Posts Tagged ‘squirrel’

On a very chilly day and after a snow storm, I was able to visit the Falls and take stock of the happenings.  The snow came quickly and from an eastern direction.  You can see that from the trees where snow built up on one side leaving the opposite side clean.  As I had suspected, the rising river from the previous week had played havoc on my trusty studio site.  It took me awhile to recognize where that spot had been.  I will have to wait until after the snow leaves to determine if any of the materials I had stored there are still in the area.  As for the sculptures I had left to weather in place…

… they are still there, but disarticulated.  The rising water level with its floating logs and driftwood, knocked everything down, and carried parts of my work, back out into the river.  The image above is what remains of Pot Belly, a large work from several posts ago.  I found his head, but he was missing all of his features.  His partner, Lorraine, was near him, but had suffered the same fate.  Further down the park, I came across Penguin Boy (sans life-jacket and head) and what was left of the uncle figure.  By now, I am over any sense of loss.  I will miss coming to that particular spot under the willows, but I know I will make other make-shift studios and they too will wash away.  As for the large pieces of Styrofoam that are still around, I probably will recycle those into other sculptures provided they stay.  This time of year and early spring are usually when we get the high waters.  With all the snow that has fallen (even more is scheduled in a couple of days) the resulting melt water will overwhelm this part of the park again.  Perhaps it will flood several more times, who knows?  This is all just a part of the process.

Making things is the best antidote in a situation like this.  I might be temporarily rootless, but my need to make images from objects remains strong.  I tell myself that coming out here, especially on such an inhospitable day is a sure sign of dedication and commitment to my art.  Perhaps it is, but who really cares except me?  When you strip it down, it has more to do with my own needs than anything else.  I muse about this blog being a vicarious way for me to recall some of my work.  Anyway, laid out on a snowy log are the materials I found to make that day’s figure.  By this time, my finger tips are numb which makes handling small objects more difficult.  While I am fumbling away, this squirrel is watching me as I work and I’m having a regular conversation with it.  I ask how the winter is going and apologize for not bringing any food with me among other topics of mutual interest.

With the added distraction from the squirrel, here’s what I came up with on this day.  Finding the star wand was my big find along the riverbank and I incorporated it with the figure.  I’ll let that object add to any sense of a narrative that an observer might care to construct.  I was too cold to care about matters like that!

I left the figure near the Interpretive Center, but kept the wand.  Believe it or not, I have a collection going of found and mostly bubble wands and this adds some depth to that collection!  I should assemble that for a photograph and post it.  As I left the park, I did take one more image from the Indiana side of the Ohio River.  Past the railroad bridge, a portion of Louisville’s modest skyline can be seen.   Stay warm and dry everybody!

Read Full Post »

Watchful Willie, top view, 10/09

As promised, the weekend at the river was gorgeous.  I spent the greater part of Sunday in the sun and being absorbed by my absurd art form.  The willow leaves that hadn’t already dropped to the ground were now more yellow than green.  Autumn is a fragile season at the Falls.  If you blink you can miss it and I wanted to place a figure in this setting before that happened.  I moved to my studio spot and created this guy from materials I had gathered previously and snapped these images.

Watchful Willie's head, 10/09

Here’s Willie’s head in my hand.  I started with an odd-shaped hunk of weathered Styrofoam and fished out some bobbers from my bag to use for eyes.  As you can see, they don’t exactly match, but they work with the form and make it more expressive.  The mouth is a piece of red plastic and I’m not sure what the nose was in a previous life.  Maybe you do?

gray squirrel, 10/09

While I worked on my figure, I wasn’t completely alone.  This handsome gray squirrel decided that I posed no threat and sat on the opposite end of the same log I was sitting on!  None of my movements seemed to concern it and so I kept doing what I was doing and it did the same.  I have had the feeling on more than one occasion that animals reveal their presence to me.  Connecting with life in those moments is a truly magical and intimate experience.  If that happened to more people regularly, there would be no question about falling in love with nature or the need to preserve it.

Watchful Willie, 10/09

The chunk of Styrofoam I selected for the body was really flawed and split easily.  I was barely able to get the legs in before the whole piece started falling apart.  I picked a spot that had all these other “elements” to it and gingerly stuck the sculpture into the wet sand.  When I categorize my work as being “absurd”, it is meant to refer to more than just the figures.  Coming across a stretch of the Ohio River that has several tires, plastic barrels, and rusted-out water heaters along it is equally ridiculous.  The figures I make help create focal points at particular sites and remind people that this kind of callous treatment of a precious resource is something no other animal would think of doing.

Watchful Willie in the landscape, 10/09

I left this figure standing next to the debris and returned to my studio under the willows.  I have long come to the realization that try as I might, I just can’t take all this trash with me.  I have enough river-turned Styrofoam at home to continue this project for a couple of years.  By leaving a work every once in a while I hope that visitors will get the idea that some measure of creativity is required to address the pollution dilemma and that this creativity potentially resides in everyone.  And since I consider the river to be a co-creator in this artwork, there’s probably some karmic significance to letting the water have the last word every now and then.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: