I was looking for materials for a new project I’m working on and came upon this event on the driftwood pile at the Falls of the Ohio. There is so much wood massed and interlocked with itself that I wondered if fire could be a possibility here? The answer to that question is obviously yes.
I don’t know what started the fire…it could have been set by man or it could have been a lightning strike. The latter part of our summer has been dry. The fire was quick and essentially burned the surface of most of the larger logs out here as black as coal. I noticed that part of this raft of wood snagged next to this brick foundation of a building that has been a wreck as long as I have been coming out here which is over twenty years now. I don’t know what this building was originally used for and I wonder if this could have been some person’s house once upon a time? That might not be right since this area is prone to flooding nearly every year.
One thing I know was that someone tried to put this fire out. I came across quite a length of fire hose that had been cut. The canvas and rubber hose bore a stamp that said it was made in Canada. Perhaps the hose was severed because the fire swirled quickly becoming unpredictable and all this wood presented many opportunities for hang ups and snags. It would be hard to maneuver over it. Seems there was a cut and run moment and the hose was left behind. A sculptor friend of mine, Don Lawler, said that cut lengths of fire hose are perfect for protecting the edges of his limestone sculptures when he hoists them into to position with his ropes and crane. I think I will salvage some of this hose for my sculptor friends.
One reason I was on the driftwood pile was to look for empty booze bottles. I collected a variety of them in different sizes and made from both glass and plastic. They had to have their caps still on them and I preferred that their labels were soaked off by the river. A found quite a few today to go with the ones I have been collecting over the summer. I’m participating in a group exhibit where the artists address in some way the issues of mountain top removal and our need for coal. I have been filling up both bottles and discarded tires with the coal chunks and gravel that washed into here during the last flooding which also brought in all the driftwood that recently carbonized. Searching under the vines I did find pockets of coal gravel that were several inches deep in places. When I open up each empty bottle there is this heavy malted alcohol aroma that get neutralized by the coal. I’m still working on my coal piece and in the meantime…my exhibit at Bellarmine University with Scott Scarboro opened a couple of nights a go. I’ll post a few shots of the installation in my next post, but in closing here is one view of materials in my church studio room on Barrett Avenue. See you soon.