Posts Tagged ‘bowling ball’

submerged willows at the Falls of the Ohio, Jan. 2013

It’s a new year at the Falls of the Ohio and this is my first foray of 2013.  As expected, I have the park to myself.  It’s cold, but not unbearable.  I can tell that the river has risen and fallen since I last set foot here.  The riverbank is rearranged with freshly deposited driftwood and junk.  The only wildlife to be encountered are birds.  I see the geese and ducks I expect to see, but the stars of the day are the hundreds of Ring-billed gulls that are flying over the river.  I begin my visit by walking the riverbank looking for potential art materials and anything else of interest.  I do find lots of new Styrofoam, but the pieces are heavy and frozen with water and too much to carry.  If the river doesn’t rise again soon, I may get the chance to move the bigger polystyrene chunks to my studio under the willows.  Walking the shoreline, here are a few of the other “gifts” I encountered courtesy of the Ohio River.

partially buried plastic Santa Claus, Jan. 2013

Half buried in coal dust and gravel is this plastic, scary Santa Claus.  I know we just celebrated Christmas, but I couldn’t resist posting this image.  He looks old to me and I pull him out of the mud and drop him into my collecting bag.  I may try to research him and see if I can find any info about him.  On this day, I also found another doll head.

plastic doll head, Jan. 2013

I’m always finding dolls and doll parts.  The interesting thing about this particular find is the location.  I have on other occasions also found old doll parts in the exact same place.  I’m beginning to believe that prior to this area becoming a park it may have served as a landfill?  In other areas of the park it is clear that this area was used as a dump from the amount of back fill I come across.  Nearby, something blue in the sand catches my eye and I take a look.

bowling ball fragment, Jan. 2013

interior view of split bowling ball, 2013

In case you were wondering, bowling balls do float.  I turned the beautiful blue-marbled surface over and discover that this ball has split in half.  The interior is made of a dense, hard foam and this is the reason these balls are buoyant.  The outer covering is a very hard plastic and I’m wondering how great a force is needed to break one of these balls open?  I imagine it is considerable and is another reminder of the power of the river.  Here’s one last find before moving on.

jar of peanut butter washing ashore, Jan. 2013

As I walked the riverbank, this jar of peanut butter was deposited by my feet!  I wonder where this came from?  Near the river’s edge I’m also picking up freshly peeled willow sticks.  This is evidence that beavers are in the area.  The sticks all bear their teeth marks as they nibble the bark for food.  Beavers are very secretive and I have only seen them twice in the past ten years.  I like willow wood for its ivory color and use them quite a bit in my river sculptures.  I wonder if beavers would like peanut butter?

outdoor studio, Jan. 2013

After scouting the river I head up the bank to the area under the willow trees that I have been using as an outdoor studio for the past year.  This ground is slightly higher, but is no match for a flooding river.  I have made many temporary studios over the years where I cache the Styrofoam and sticks I use for my figurative sculptures.  It’s been perhaps two months since I last visited this spot, but to my eye, not much has changed.  I set my collecting bag and walking stick down and select a couple of pieces of Styrofoam for my first figure of the new year.

The beginnings of a figure, Jan. 2013

Styro-figure in process, Jan. 2013

Before too long, a new figure takes form.  Today, I’m breaking in a new knife because I lost my trusty Swiss Army knife out here.  That’s two knives I’ve lost since beginning this project and think of my losses as tribute necessary to appease the river gods.  My new figure also sports one other find from this day…it’s a button that says “Kentucky is My Land”.

My latest Styro-figure greets his kin, Jan. 2013

After saying so long to his kin, my latest and unnamed Styro-figure sets out to explore his world.  The day started out sunny, but now has turned gray and cloudy.  I probably won’t stay out here much longer since the wind has picked up a bit too.

Styro-figure by large downed tree at the Falls of the Ohio, Jan. 2013

Here is further evidence that the river has risen and fallen recently.  A freshly deposited tree has been stranded on the bank and provides an opportunity for investigation.  In the distance and past the railroad bridge, one can spy part of Louisville’s skyline.  Curious about the tree, my newest figure climbs on top to survey the world from this vantage point.

