The late afternoon light has this wonderful ability to turn the normally silvery driftwood golden. It’s a form of alchemy that nature performs on a nearly daily basis if the sun is willing. I have a few hours to scout around and make something should the opportunity arise. One of the first places I go by is my Styro-atelier to check on how the big figure Ariana and I worked on is holding up. There is usually some suspense as to whether the spot has been discovered and will the sculpture be intact or there at all?
This time everything appears in order. I sit on the nice plank of wood I found and set up to be my work area and I survey my materials. Grabbing a smaller piece of Styrofoam, the beginnings of an idea start to take shape. I will try to make my idea physical by using the poor materials I have scavenged off the riverbank. I have given myself the limitation of not being able to carve the Styrofoam. It would be easier to bend my idea to my will if I allowed myself to cut away. As it is, I just poke holes in the Styrofoam. In this way, I feel my process respects the shaping that the river has already done. It’s an odd kind of collaboration, but I think the river is okay with this because the mighty Ohio has rewarded me in so many ways. Having this limitation is also a bit of a nice challenge.
I created the head first and I have the interesting notion that much in life enters the world in this way. Reaching into my grab bag of bits and pieces I find the plastic nozzle from an aerosol can and this becomes a mouth. The eyes are dots of coal. The nose is…I don’t know what, just some piece of yellow plastic. The ears are wood. I found a plastic pink star and this becomes my figure’s headgear. I like the energy and activity of this pose.
When I was younger, I used to do a lot of running. Now, I do a lot of walking. After so many years of sports and various forms of wear and tear, I can feel my age in my knees. The figure in my hands has turned into a runner and I set him up around the Falls as though it were a cross-country course with obstacles to navigate around. The Twilight Runner has had an easy time of it so far, but now the course is about to test him.
After running over a fairly dry shore line, our runner has jumped into an evaporating puddle. It’s still too wet and our guy is becoming mired and a little panicky. I recall as a child having this classic dream of traveling in the country by train. At one point in the journey the train stops and passengers (myself included) disembark and wander into a field. From over the nearby dreamtime hills the sound of barking dogs gets louder. Everyone else hurries back to the train, but I stand there transfixed watching the pack of wild dogs cresting the hill and running towards me. I manage to turn and start running back to the train, but the ground has turned to mud and every step in running away takes the greatest effort. I could hear the dogs gaining on me, but I make it back to the train safely. I do recall, however, feeling scared that I wouldn’t make it. Mud has a way of making you feel helpless. Fortunately, the runner is in no danger and the puddle is a small one and he manages to move onwards.
There are people fishing on the riverbank as the runner goes by a tire set upright in the now drying mud. Among the junk deposited here by the river, the runner discovers a small soccer ball and decides to use it and the tire to good use. It is World Cup time after all and I have a team in the finals for the first time since 1978!
I was born in Amsterdam and have always followed the Dutch team. I will need to find my orange t-shirt and hope it brings us luck. If it doesn’t, well, I might need to go back to the river and walks things off a little bit. Either way, it has been an entertaining tournament. I am glad, however, that this event only happens once every four years!