Posts Tagged ‘artistatexito’

Falls black styrofigure, July 2013

With the sun spotlighting this little patch of sand…my newest Styro-figure proudly stood upright.  He’s the first persona created in the reconfigured studio.  I found a rare piece of “black Styrofoam” on today’s walk.  It’s part of what passes for car bumpers these days.  This material has a rubberized compound mixed throughout the foam which makes it harder to cut or pierce.

Leaving home, July 2013

After making new friends it’s time to venture out into the world.  The leafy green complete with bird song is complimented by the creaky willows that sway with the occasional breeze.  There is another sound, however, that your feet are hearing and you walk in the direction of its source.

Black Styro-figure by the river, July 2013

The mighty Ohio River has been running muddy for more that a week now.  Although it’s hot and humid today, thus far, this summer has been wetter and cooler than average.  As a result of all the rain, the river has been higher than usual.  What I like about the Falls of the Ohio is that in such a relatively intimate space the park can take on all kinds of different looks depending on the weather and season.  Small waves break upon the heightened shoreline and there is a family nearby fishing and playing by the river.

Family fishing for catfish, Falls of the Ohio, July 2013

Seeing that they were having some luck catching fish, I gestured if it was all right to take their pictures.  The family didn’t speak English and I’m guessing that they are recent immigrants from Southeast Asia?  Regardless, both adults and children were having a ball in the river.  I wondered if they came from someplace like this since they seemed so comfortable and natural by the water? After receiving the okay signal I recorded these images of people interacting with the river.

little boy, Falls of the Ohio, July 2013

This little guy was cute and really determined that I should take his picture in what I’m assuming is a martial arts pose?  I obliged him several times and this was my personal favorite snapshot of the group.  Looking through my riverblog…I’m struck by how often children appear and interact with my artistic process.  First, my own two sons would accompany me and now it’s the kids in the park on any given day.

Man with Flathead Catfish, Falls of the Ohio, July 2013

Flathead catfish, Falls of the Ohio, July 2013

I watched this fish being landed and it’s a decent sized Flathead catfish, (Pylodictus olivaris).  This fish probably weighed in the ten to twelve pound range, but this catfish can get as large as a hundred pounds.  It is a fish of big rivers.  A very simple rig was used to catch this fish.  Four slipshot lead weights were clamped onto the line about eight inches away from the hook.  A single nightcrawler worm was used for bait which was cast about 25 yards from the riverbank.  The fishermen would wade in about knee-high to waist deep to increase casting length.  I was amazed that with the current and all the potential underwater obstructions that their lines didn’t get snagged more often than they did.

Catfish stringer, Falls of the Ohio, July 2013

This was the stringer of catfish they were working on.  In addition to the Flatheads…another big river fish the Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) was also being caught.

catfish stringer, Falls of the Ohio, July 2013

The Blue catfish is a slatey-gray color and has a forked tail.  The two fish on the lower right in the above image are blues.  The flatheads are more of a mottled olive color and have very different fins.  Both are omnivorous and will eat most anything that they can catch.

Man and catfish, Falls of the Ohio, July 2013

All the fish on the stringer will be used to feed this family.  It is still not recommended that people eat the larger fish (especially bottom dwelling species) from the Ohio River. The river is much cleaner than it used to be, however, toxins do build up in the fat tissues of the fish that live the longest and grow to be big.  Every once in a while, making a meal of some of the smaller fish should be okay.  Because I was needed elsewhere today…I let my day at the river draw to an end.  Good thing too…because if you stand too long in the same spot at the water’s edge…you chance sinking down too far!  See you soon.

Styro-figure in black, waist deep in wet sand, July 2013

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This was my Labor Day adventure which spanned two days of hanging out by the Ohio River.  The remnants of Hurricane Isaac came through and gave us some much-needed rain.  I was excited to return to my old studio spot and didn’t mind exploring and working through the drizzle.  My clothes got soaked and muddy, but as long as I was able to keep my camera dry…I felt okay and had fun.  It has been two months since I last laid eyes on my Styro-cache.  Most of these polystyrene chucks were collected in the spring.  I had heard that there were a few scheduled river clean-ups, but they obviously didn’t find my spot.  It wouldn’t have hurt my feelings in the least if all this white trash had disappeared.  The more public areas did look better, but I have a feeling that as long as people are around…there will be litter at the Falls of the Ohio.

