were having breakfast outdoors on this fine morning in the Derby City.

Lowland Gorillas at the Louisville Zoo, April 20, 2013

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pollinating tree, April 2013

It’s Thunder Over Louisville weekend which means the largest fireworks extravaganza in North America will happen tonight.  This is the kickoff event for the Kentucky Derby Festival which culminates in the horse race itself on the first Saturday in May.  The festival is a two-week event and while fun for residents and visitors…can also be an obstacle course if you are trying to get around town.  I like using the bridge on 2nd Street to get to the Falls of the Ohio State Park, but it is shut down and being used for the fireworks display.  At its height, Thunder Over Louisville (which also includes an air show) has drawn 800,000 people to the banks of the Ohio River on a single day.  I’m hoping to access the river and the park tomorrow.  For the moment, I have images to post from my last visit.  Looking through the pictures, it occurred to me that I had captured moments in the lives of individual trees that I would like to share.  The area continues to green up and many trees are producing their pollen.  For allergy sufferers, this is an especially difficult time.  If I was affected by seasonal allergies…I doubt I could do this project.  There is something about being in the bottom of the Ohio Valley that seems to bring out the worst for those allergic to various molds and pollen.

driftwood at the creek, April 2013

driftwood at the creek, April 2013

driftwood lining the banks of the creek, April 2013

I started this adventure on the Woodland Loop Trial near the Interpretive Center.  The path eventually leads to a small creek that at the moment has a tremendous amount of driftwood lining the contours of its banks.  All this wood was deposited here by the Ohio River swollen from winter rain and snow melt all along the length and breath of the river valley.  More high water could eventually carry all this wood back out into the river for parts unknown.  Still, this represents a lot of trees.  I have this idea in my head that as a result of climate change, we have all this extra water and energy in our weather systems?  Where does the water from retreating glaciers and Arctic melting go?  I’m guessing that some of it is evaporated out of the oceans and into a warming atmosphere where it influences the global weather patterns?  This excess water eventually precipitates out causing more severe weather events including flooding.  This increases riverbank erosion and tree loss.  Is there a limit on how much water the atmosphere can absorb?    Of course development along the rivers takes its share of trees too.  The cumulative effect of many actions continues to shape the environment.

tree too close to the river, April 2013

tree roots and river mud, April 2013

These exposed tree roots are something that I’m noticing more of at the Falls of the Ohio.  I’m assuming that frequent high water causes this?  This isn’t necessarily fatal and these trees can survive as long as the riverbank stays in place.  In addition to more water…an increase in storm related wind velocity has also been noticeable over the years.  We have had a lot of trees simply blow over and be lost in this manner.  Continuing to walk westward in the park, I can see that my favorite cottonwood tree continues to be developed as a party hang-out.

cottonwood tree party hangout, Falls of the Ohio, April 2013

fire pit outside the tree fort, April 2013

distant view of downtown Louisville from inside tree fort, April 2013

I posted on this wonderful cottonwood tree not too long a go and remarked on how it was once again becoming a focal point for parties.  The fire pits are larger and there are more beer bottles and cans around this tree than before.  I’ll bet this place is especially magical illuminated by camp fires.  Plus, more found wood has been used to hide a large silvery sheet of corrugated plastic to impart a more naturalistic appearance.  From inside and under the tree, you can see in the distance part of the downtown skyline of Louisville which will be filled with fireworks tonight.  Over the years, this tree has been discovered by different generations of folks and continues to hang in there.  I hope this will always be the case.  The next big flood will eventually wash all the additions away as it has done before.

tree with snagged wooden pallet, April 2013

Here’s an image that demonstrates how high the river can rise.  This snagged pallet has been hanging out on this tree branch for a couple of years now.  Trees can demonstrate some resilience in the face of adversity.  I know of a couple of trees at the Falls that have made use of improvised “planters”.