Styro-figure on top of stranded tree, Jan. 2013

Styro-figure on tree, Jan. 2013

Every day is a new wonder especially at the Falls of the Ohio.  2013 is a new year, but it also marks my tenth as the artist at exit 0.  When I started my Falls project I wondered if I would be able to sustain anybody’s interest much less my own?  It was fun learning from the WordPress yearly summary that my blog has been visited by people living in 103 different countries during 2012!  I suppose more people now know about this special environment as a result of my activities here which is cool.  The Falls are a unique window into the history of life from its past to the present.  It’s a place where nature and man’s nature intersect which tells us something about who we are in this  moment.  I hope my blog continues to be a venue where people can get a sense that creativity can be an active force in shaping the world for the better.  As for my latest creation…he decided to hang around to greet any new visitors by the fossil rocks.  Perhaps by now, he has gone home with one of them?  See you later from the Falls of the Ohio.

Figure by fossil rocks, Falls of the Ohio, Jan. 2013

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After the foothills of central Texas, it’s nice to be in the Derby City again.  All along the 2000 mile road trip it was amazing to watch Spring burst forth along the highway.  It occurred to me while I was away, that this is also my one year anniversary of the “Artist at Exit 0 Riverblog”.  I have noticed from other blogs, that their authors frequently feel compelled to say something about the experience and I will attempt to do the same in a few words because I think the  readers this blog has attracted would rather see me go bowling!

Initially, I thought it would be fun to blog through a year’s worth of seasons and move on to the next thing.  But what happened is that I found myself looking forward to posting!  For what I’m doing out at the river, this seems a good medium for sharing my experiences and discoveries and is an alternative to exhibiting my art in the usual ways.  I have had gut check moments when I questioned my motives for blogging, but since my expectations weren’t too high…I haven’t been too disappointed.  I have had a couple of opportunities come my way to present my work and that has been fun.  The coolest thing, however, is reflected in the comments that friends and visitors have left along the way and I have looked forward to reading and replying to them!  To everyone who took the time to bother…you have my heart-felt thanks!!

I have to laugh looking at the photo above because it represents my fifth or sixth attempt to hit the “pins” and record an image of the action.  Normally, I’m a decent shot, but I didn’t take into account the sloping nature of the riverbank.  As I rolled the ball and looked through the camera, the ball would swerve harmlessly away!  It wasn’t a strike, but I was able to pick the spare up on the next ball.  My pins are various fluid-filled plastic bottles I came across in the vicinity of the blue plastic toy bowling ball I found.  Over the years, I have found other genuine bowling balls and a couple of them are among my favorite finds. 

If you were wondering if bowling balls float…the answer is yes!  Their cores are composed of this dense foam that gives them some buoyancy in the water.  Sometimes when I find an object, their immediate identity might remain a mystery until I have fully checked the object out.  In the first photo, it might not be apparent that these are bowling balls.  But, if I flip them over….

…then you can see the characteristic three finger holes drilled into the ball.  What really blows me away with these balls is their condition.  I can’t imagine too many things tougher to destroy than one of these balls, but this is exactly what the river did!  I imagine that over the years, these bowling balls must have bounced off rocks, logs, and barges on their way to the sands of the Falls of the Ohio.  Here are a few more shots of these amazing balls.

The red exterior of this ball has always reminded me of some hard candy you might find in a dish at your grandma’s house.  I especially like how this ball has weathered.  It has a nice flat spot on one side that I guess was created by abrasion in the sand?  I also like the balance between outer covering and inner core.  Judging from the size of the finger holes, this was probably a child’s ball or someone with a small hand.  The last ball is amazing because the remains of the finger holes create this haunting face image complete with an ear off to the side.  I have seen figurative American Indian art with similar facial expression.  I also find the crack that runs through this ball to be an attractive element.  Again, it’s a testament to the power of river and the amount of energy it can exert on an object.  Through the years I have found several bowling balls, but I have only kept these two.

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