Because I was dodging little rain showers, I quickly created a figure and moved him out into the river landscape.  A nice family who said they were familiar with some of my other Falls projects happened upon me.  Their daughters India and Esmay were interested in “Mr. Rednose”, so named because his nose is a burnt out light bulb from a string of Christmas lights.  I asked permission from the parents to take the girls’ picture before posting something.  Esmay seemed the most interested and kept sticking her finger into “Mr. Rednose’s” mouth.  It’s cool when people I meet out here get what I do and appreciate my small call for creativity.  I have a real concern for what kind of world our children will inherit.  My own sons are now 11 and 16 years old and I remember when they were much smaller and followed me to the river to make a few memories of our own.

“To exist or not to exist…that is a choice.”  Perhaps meeting little kids inspired me to play dress up with this figure.  But I also kept finding props I could do this with.  This blue blanket was just draped over a log and I wondered why someone would leave this here?  Over the years, I have come across small camps that homeless people would just leave their stuff behind as though they planned to return.  It was eerie when they didn’t.  By the river, I came across yet another potential prop.

A fisherman had left behind as trash this polystyrene minnow bucket and “Mr. Rednose”picked it up.  Since it was beginning to rain more regularly it seemed appropriate to try to use this bucket for a hat and here is what that looked like.

It was about this time that I decided to call it a day.  The rain was coming down more heavily and consistently.  I hid the figure in high, wet  grass where it was waiting for me the following morning.

My second day out here was more about discovering nature.  No sooner had I rescued my figure than I had one of my most thrilling bird sightings.  This time it was an actual bird and not something I created myself!  Walking through the wet grasses I unintentionally flushed a bird into flight that I recognized immediately.  It was a Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis).  It’s a small blackish bird with a short bill.  It has white speckles on its flanks and a very diagnostic rusty-colored nape.  Rails are the smallest member of a group of wading birds that include herons and egrets.  The literature says that they are very secretive and seldom encountered.  You are more likely to hear one at night along the eastern salt marshes, but there are a few that live in the Midwest.  There are over 260 bird species listed in the official Falls of the Ohio checklist, but the Black Rail is not one of them.  This is a second time I have spotted a bird not officially recorded in the park.  I tried to let the park and our local bird club know about my sighting and I hope somebody else was able to see it?   The flushed rail flew to a nearby willow tree and with camera in hand I tried to get a picture.  Unfortunately, I was not successful.  I will, however, look for it again in the same place the next time I come out here.  The Black Rail was not the only interesting creature out in the park today.  Newly minted butterflies were flitting about and I counted several species including the Viceroy which mimics the Monarch butterfly.

This Viceroy was taking advantage of the minerals present in a fairly large bird dropping!  Out of the fossil beds, Great Blue Herons were outnumbered by the slightly smaller and all-white Great Egrets.  Soon the egrets will be moving off to warmer climes, but the Great Blue Herons are year round residents.


Moving away from the river and back towards the willows, I stopped to admire several flowers including members of the Evening Primrose family.  “Mr. Rednose” enjoyed the slight fragrance emanating from this tall flower.


I finished this adventure where it began.  I moved my figure to the place he first took form and where he now stands guard over my Styro-larder.  He might still be there welcoming visitors…or not.  I look forward to returning the following weekend to experience all the surprises both great and small that this environment presents to me.


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It’s been nearly a month since I last visited the Falls of the Ohio.  My still tender twisted ankle and the brutal heat of this summer has me concentrating on other projects and exhibits.  Admittedly, I haven’t posted much and that periodic malaise that can affect bloggers hit me too.  My ankle is slowly getting better (intimations of mortality!) and with hope the oppressive heat is relenting?  I made the short trip from my home in Louisville to Clarksville, Indiana where the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center is redoing its exhibits.  I’m glad the mammoth skeleton will still be on display and I’m curious what else will be featured?

Each year the center’s foundation stages its “Rock the Rocks” fundraiser which features a silent auction.  I usually contribute one of my sculptures made from the river-born junk I find in the park.  This year my donation is entitled “Priscilla” and she’s a piece I made years a go and predates the old riverblog.  I hope she finds a nice home.  “Priscilla” with her dark eyes has a depth to her that seems to raise many questions.  Well, that’s how I read her!  The main question remains…why do we do the things we do that we know can harm the environment?  “Priscilla” knows she shouldn’t exist.