Willow growing within a tire, April 2013

Cast off tires are a ubiquitous element of river-born trash.  Somehow this willow tree has found a sheltering toehold in this wheel.  I’m curious to learn whether this tree can continue to grow and survive in what is ultimately a restrictive space?  On this walk, I also came across this unusual juxtaposition and thought it might fit in this post too.

willow roots, plastic laundry basket, and clothing item, April 2013

This may be as near as I come to having a tree suggest that it could do laundry too!  The surface root of an old willow tree has caught this old jacket.  The last high water floated this plastic laundry basket into this area and it settled next to the root.  This is not your average still life.  The gravel in the photo was deposited here by the last of the retreating ice age glaciers.

Sauger Man, April 2013

 

To conclude this post…as I was walking along the loop side of the trail, I spotted  a piece of Styrofoam in a ditch.  Retrieving it I discovered one of my previous sculptures from several months a go.  I originally included him in a story that featured sauger fishermen.  Except for a missing nose, the sculpture was complete.  I was surprised that it survived intact going on several months now.  Looking through my collecting bag…I replaced the lost nose with another piece of found plastic and set him up to greet visitors along the trail.  Here’s a final picture showing him next to a tree that the wind blew down last year.  Thanks for hanging out with me for the past thousand words.  Have a great weekend!

Sauger Man, under a tree trunk, Falls of the Ohio, April 2013

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image of Earth from space, 2013

Unknown hackers have recently posted images on the worldwide web reputedly obtained from government sources that state extraterrestrial aliens are among us.  The pictures go a long way in answering the question: “Are we truly alone in the universe?”.  The answer would be a resounding “no”! The information was lifted from top-secret computers from around the world, but seem to be centered on information purloined in the United States and New Zealand.  The group responsible for this posting call themselves members of “In Vino Veritas” and state their purpose is to let the truth be known.  In their communique “In Vino Veritas”  believes we are now  “evolved enough to handle the truth”.  Regardless, the cat is out of the bag…whatever that means?  Following are excerpts from their sensational posting which has gone bacterial on the internet.

Styrosian and crayfish, March 2013

Much of this stolen information centers around a lone alien that is believed to have crashed landed at the Falls of the Ohio State Park in southern Indiana.  After several years of trying, U.S. government scientists were able to break the transmission code used to transmit images off world and were then traced to their source in this small park.  The images show a “classical” looking humanoid-alien with large dark eyes and no nose exploring the environs of the park.  The image above shows the alien contemplating a dead crayfish, but it is unknown at this time whether “it” is responsible for the death of this crustacean.

Styrosian on tree stump, March 2013

Many of the “Falls of the Ohio Alien” show this visitor exploring nature.  There are many more images that seem to suggest that the extraterrestrial is engaged by this context in an almost reverential way.  Intentions, however, are difficult to gauge and there are some at the highest level who believe this is a scout for an impending invasion. Thus far, scientists have not been able to physically locate said alien.  Another image is believed to be of the wrecked space ship.

upturned hot tub, March 2013

This picture which cleverly resembles an upturned hot tub, could be either a space craft or some sort of time machine?  Remarkably, the New Zealand alien is also believed to have come to Earth in a bath-tub like ship.  These images from the Falls Alien are thought to have been taken with a “camera” mounted on a small drone based on their bird’s-eye point of view.  Thus far, this actual “hot tub” craft has eluded detection.  There is, however, other enigmatic circumstantial evidence that has been gathered that seems to imply an alien(s) “hand” at work.  Consider these strange formations found in the park.

map of the solar system, March 2013

This is a remarkable find and is obviously a map of our solar system.  The center golf ball is the sun surrounded by corresponding blackened buck-eye planets.

rope formation, March 2013

Could this found rope be a landing or navigational marker for a space craft or a piece of art?  The idea that aliens have an appreciation for art is further evidence of their more evolved status.

coal symbol, March 2013

Here is one of many “Star Symbols” made from locally procured coal.  Their exact function is also unknown but recent speculation also suggests a fusion of art and science at work here.  Notice the energy field radiating away from the star.

