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Archive for August, 2013

riverblog on computer monitor, The Seven Borders, KMAC, Aug. 2013 As promised, here is a post about the “The 7 Borders, Mapping Kentucky’s Regional Identity” exhibition at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville.  My “Artist at Exit 0 Riverblog” has been a part of this show which opened on June 29 and runs through September 1.  I’m honored to have been asked by KMAC and curator Joey Yates to participate especially since this is the first time my blogging activities have appeared in an art context.  My display in the museum included a few small Styrofoam artifacts, a computer monitor on a table with chairs, a box for handwritten comments, and a label on the wall.  Not quite your typical art offering.  If, however, you think of the computer as a keyhole that you can peer through to a different reality…then you get transported to the world of the Artist at Exit 0 at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  At your fingertips are over 360 posts and more than 3500 images and my own peculiar blend of fact and fiction.  Many of you who follow this blog have been nice enough to leave recent comments and I wonder if you realized that you were participating in this exhibition too?  At the end of this post, I will add the comments that visitors left for me in the little box so that they can be a part of this exhibition record as well.  For now, I would like to share some other images of the works that are (were) a part of this exhibition. The 7 Borders, installation view, Aug. 2013 Eighteen artists are participating in this exhibition.  A few of the artists either currently live in Kentucky or are originally from here.  The majority of the artists, however, live in the seven contiguous states that border the commonwealth, hence “The 7 Borders”.  In the above image, works by Rashid Johnson are on the wall, while Brian McCutcheon’s whimsically modified cooking grill entitled “Trailer Queen II” rests on the floor. The 7 Borders, gallery view, Aug. 2013 The exhibition is a survey of contemporary works produced in a geographical area that is often hard to define.  At various times, Kentucky has been considered by Americans to be the frontier west, the Midwest, or the most northern of the southern states.  The fact this region has been historically hard to place is attractive to me.  For a professional artist, one downside is that the nearest art market of any size is in Chicago.  Many of the artworks in “The 7 Borders” reference issues born of local conditions and landscapes and gain a certain power by not being made for strictly commercial reasons.  The exhibit’s curator wrote: “Each of the artists represented is witness to varying views of the region focusing on personal history and collective experience.”  In the gallery shot above are paintings by Claire Sherman, a photo series by Guy Mendes, and a unique chest of drawers that looks like a stacked firewood entitled “Facecord” by Mark Moskovitz. "The River" by Andrew Douglas Underwood, The 7 Borders, KMAC, Aug. 2013 This mixed media work is entitled “The River” and the artist is Andrew Douglas Underwood who originally is from Louisville.  Personally, I relate to Underwood’s piece because it weaves together metaphors and history relating to people’s long association with the Ohio River.  This work effectively combines photography, embroidery, and found objects. "Pre-Fab(ulous) Environments", Leticia Bajuyo, at KMAC Leticia Bajuyo’s “Pre-Fab(ulous) Environments” is an installation piece located on the museum’s second floor.  Her multimedia piece with its blue Styrofoam installation house and suburban floor map complete with Happy Meal-styled folding cardboard houses reference contemporary suburban neighborhoods. "Roan Mountain Matrix", Denise Burge, The 7 Borders, KMAC This is an image of “Roan Mountain Matrix” by Denise Burge who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Her large fabric and thread works quote traditional Appalachian quilting while alluding to changes occurring to the land and its people through contemporary processes like mountain top coal removal. "Bog Taan", Joel McDonald, at KMAC, Aug. 2013 Joel McDonald’s “Bog Taan” is a tour-de-force mixed media drawing on 26 sheets of watercolor paper.  This is a large, obsessively detailed work that touches upon the artist’s social views as told through the context of his Germantown neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky.  McDonald has a deep understanding and appreciation for 20th Century illustration.  You could look at this artwork for a long time and keep finding images within it.

To conclude this post, I would like to include the comments left by gallery visitors upon engaging my blog in the gallery.  Some of the comments are by children who participated in summer camp programs organized by the museum.

BLOG COMMENTS

“Love this – so fun!

I once saw a duck taking a nap on a submerged & upside down shopping cart on the L-ville side of the OR (Ohio River)”

“The Joe Arbor set was sweet. Poignant. – you should do stop action animation.”

“Love the triker! and the deer-Styrobuck! and the spider-and Pip and the fish-”

“It’s beautiful, I love it! – famous artist”

“Looks like garbage to me!”

“Be cooler if it was metal”

“Some really remarkable & moving works!  Really enjoyed 7 borders.”                       Lou Knowles…Forest Hills, New York

“I like it!  Keep up the good work!”

“So Playful!  What a blast.  Thank you.”

“I like it!”