After my errand, I hung around to look at the Ohio River as it presents itself at the Falls of the Ohio.  Most of the fossil deposits are exposed and in my mind I’m walking out among them which in reality is always an interesting experience.  It’s easy for me to fantasize that I’m on another planet or a different place in time.  I know, however, that it will be a while yet before I wade across the shallow river and back out upon the water-scalloped limestone.  I don’t think my ankle is ready for that test yet.  It would be a long way to limp back.

I stopped and talked with several birders who had their scopes and binoculars fixed upon the distant fossil beds. Summer shorebirds were present including Great Egrets, Caspian Terns, Spotted Sandpipers, and an uncommon siting of an American White Pelican which had just flown away!  I missed it but was glad to hear that it had been seen regularly over the last three weeks.  I recall a few years a go, there was another young male bird that hung around for a while.  Once upon a time they were seen as far east as the Miami River in Ohio, but that was in the 19th century.  Now the pelicans are seen more frequently and might be extending their range again eastward along our great rivers.

I enjoy birds of all kinds and near the birdwatchers, a male American Goldfinch fed on sunflower seeds from one of the center’s flower beds.  I don’t know exactly what it is about the attraction to birds, but it lifts my spirits.  I go back to my car and collect the surprise within.  Although I haven’t physically been out here as much as a usually am…my thoughts don’t stray far from this environment.  I made a new figure in my basement and I’m eager to snap a few shots of it in the context of where the materials I used to construct it were found.

This is “Cubby” and he is eager to see the world.  We walked along the trail together and came across this spot where the morning-glory vines were growing in profusion.  Only in the shade did we find the blossoms still open.  The heat of broad daylight would shrivel them to nothing.  Along our walk we could hear the sound of cicadas and the smell of sun tan lotion was lingering in the air.  It’s the weekend and the park is full of visitors.

As we walk through the grass, the blades come alive with the many grasshoppers that are present.  “Cubby” and I check them out and we also notice a few nice Buckeye butterflies flitting about with their beautiful blue eye spots checking us out too.

It’s amazing what a month can change around here.  It seems so verdant and overgrown.  We find evidence that some of the recent and powerful thunderstorms have blown over a few old trees.  This seems to happen with increased frequency.  When it does rain, it seems to be accompanied by strong winds and torrential downpours.  There is so much moisture and energy in our weather systems as the fronts move along the Ohio Valley.

It’s been a year of contrasts.  Our spring was so wet and led to some flooding.  Several months later the driftwood evidence is all around.  The park staff have had their hands full re-establishing the walking trails.  Chain saws and small bulldozers are required for that job.  All this wood will just sit here until it decays or washes away with the next flood.  The Ohio River is a dynamic element that continually shapes this park.

I made “Cubby” for an exhibition that will be held at Bellarmine University in September.  It’s a two person show and my exhibit partner, Scott Scarboro, also uses found materials, but his works are of a more urban nature.  He likes using discarded mechanical toys and using sound in his work.  I will post more about that show as it happens.  As for “Cubby”, he derives his name from the unique head-gear he wears.  Last year, I came across the “skin” of a river-exploded teddy bear and saved it into the collecting bag.  This is how that find manifested itself.  To further reinforce the bear cub idea I added a small plastic bear head image that I think came from a pacifier.  It holds his breach cloth in place which comes from the lining of an old glove.  And in case you were wondering…he’s also anatomically correct underneath.  If you are bothering to cover the loins…there might as well be something there!!!  Well, I guess that’s it for now.  It feels good to blog again.

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The Ohio River is currently on the rise.  I think by now, the plein air studio I’ve been using all these past months is under water.  I’m sure the next time I walk this landscape it will have been rearranged.  With spring coming this will be a new place once again and with it a new cycle of debris and artifacts will have washed ashore.  I was looking through several months of images shot at the Falls of the Ohio and chose more pictures of toys that I have come across.  I’ll end this post with a bonus feature!

And now for the bonus!!  Usually after a flood it is common to find logs and sticks that have been snagged by trees as in the above image.  On occasion the retreating waters deposit other objects like strange fruits for me to find.  Here are a couple more found toys that illustrate this.

Here’s the last toy in three images.  Thanks, and see you after the flood.

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