Posts Tagged ‘deer’

vertical and horizontal wood at the Falls, April 2013

When words fail me, my pictures often bail me out.  I’m certainly not much of a  philosopher or poet who can consistently turn just the right phrase.  I suppose this is one reason I gravitated towards the visual arts.  I do, however, try through words and images to create some kind of synthesis that touches upon how human nature intersects with nature at large.  The Falls of the Ohio State Park continues to provide that stage for me and the river offers up many examples where the natural and artificial routinely bump into or meld with one another.  This happens most commonly when we carelessly set free our man-made detritus into the environment.  Following are a few examples I encountered on this outing.

foam deer head archery target, April 2013

Looks like a rock or a piece of wood, but on closer inspection, it’s what’s left of a synthetic deer head used for archery practice.  This head probably once attached to a life-size foam body.  The river has eroded the neck and muzzle away but you can still see an eye spot, ear stub, and a location where artificial antlers could attach.  Once upon a time, this archery target was convincingly realistic.  It’s what’s left of a fake deer where real deer exist.  In the mud very close to this find were actual deer tracks.  Deer have moved into Louisville and it is becoming more common to encounter roadkill within the city’s limits.

toy fantasy horse, April 2013

It’s Kentucky Derby time in the Bluegrass so it is fitting that I find a horse image by the river and what a horse it is!  Shockingly pink with a long flowing mane that cockle burrs and other wayward seeds have become entangled.  How long will it be before our Wizard of Oz science creates real horses of different colors?  I’ve seen that we can already do this with some fresh water aquarium fishes.  Although this toy’s inspiration is the horse…this isn’t a very naturalistic example and was designed to appeal to children.  I bet I could take this horse and plant it in the ground and have some of the attached seeds germinate.

found plastic ice cream cone, April 2013

Because this is tiny, it would be easy to walk over this “prize”. This plastic ice cream cone compliments the small plastic toaster pastry I came across a couple of weeks a go.  I think this might emulate chocolate covered mint ice cream in a wafer cone? I’m still finding plastic fruits and veggies, but I’m also encountering more plastic fake “processed” items including fast food standards like cheese burgers and the occasional petrochemical french fry.

Swept-wing Dove, April 2013

Flying by at great speed and requiring a camera with an extremely fast exposure is the Swept-wing Dove.  This is my latest avian creation.  It’s another fake bird that came together in the context of where Audubon left his footprints.  I casually put this together using found materials which includes plastic, Styrofoam, insulating foam, and I’m not sure what the brown body is made of but it’s some kind of foam as well.  The bill is a pen cap found along the trail.  The forms were shaped by the Ohio River and I used them as is.

Swept-wing dove flying over bottom land, April 2013

Coursing over the bottom land near the river’s edge is my fake bird which is also the habitat of many real birds as well.  The spring migration of neotropical birds heading northward is one of my favorite times of year.  It’s a chance to see species passing through that normally don’t hang out for very long.

Swept-wing dove in flight, April 2013

The insulating foam that forms the right-wing is practically the same value as the river in the distance and causes it to nearly disappear.

April 14, 2013 077_1_1

For thousands of years the river has been a baseline supporting life in the way nature intended.  Now I see a more complicated scene where dislocated images, objects, and substances blur along the shoreline of the conventional. It’s also an odd feeling realizing that much of this trash can also possess a natural beauty of its own.

Two local boys with Swept-winged dove, April 2013

Along this stretch of the river I had these two guys tagging along and asking me questions such as “What are you doing?” and “Mr. did you make the bird and what are you going to do with it?  I asked them if they were artists too and one said yes and the other didn’t believe he was.  I later observed them swinging from a stout vine growing along a sycamore tree and playing in their fantasy world.  Their fathers were nearby fishing at the water’s edge.  I will leave now with a fuller look at the tree I often use to gauge how high the river is.

tree with snagged wooden palette, April 2013

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Ohio River at the Falls, 11/09

In the week since I last visited the Falls of the Ohio, we had enough rain for the Ohio River to rise once again.  The willow trees nearest to the bank were a few feet underwater.  I found the remains of Watchful Willie from a couple of posts ago as well as “fresh” polystyrene scattered all along the shoreline.  I only had a few hours to work this day, so I tried to make the best of it.  Feeling the sunshine again was alone worth the trip, but I saw and made enough stuff to allow me several posts for the week.  Here is my latest Styrofoam creation made spontaneously as the sun was setting.

Little Deer, facing left, 11/09Little Deer, facing right, 11/09

Rummaging around my studio cache of materials under the willow trees I improvised this Little Deer.  It turned out more naturalistic than I anticipated.  Its head is a triangular-shaped piece of thin insulation foam, while the rest of its body is more found Styrofoam.  As is my habit, I have not tried to carve or shape the foam the river has given me.  It’s more about being choosy about what forms I use to begin with.  The work is held together with sharpened pegs.  I did, however, shorten the sticks I used for the legs with my pocket knife.  I attempted to create “eyes” by piercing the blue foam with a small wooden pin, but it left the hole you see and I liked it and left it as is.  The ears are made of pine bark and the tail is another piece of wood.  What’s different this time is that I didn’t try to incorporate another plastic element into the piece.

Little Deer on riverbank, 11/09

Little Deer, 11/09

I walked west along the Indiana side of the river stopping every once in a while to record an image in situ with Little Deer.  The way the light plays with the “eye-hole” causes it to glow and gives it another spark of life.  It made me recall the Henry Moore retrospective I saw at the Guggenheim Museum in New York years ago.  How Moore was able to use a hole as a form in his sculptures remains amazing.  The waves coming ashore threaten to sweep the deer away, but I placed it just out of reach.  Still, the sense that the work is vulnerable comes through the photographs.

Little Deer with Osage Orange, 11/09

One last image with the Little Deer.  This time I set it down next to the fruit of an Osage Orange tree to give it some sense of scale.  Some folks know these as “hedge apples”.  Since today is my sister Pat’s birthday, I would like to dedicate this piece to her.  I hope you had a nice day!  The parting image is something I’m beginning to see with more regularity now.

deer tracks in the sand, 10/09


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deer materials, 7/09

I got soaked to the bone on this day.  A realization I had in the middle of the downpour was that I couldn’t get any wetter than this and so I just relaxed.  I had the whole place to myself, since people smart enough to get out of the rain had done so!  The above image are the materials I laid out for the piece I wanted to make…although I did change this in mid process.

Rain Deer, 7/09

I put the finishing touches on this “Rain Deer” right as the wind picked up and the rain came down in earnest.  All day long I had been dodging small showers and the willow leaves and branches were a good enough umbrella…until then.  Once I located what would become the head, I realized that the Styrofoam “body” I had picked out for it was too small.  I instead used this larger piece of “blue foam”…I’m not sure what exactly it is, but I find enough of it.  It doesn’t seem like polystyrene and has a stiffer texture.  I think I have seen this material used for bow-hunting targets before.  It’s dense enough to stop an arrow.  While I was making this sculpture, a Cooper’s Hawk glided through the trees doing some silent hunting of its own.  I saw the barred-tail fan out as it took a left turn out of view.

Running Rain Deer, 7/09

I guess I have been thinking of deer lately.  More and more, I come across their tracks in the sand and mud.  I haven’t seen a live one within the park’s limits, but over the years, I have found plenty of dead ones.  The most memorable experience occurred early on…really years before I started this project in earnest.  A friend and I were hiking around the willow habitat and we could smell something dead nearby.  Searching around we couldn’t locate the source.  For whatever reason, I remember looking up and seeing a dead deer about 10 or 12 feet up lodged in the tree branches.  A  recent flood had deposited the deer there and receded.  At the time, it was a good ground eyes’ view of how high the river could get.

Rain Deer at water hole, 7/09

The passing shower left lots of opportunities to play with reflections and the idea of wildlife coming down to waterholes…which is a staple shot in nature films.  The way this piece is standing, it appears like it has three front legs or is in motion!  I made the head so that the Rain Deer can either look  forward or over its shoulder.  The nose is a split butternut and the eyes are old buckeyes.

Rain Deer at waterhole, 7/09

Rain Deer looking back, 7/09

Our white-tailed deer population is exploding with dramatic consequences.  The number of human injuries from deer collisions with  motorists is up.  More and more deer are appearing in the outlying neighborhoods were they feast on the various gardens and make nuisances of themselves.  Deer are literally eating themselves out of their habitat and damaging the ecosystems other animals rely upon.  For the first time, I’m coming across ticks and I’m attributing their appearance here with the deer they parasitize.

Rain Deer at Waterhole, 7/09

Deer are a good indicator species for the health of the ecosystem.  As we open up the forests we create the kind of habitat deer thrive in.  Deer have taken advantage of this…deer population is much higher now than when the Pilgrims first arrived here.  Although I couldn’t do it, I can see why hunting  them is necessary to control their populations.  Too many deer in one place degrades the habitat also needed by other ground dwelling animals.  But then again, why should we hold the deer accountable for the conditions we created and promoted? The deer is just being true to its nature…can the same be said of us?

Rain Deer head, 7/09

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