“Very interesting, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Love the blue nose man”

“dirty + whimsical like crawling through a broken greenhouse in the backyard + making toys as a child”  Lilly Ettinger

“Love it!” “???” “Fabulous: fun, imaginative & thought provoking…Thank you”                                     Mary from Wisconsin

“Quirky & original.  Brought a smile to my face”  K. Woodard (art teacher UK)

“I like the very last peice.  I think personally it looks like here is a passage in between the trunk and the roots”

” I agree we did not make enough “to do” about the beginning of manned flight.  I wouldn’t be here enjoying our work without a flight by plane.  Also like your reminder to “follow your dreams”  Kay Gorman (Maryland)

“Love them!  Priddy Cool!”

“This is very suspicious and cool to see what people throw in the river”

“Ummmm!”

“Love the birds…they are alive.”  Adrian (New Zealand)

“It looks like two snowman”

“I think this was awsome”

“Love the recycling, cute and clever.  Loved to take the time to see the whole-plus the blog.- Just a passer-by, Aug. ’13”

“Fab Al – Love where you went with this – Always happy too see your dementia”  Paul and Sandy Sasso………..these folks are old college friends of mine

“They look like Big, Dirty, Marshmallows”

“You are awesome”

THIS WAS THE LAST OF THE COMMENTS LEFT AT THE EXHIBITION.  NEXT TIME…SEE YOU FROM THE RIVER!

 

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purple loosestrife at the Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

This post includes two recent trips to the Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) flowers in the western section of the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  I have made my peace with the fact that the Purple Loosestrife plant is an invasive species at this location. It is really successful at crowding out the other plants that gather in this wetlands area. Originally introduced from Europe, the Purple Loosestrife has spread across the United States.  Eradicating it is very difficult because millions of seeds are produced annually and the loosestrife can grow with just a fragment of root in the ground.  The loosestrife probably doesn’t realize that it has this poor reputation for it provides beauty to the landscape and food for a myriad of insects, particularly butterflies.  Surely, the loosestrife can be forgiven for being itself?  Can the same be said of our kind who after all perpetuated the Purple Loosestrife by planting it to begin with and then allowing it to escape into the larger environment?  The loosestrife arrived here floating down the river.  I can recall when there wasn’t any to be found in the park.

The Butterfly Man, 9/2010

Here’s a flashback from three years a go.  I remember it was my lavender-lipped friend, the Butterfly Guide, who introduced me to this loosestrife stand back in September of 2010.  We had a great time together and I managed a few nice butterfly images on that day.  Ever since the Butterfly Guide showed me the way, I’ve been returning on my own and observing and documenting what happens here.  I heard through the grapevine that my old friend has since passed on and is conducting tours in the great beyond.  He had a knack for revealing beauty to all who wanted to experience it.  Seeing his image again makes me feel nostalgic.

Eastern Checkerspot

This is an Eastern or Harris’ Checkerspot (Chlosyne harrisii) and was the most numerous butterfly I saw visiting the loosestrife flowers.  They were so intent on sipping nectar that it was easy to approach them as they fed.  Now for a few more checkerspot images.

Eastern Checkerspot feeding, Aug. 2013

Eastern Checkerspot, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

Eastern Checkerspot, Aug. 2013, Falls of the Ohio

I found myself carefully wading into the flowers to get as close as possible.  Many of the flower bunches were in the six to seven feet tall range and it was humid walking among the plants.  We have been having a mild streak lately with lower than normal temperatures and regular precipitation.  Residents in our locality have had few reasons to complain about the heat.  The checkerspots are not the only butterflies out here.  Various swallowtail butterflies also enjoy these flowers.  Here are images of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Papilio glaucus).

Tiger Swallowtail on purple loosestrife, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

Tiger Swallowtail on Purple Loosestrife, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

We are fortunate to have many other species of swallowtails in our area.  Among the others I have associated with the loosestrife flowers include the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), the American or Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes), and the Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus).  Here’s an image of a Spicebush Swallowtail feeding.

Spicebush Swallowtail on Purple Loosestrife, Aug. 2013

We have several different Skipper species present.  This is the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus).  The white spot on its hind wing shines like mother-of-pearl when the light hits it just right.

Silver-spotted Skipper on Purple Loosestrife, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

Another regular visitor is the Cabbage Butterfly (Pieris rapae).

Cabbage Butterfly, Aug. 2013

Cabbage Butterfly caught by a spider, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

I was struck by the unusual pose this Cabbage Butterfly was in and decided to get closer to check it out.  When it didn’t fly away…I knew something else was going on.  Although you can’t see it in this picture, a small spider has caught this butterfly by its head.  With so many insects feeding on the loosestrife, predators were sure to follow.  Large bumble bees also enjoy these flowers.  They are so heavy that they cause the loosestrife stems to bend upon landing on them.

