I was standing by the river’s edge when the dam’s siren went off. At first it scares the pee out of you! It’s a loud wail, but you get use to it. The Army Corps of Engineers gives the warning whenever they plan to release more water under the dam. Throughout the region there have been heavy thunder showers and the river has risen quickly. I worked at the Falls both on Saturday and Sunday and so I have a number of things I can share over the course of the week. Technically, it’s not yet summer, but my clothes are stuck to me with sweat and I’m glad for the nice bottle of cold water to drink. So often, I’m guilty of not bringing something with me to keep hydrated. I make a pact with myself to do better this summer.
The weekend’s weather report calls for rain on both days, but I managed to dodge that. I spent a lot of time exploring a mammoth deposit of driftwood near the dam. If the past is an indicator of the future, then the river will probably not change very much for now and I look for a site higher on the riverbank to set up another temporary studio. I did come across a project I did a few weeks back that was featured in the post “Tug of War”. His buddy must be around here too. I find the plastic broken toy-part I used for his friend’s crazy hairdo…they are cartoonish fisheyes.
With such humidity, this is a perfect time for mushrooms and fungi to get their hyphi through the soft tissues of decaying matter. The process of reclaiming old life kicks into gear. It’s really the small stuff like bacteria, viruses, and fungi that do the dirty work of releasing nutrients back into the system. The planet is ruled from those kingdoms while we posture around self-importantly. This fungus was tiny, but so colorful that I thought I would try to magnify it and reveal how fleshy it is in its crack.
On a nearby log, a male Five-lined Skink is taking a break from his hunt to bask in the sun. For him, it’s breeding season and you can tell that by the reddish blush he has around his head. This guy’s lines are indistinct and he’s bronze in color. The young lizards have very pronounced black and white stripes and their tails are bright blue.
One of the sites I considered for my informal studio is this place with a chair set in front of this large upturned tree. Sitting in the chair you can perfectly study all the intricate roots as easily if it were situated in your home library. I decided it’s just a little too public and I look higher up the bank, under the willows and their welcomed shade.
I’ve scouted out the area pretty well and on my mental map of this place, I’ve noted where the nicer Styrofoam pieces are. It took almost two hours to move things into place. The larger pieces I hoist onto my shoulder and carefully walking on top of the logs and driftwood reach the new cache I’ve created. Here’s a piece nearly as tall as I am from the Styrofoam mine that I set upright and photographed. I don’t have an idea for this one yet!
Here’s an in process shot of the gathering of the polystyrene. There are several nice sitting logs in the area to work from and it’s under the willows enough to avoid the direct sunshine and there are usually birds around here as well. My favorite Lewis and Clark canvas bag is nearby for scale.
Here’s the same site about an hour later. There is still one really large piece I haven’t secured at this location yet. I can’t wait to start making something from all this stuff! I also have started gathering driftwood to serve as the arms and legs and I’ve stashed that away here as well. The mallet in the foreground is made of plastic with simulated wood grain.
By the time I got around to making a sculpture, it was fairly late in the day. The resulting piece I dubbed the “Petro-totem” and it takes its initial cue from the skull-like piece of Styrofoam that makes up part of the head. This piece also features a plastic heart, genitalia (made from walnuts and a plastic toy fire hydrant I found). The hat is some kind of funnel. The finished work is far from one of my happier creations. I just started working on it and making decisions as I went along and this was the result.
I posed this sculpture in several places and photographed it as I moved it around. There are many tires on the beach and someone has cut many of them so they can’t retain water. Mosquitoes love to breed in the dank water that collects inside these tires. An old paint can with its red pigment is used to “sign” the tires…somehow I doubt these are the same people who altered the tires. It seemed a provoking enough spot to set up a my Styrofoam figure. I snap of a couple of shots and moved on.
In a future post, I will show you where I eventually left this work. In closing, I found this little commentary on the big driftwood pile and recorded that with my camera. The “behind the eight ball” figure was found near by and I added that to the image.