alien effigy artifact, March, 2013

This is one of the most impressive artifacts of all and recently excavated at a site near the Falls of the Ohio.  It is an alien effigy made from a composite materials including rubber and plastic.  The fact this alien has a nose also suggests the potential for much variation among different races or species of aliens to have secretly visited our planet.  Here are a few more images of aliens that were part of the recently posted hacker trove.  Let’s start with the image obtained from New Zealand which is identified as being ” a Dede”.

alien-competition, Dede alien, March 2013

This “Dede” alien is unusual in sporting antennae.  Notice how the pose seems to suggest appreciation for light and life.  Very little is known of alien activities around the world and this image is of extreme importance for this reason.  It is believed that a similar form of transmission was used by the “Dede” alien to “beam” this image back to the visitor’s home world or waiting space craft.  Scientists speculate the dark spectacles are needed because the “Dede” alien comes from a world whose sun isn’t as intense as our own.

Alien Ballet, 10/09

This image described as being an “alien ballet” also comes from the Falls of the Ohio.  Government sources date this image to 2009 which predates the current Falls alien.  The exuberant dance also suggest a love of fun and art.  After what must have been a long journey through dangerous outer space…it must have felt great to be safe and in a new environment.  The elaborate head-gear may suggest sexual dimorphism in this particular species of alien?  Can we safely assume that the male is on the right and female on the left…or does this picture represent two different aliens who are comfortable with one another?

Styrosian with purple flowers, March 2013

So ends a quick overview of the “leaked” evidence of alien visitors to our planet.  It will be fascinating to see if this information will be taken to heart or denied outright in typical governmental fashion?  Are we indeed grown-up enough to handle the idea that we are no longer alone in a wide open universe?  Thus far, the evidence suggests that our visitors from other worlds have had nothing but peaceful intentions and actually have been caught in acts that suggest they appreciate the variety of life around them.  If we could only learn from them…again, time will tell.

Hello from the Falls of the Ohio, March 2013

This post (which was fun to do) is in honor of Dede Puppets one year anniversary.  Congratulations from the Falls of the Ohio!  The Dede Puppets link can be found on my blogroll in the right hand column.

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figure in light by willow roots, Feb. 2013

What a beautiful day and I stayed out for many hours by the river.  It’s been a bit of roller coaster with the weather the past few weeks.  We have fluctuated between below freezing temperatures you can feel in your bones and highs in the 50 to 60 degree range.  Folks around here have been blaming our worse than usual cold and flu season with the variability of the weather.  I don’t know if this is true, but for me…going outside to breathe fresh air is restorative to my physical and spiritual health.  Since I last set foot here the river has again risen and receded.  The large raft of driftwood under the railroad bridge has been dispersed by the high water and actually made it a little less of an obstacle course to maneuver around.  The air over the river is also once again alive with Ring-billed Gulls searching for food.  I’m also hearing both the Northern Cardinal and Song Sparrow practicing their songs in anticipation of Spring.  Their songs make me want to sing one of my own.

sunken tires, Feb. 2013

More evidence of a high river comes in the form of man-made junk that has floated into the park.  I have found tires in all their forms to be good indicators of the entropy in this system.  What once took great amounts of energy and heat to form and use is literally sinking into the sand.  The wheel is one of mankind’s great inventions and here it is just another piece of garbage we have discarded.  I’m out here today not because I’m looking for things to get me down, but rather the opposite!  I’m looking for signs and symbols of the renewal to come.

Styro-figure with foot print, Feb. 2013

Today, I’m looking for a member of the genus Lepus which includes hares and rabbits.  For some reason…intuition I think, has brought me here on this particular quest.  I have heard that members of the rabbit family start behaving oddly during Spring in anticipation of the breeding season.  The expression “mad as a March hare” is an old English expression used to describe this moment.  Of course, rabbits and hares have older associations as well.  The ancient Greeks equated rabbits with the goddess Aphrodite and rabbits have long been symbols of fertility. Logic tells me that if I can locate a hare that Spring will be here in no time at all. I guess I’m putting more trust in the hare than I am the groundhog! The month of February is nearly over and I’m hoping to find signs that hares are in the area.  So far, I’m not having much luck…just the tracks of people who came before me.  I’m not giving up yet though and the day is young.

