Posted in Absurd, Art, art and environment, birding, collections, creativity, environmental art, Falls of the Ohio, nature, nature photography, public art, recycled art, Styrofoam, unusual collection, tagged Art, artificial food, artist at exit 0, birds, Culture, Ecostories, environmental story, Falls of the Ohio, material culture, nature, plastic flowers, riverblog, short stories, Styrofoam on February 16, 2014|
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I consider this a great honor that fellow blogger Isaac Yuen focused one of his posts around my art projects from the past year and the tales I’ve created around them. For several years now, I have enjoyed Isaac’s award winning blog Ecostories. He has made me a believer in the power of the spoken and written word to convey universal truths particularly when they speak about our evolving relationship with nature. Stories are important and everyone has a story to tell. Isaac has a great way of taking on complex narratives and making them understandable. I encourage you to check out his thoughtful, positive, and beautifully written blog.
t wasn’t my intention to continue with the art theme. But as the rule of three calls and I learn more about writing and blogging, I found myself more inclined to follow intuition than push through to produce work that doesn’t feel right. Perhaps it was just easier to showcase other people’s incredible work instead of doing research for a long piece. Given the choice between being attuned and growing lazy, I’m sticking with the former interpretation.
I’ve been a fan of Albertus Gorman’s work over at The Artist at Exit 0 Riverblog ever since I began blogging in 2012. For the better part of the last decade, Gorman has used materials washed up at Ohio State Park to create sculptures and craft stories that explore the impacts we have on the places we inhabit. Some of his work from Ohio Falls is now featured in The Potential in…
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Posted in Absurd, Art, art and environment, collecting art, creativity, Ohio River, recycled art, Styrofoam, tagged Art, art exhibition, artist at exit 0, Carnegie Center for Art and History, Falls of the Ohio, gallery talk, homemade balls, New Albany, photography, R. Michael Wimmer, sculpture, softball cores, Styrofoam, The Potential in Everything on February 9, 2014|
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Our first gallery talk about the”Potential in Everything” exhibition happened yesterday. Through a light dusting of falling snow, about 20 people braved the elements to hear R. Michael Wimmer and myself talk about our respective projects. I was delighted by the turnout and had a great time too. I am glad to have had this gallery opportunity because the river has been so high of late that getting to my usual spots at the Falls of the Ohio has been a challenge. Perhaps this is nature’s way of redirecting me?
It was a nice mixed ages group and a few local artists attended as well. People were very respectful and asked some interesting questions. Michael and I have very different processes, but the end results involve using something that has already functioned in the world and making something new from them. For me, that shift took many years of transition because my formal artistic training involved “staring down” a blank piece of paper or canvas and making something happen in a more traditional way. Although my old drawing professor might disagree with me about this…so much of the work I now do comes out of the conceptual concerns I first encountered through drawing.
When I get the chance to talk about art and creativity in general, I like to mention how important it is for all of us to cultivate that impulse to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Sadly, I hear far too often from too many people how they aren’t artistic or have any business being involved with creative acts and I know this to be untrue. I feel that part of my role is to get folks to expand their definitions of what is creative or aesthetically minded. Creativity is a precious, universal resource and available in everyone and may represent much of our hopes for a better future. We need to get people turned on to their own potentials instead of emphasizing the consumer in them. Too help illustrate this I brought my Homemade Ball Collection with me and placed it upon the pedestal that my “Flat-faced Cat with Bird” is sitting on. I found all these “balls” at the Falls and they are made from electrical tape, duct tape, cellophane tape, and aluminum foil. Rolling these waste materials into balls is not necessary for their disposal, however, I was struck by the artistic impulse I perceived in them by their anonymous makers to shape and form. There is obvious care in their making and rolling something into a cohesive ball has a satisfying side to it. After this sidebar and when the talk ended, I went outside to see how my “other” ball piece in the tulip poplar in front of the center was doing?
“La Belle Riviere” seemed to be in good shape. I was curious to see if any ice would be decorating it, but not this time. Ice can contribute a lot of weight which might take my nylon line beyond its limits. I look forward to spring’s arrival and how the appearance of this piece will change as the tree transforms. New Albany, Indiana is just a few miles downriver from Louisville. The town has an extensive riverfront and I took the opportunity to check it out in greater detail.
There is a large earthen berm that protects the New Albany from the adjacent Ohio River. A key feature of their riverfront is this structure used for concerts and special events.
One way to reach New Albany from Louisville is to cross the river over the Sherman Minton Bridge. Bridges in our area are a usual and often contentious topic of conversation. This one was closed down recently for much-needed repairs, but caused a headache for commuters while it was being fixed. Bridges are vital to river towns and a new one is currently being constructed near Louisville’s downtown. This new bridge was years in the planning and much of the controversy surrounding it involved where exactly would it cross the river and how would it tie into the existing interstate highway systems. The Ohio River has been high due to snow and rain in the upper part of the valley, but I walked down to the river’s edge and guess what I found?