Bumble Bee on loosestrife flowers, Aug. 2013

Over the years, I have watched the Purple Loosestrife become more common in the western section of the park.  The plant is now well established.  Typically, the loosestrife blooms continuously from July to September, but to my eye, it is looking like the blooms are starting to play out a bit?  Every year is different and some butterflies are more common in one year than another.  Missing from the loosestrife blooms this year are the Buckeyes, Monarchs, and their mimics…the Viceroy Butterflies.  Perhaps they will still make an appearance later on if the loosestrife flowers continue blooming.  I hope you have enjoyed wading through the loosestrife with me?  Next time, I will post something about the exhibition at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft that is featuring this blog in their show.  Now time for one final image before closing.Purple Loosestrife at the Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

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Tree in the western section of the Falls of the Ohio State Park, Aug. 2013

Resolved to stay away from my old atelier under the willow trees for a while, I decided to explore the western section of the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  It was just the most beautiful day and residents of our area have remarked on how unusually nice it’s been of late.  The air today has wonderful clarity and although it’s summer and the sun is shining…we are many degrees below our usual temps.  I feel the western part of the Falls of the Ohio begins once you cross the creek at the end of the Woodland Loop Trail.  This is an area that receives fewer visitors and I’m happy just to wander with nothing on my mind.  As I walk the narrow strip of land that is the riverbank, on my left are sounds from the river and on my right are various bird songs originating under the tree canopy.  I see the formerly high river has deposited driftwood here in new configurations along with the usual plastic junk.  My eyes are open and ready for anything.  I doesn’t take very long before I make the first of several discoveries new to me in and around a patch of Wild Potato-Vines.

Goldstein's False Mum among Wild Potato Vine flowers, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

Close up of Goldstein's False Mum, Aug. 2013

This is Goldstein’s False Mum which is named after the resident naturalist at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  This is another in a series of very odd flowers while being organic by definition  have little in common with the other plants that grow along side of them.  In general, plastic-like blooms and foliage characterize these botanical rarities.  None of these plants (which form a new order of their own called Artificialia ) are capable of photosynthesis despite the appearance of green leaves.  Goldstein’s False Mum is a summer plant that produces a hard, yellow, frilly blossom that appears on the terminal end of a woody stem.  It prefers sandy, disturbed soils or decaying wood and is usually seen in the company of traditional flowering plants.  It produces no scent and no insects were observed being attentive to the false mum.  Now the Wild Potato-Vine is also an interesting plant.  It is a member of the Morning Glory family and its bloom is primarily white with a purplish maroon throat.  I have seen large bumble bees pollinating this flower.  What sets this plant apart is under the ground.  The Wild Potato-Vine produces a large tuber that had food value for the indigenous people.  Here is a another specimen of Goldstein’s False Mum growing out of a soft, decaying log also in the presence of Wild Potato-Vines.

Goldstein's False Mum and Wild Potato-Vine flowers, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

Not too far away and also in association with the Wild Potato-Vines is another type of plastic-like plant and here is its portrait.

Wild Potato-Vine blossom with Saprophytic Zinnia, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

The Saprophytic Zinnia, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

The Log Weed is a saprophytic plant.  Lacking chlorophyll it relies on decaying matter for its sustenance.  The Log Weed is characterized by a corolla of hard plastic-like petals and never has what we would describe as leaves coming off its woody stem.  No one is quite sure how it propagates? Its blossoms appear in mid summer and seem to hang around forever.

Trumpet Creeper, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

These are tubular flowers from the Trumpet Creeper vine which is a native and natural sight at the Falls of the Ohio.  This is a climbing, spreading vine and wood ants seem to love them.  If you look closely at the above photo…you can see several ants crawling on the Trumpet Creeper’s attractive blooms.  I was admiring this vine when I noticed that there was something not quite right about it and this is what I discovered.

Unknown fruit on Trumpet Creeper, Aug. 2013

Notice the yellow orb to the upper right of the Trumpet Creeper blossoms? Thus far, the yellow fruit with its accompanying leaf remain unclassified.  It is, however, grafted to the woody stem of the vine.  Amazingly, it even has a false stem to deceive.  Could it be parasitic?  One hypothesis why this plant with the odd fruit appears with Trumpet Creeper might be the protection it receives from the vine’s wood ants?  The fruit and leaf are also very polymer-like and may indeed be plastic.  More and more we are learning how ubiquitous plastic is in the environment.  I heard a report about the Great Lakes the other day saying that there is a considerable amount of micro plastic in these large bodies of fresh water.  Upon examination, much of this plastic takes the form of tiny balls that are blended into deodorants and toothpaste to make the product flow more evenly.  These beads are so small that they pass through the finest screens at the waste water treatment plants and into the lakes.  I think Nature is metabolizing this plastic and recombining the hydrocarbons in novel ways, but that is just my theory.