Styro-figure and frayed cable, Feb. 2013

I’m operating with my “hare brain” switched in the “on” position as I walk around my familiar haunts.  I look in areas that seem likely to me to hide rabbits and hares like this willow tree with an old barge cable wrapped around it.  I’m not sure why this tree is “talking” to me, but I’m going with my intuition.  There are no hares here, and maybe this spot is too close to the river anyway?

Styro-figure by wooden cable spool, Feb. 2013

I walk by a wooden spool for holding large cables.  This is also new and wasn’t here the last time I passed by.  I see there is an opening large enough for a small mammal to hide in and so I go to investigate.  Carefully I approach the spool, but there is nothing here either.  I’m beginning to feel that there aren’t many other places I can look, when I remember there is a section of the park I almost never visit and so letting intuition be my guide…I go there.

East of the railroad bridge, Louisville across the Ohio River, Feb. 2013

The area I trek to is just east of the railroad bridge and dam that catches most of the driftwood that has been pushed from upriver.  This barrier is no obstacle at all when the river is at flood stage.  It is all this driftwood and pent-up junk that flows into the park when the Ohio River gets high.  It’s a tricky, shifty area and frequently muddy too.  All these conditions were present on this day.  It’s not an area the public is encouraged to visit and most people have enough sense to stay away.

colorful plastic garbage, Feb. 2013

As you can see…this area also gets lots of trash too.  This is what I eventually can look forward to receiving, perhaps in the next flood?  This plastic separates so completely with the rest of the environment that I’m surprised it doesn’t compel people to pick it up like it does at the grocery and department stores?

Alien head and plastic trash, Feb. 2013

Naturally, I find weird things here.  It’s not everyday that you come across an alien’s head, but here it is next to other junk.  I find three dolls in various poses tangled in mud and driftwood and other toy bits that floated down with the currents.  I find a little bit of this and that, but no March hares or rabbits.

train on bridge, Falls, Feb.2013_1_1

The soles of my shoes are caked with mud and so I find a suitable stick to scrape away the sticky earth.  I sit on a broad log to do this and take a rest at the same time.  While I work away at my shoes, a train crosses the bridge and I watch it as it crosses.  My mind wanders freely and I remember the unusual art of Joseph Beuys which became a favorite of mine during graduate school.  His work is frequently perplexing and takes getting used to.  I like his art, but found I was more attracted by his ideas and writings.  The value he placed on art as a potential agent to further our own evolution away from the strictly materialistic way we treat ourselves and the planet we depend on inspired me.  His ideas about an expanded notion of art seemed to give art more of a sense of purpose which I also found to be smart and optimistic.

Railroad bridge with bunny, Feb. 2013

Bueys often referenced animals in his art and believed that they were more aware and in tune with the world than we are.  The hare in particular was an important symbol to Bueys because it mediates between the earthly and spiritual realms.  Hares are burrowing animals and line their nests with their wool.  The insulating properties of felt became another material that Bueys incorporated in his art.  While I was sitting still and reflecting on the work of a favorite artist…the hare appeared!

The March Hare in late February 2013

It must have just emerged from its burrow under the logs and debris and was still covered with mud.  It looked in my direction with ears pricked up and our gaze locked upon one another.  Holding still for just a split second, I was able to capture this image before it disappeared back into the earth.  I exhaled in the knowledge that Spring was one day closer to arriving.  I savored the moment, gathered my things, took one last look across the river and headed for the skyline of Louisville over the Second Street Bridge.

The City of Louisville across the Ohio River. Feb. 2013

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