Yes, it’s river polished Styrofoam. There’s goes my main art material floating towards the Gulf of Mexico. There are a couple other events associated with “The Potential of Everything” exhibit including a family workshop I will be leading on March 1. I have enough collected sticks and polystyrene that it will be fun making things with other people. I will also be giving a solo gallery talk on March 4. Michael will be doing a studio talk and welcoming people to visit his place on March 25. And, there will be a closing tea and cookies event at the Carnegie on the exhibit’s last day on April 5. So, if you are in the area and haven’t seen the show…there are other opportunities coming hopefully in beautiful weather! If you want to see my found homemade balls in more detail, I did a previous post about it entitled “The Need to Form: Handmade Balls from the Falls of the Ohio” and can be found in this blog’s search feature. Speaking of balls, I did find one other item by the river in New Albany and I’ll end this post with it. Stay warm out there!
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Posted in Absurd, Art, art and environment, birds and birding, ecosytem, environmental art, nature, nature photography, public art, recycled art, sculpture, watershed, tagged Art, art in public spaces, artist at exit 0, Falls of the Ohio, found materials sculpture, ice, ice formations, nature, nature photography, polar vortex, recycled art, Styrofoam art on February 1, 2014|
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Polar vortex…that’s the new buzz words for us this winter. The Kentuckiana area has tasted this Arctic gift twice so far and we haven’t had a winter this cold in many years. It manifests with the temperature bottoming out around 0 degrees Fahrenheit…colder still with the wind chill. Snow and ice also accompany this blast of icy weather. Once under the spell of the polar vortex…all one can do is ride it out. It’s going to be bone-chilling cold for several days in a row. Even if you know it’s going to happen, you really don’t feel prepared for it. People tape plastic over their windows to trap heat and foil wind. Shoppers rush out to purchase bread and milk. Folks let the faucets drip throughout the day and night to prevent freezing and bursting water pipes. Still, the plumbers are busy. Extra layers of clothes are needed however, you still feel cold around the edges. If there is a weakness in a machine…the extreme cold will find it and this happened to my trusty rivermobile. School may be out, but otherwise it’s pretty much business as usual.
The part about “business as usual” also strikes me as being a bit sad. I am of the opinion that the reason the Earth has winter is to slow everything down and that’s vitally necessary. It’s meant to be reflective and allows a moment for a deep breath before moving on again. We all have more than enough pushing us to accomplish tasks at increasing breakneck speed. The polar vortex challenges us to slow down if we can.
In an effort to foster personal wonder for the world, I made it out to the Falls of the Ohio on a day that wouldn’t risk frost bite. Over the years, I have prized coming out here on cold winter days especially if it meant seeing different ice formations. There are ice ribbons, sausage-shaped icicles, frozen homemade candles, and just plain ice blobs on display. I love the variety of forms and the play of light through the magic of solid water. The most interesting ice formations are near the water’s edge where the willow trees catch the rising steam off of the river. The water is warmer than the surrounding air temperatures and this “fog” helps coat the roots and branches with glassy layers of ice. I thought I had the place all to myself when I was joined in this frigid landscape by a new friend.
He described himself as being a fellow “ice tourist” and so that’s how I remember him. He said he was curious about the ice, but also wary of stepping through thin ice and feeling the burn of extremely cold water. I’ve had this experience before and so I could relate. The Ice Tourist told me he had followed my tracks into the ice field and so far I had kept him out of danger. We spent about an hour together before parting. Here are some more pictures of him posed next to the ice formations we encountered.
The Ice Tourist had to check out everything as closely as possible. He would climb upon the willow branches and roots to get the best view. As it turns out, he was a local guy who like me, likes to hang out near the river whenever he can. He was wearing a very thin and worn out t-shirt that said something about the town of Jeffersonville on it. That’s the next town over from the Falls of the Ohio State Park. I mentioned something about the poor condition of his garment and how it didn’t look substantial enough to keep him warm. His response was that feeling warm was as much a mental state of mind and he was far too engaged by this novel environment to feel the cold.
The sun was rising. The day was warming and the ice was beginning to drip and lose its strength. Today’s show was at an end. The image of a hot cup of coffee or cocoa was starting to have great appeal to me and so I said my farewell to the Ice Tourist. Perhaps we will run into one another again at the river…we shall see? Leaving my new friend behind, I walked the riverbank and could see that the Ring-billed gulls that had been absent during the polar vortex were once again in residence in the park. I wonder if the groundhogs will see their shadows tomorrow?
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