Cottonwood tree fort, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

I paid my favorite cottonwood tree a visit and it’s been a while since I took shelter under its large, exposed roots.  People, especially the locals, like hanging out here and I witnessed much less trash since my last visit which is a good thing.  One big “improvement” has been made with the addition of a red, upholstered couch and I took a moment to rest here before moving on.

red couch under the cottonwood tree, Aug. 2013

The couch is very comfortable and I’m amazed that people actually dragged this piece of furniture down here.  Eventually, it will be reclaimed by the river.  Here’s another view from under the tree.

space under the cottonwood tree, Aug. 2013

For those who prefer their comforts a bit more on the rustic side…there is another bench for seating and it’s made from a slab of wood balanced on short logs.

under the cottonwood tree, Aug. 2013

I rested, had a snack and drank some water before moving on.  I’ve designated my intended destination as “Loosestrife Land” for the abundance of these non-native flowers that have taken over moist areas in the western section of the park.  I’m going there seeking something else which will be the subject of my next post.  I’ll catch up with you soon but for now…so long and happy trails to you.

Purple Loosestrife flowers in bloom, Falls of the Ohio, Aug. 2013

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the riverbank, cracks in clay, July 2013

I never told you how this story played out and so now is as good a time as any.  A few weeks back, I had posted on how some unknown visitor(s?) had been altering my outdoor studio at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  For a least two years previously, I had been storing my river found art materials at this site.  People who stumbled upon this spot often mark their presence by changing how I left it in some way.  Folks might rifle through the junk or take or destroy the Styrofoam figures I might leave behind.  I don’t mind this…in fact, I encourage the interaction.  On site, it’s easy to make the connection that all these poor materials I use came from the river.  I still think of my outdoor studio as a shared laboratory for this exercise in creativity.  It’s an acknowledgement that all this junk is out there and that something else positive might come from it.  For several weekends, my latest visitor has been building a wooden driftwood structure over my spot to the point where it usurps my ability to continue working there.  So, I made a few changes that I thought would benefit both of us.  I modified the structure so that I could stand within my site.  I also opened up the space more which I thought also encouraged additions.  I was curious to see how my visitor would react and here are the pictures.

destroyed driftwood structure, July 2013

destroyed driftwood structure, July 2013

destroyed driftwood structure, July 2013

It appears that my “improvements” weren’t appreciated because I arrived one day to find it all laying on the ground.  All the nylon line and strong knots that were holding things together were cut with a knife.  Stuff was scattered and the big polystyrene figure I had left there was destroyed again.  Here’s how I discovered my Styrofoam man.

fallen figure, July 2013

He had been sitting in a fork of a nearby tree.  I think my visitor picked him up and threw him across the site…again!  At this point, I’m feeling pretty bummed out.  I left this figure as I found it.  My visitor also left me some additional trash behind as is his custom and I gathered it together again to create this “portrait”.

trash at my site, July 2013

I thought the “Big Red” with the “Big Blue” was an interesting touch.  In our area, those are the home colors of rival universities.  Another giant Styrofoam cup joined the group and I have my suspicions that the cigar packaging is from the same individual as well?  I think this is what saddens me the most that all this convenient store trash would be walked to this site and simply thrown on the ground.  As much trash that appears here from upriver, I’m shocked by how much park garbage originates from the nearby towns.  And yes, there are trash cans available everywhere.  I sat by my site for a while and pondered the situation.  I wondered why with all the space and driftwood available in the park that this spot became so important to my visitor?  Feeling like this individual more than likely doesn’t play well with others…I decided to walk away from this site for a few weeks or months before returning.  So far, I haven’t been back to my old spot under the willows.

two fishermen, July 2013

The day felt shot, but I didn’t want to leave things that way and so I went for an extra long walk.  After all, I have the rest of the park to potentially explore.! Along the way, I spotted these two guys attempting to fish by the wall of the dam.  They didn’t appear to be having any luck and so I left them with these fishy images by the side of a trail they would pass by.

coal fish, July 2013

coal fish, July 2013

coal fish, July 2013

I used river smoothed coal I gathered on site and improvised these three fish on the sand.  Peppering the silica granules black is coal dust.  The white dots are pulverized mussel shells.

three coal fish on the sand, Falls of the Ohio, July 2013

Thus far, it has been an atypical and sometimes unsettling summer at the Falls of the Ohio.  All the early season rains and subsequent high water have disrupted the usually hot, humid, and lazy routine found here during this time of year.  In an odd way, it doesn’t feel like summer has truly arrived for us yet.  We have a few more months for this to happen before the leaves start turning colors.  To close, here is one more coal-fish image in a slightly larger context.  Have a great weekend!

coal fish in context at the Falls of the Ohio, July 2013

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