Following is a portfolio of images I made the first week of March during a bout of minor flooding that at the time of this writing has not yet subsided. After a late season rain and record-breaking snow storm, the Ohio River predictably has swelled its banks. During the past week, we received several more days of rain that kept the water level high. This is seasonal and normal flooding that we usually experience almost every year. I heard the other day that the river hasn’t been at this level since 2011. I published some images of this series on my newly minted Facebook page and will try to avoid duplicating those images here.
Many of these images are of the skyline of Louisville as seen from a soggy Falls of the Ohio State Park. Currently, in Louisville, low-lying sections of our roadways are underwater and a major downtown exit has been closed. River Road is truly in the river. The city is expecting an influx of visitors to arrive by Thursday for the start of the NCAA basketball tournament. Louisville is one of the host sites and our basketball arena is right on the river. As long as there isn’t anymore significant precipitation along the Ohio River Valley, the river should drop fairly quickly.
Light levels were dropping fast near day’s end and I used my camera phone to record these images. There was no wind and the only motion was created by a fast flowing river. I like the way the inundated trees along with their reflections create this frieze that was fun to use in framing a composition.
The Army Corps of Engineer Tainter Gates are under water. Usually, they hold the muddy Ohio River at bay exposing the world-famous fossil beds for exploration. This image captures a long train crossing over the old iron bridge. My outdoor studio where I stash my materials has long since floated away. I will need to start from scratch again, but I have done this many times before. Once the river subsides, I will be able to find new art materials to work with. Frankly, I like it when the park floods a bit. The Ohio River is so dynamic and along with the changing of the seasons provides a novel landscape every time I visit.
Now there is also a downside to all this activity. All the pent-up junk along both banks of the river is free once more to continue its journey to the Gulf of Mexico. In this image, there’s lots of plastic bottles for drinking and oil products plus the usual Styrofoam and driftwood all mixed together. The brightly colored plastic contrasts with the natural tones of the river.
This sign is up all year round, but frankly it makes the most sense to me during moments like this. Floating junk forms a line about where the dam’s wall would be.
Even though the river was high…there was also lots of signs of life. Soon it will be time for the Spring migration of birds moving north which is one of my favorite times of the year in the park. I took several images of this flock of geese. Most are Canada Geese, but the one guarding the rear is a domestic escapee. I have watched this bird with this particular flock of geese for several years now. Usually, the Canada Geese are very territorial especially towards others of their own kind. Perhaps that is the key to the domestic goose’s acceptance…he really isn’t one of them and so he’s tolerated.
Except for some selective cropping of a few images…I have done nothing else to them. In this image, I have made the geese more prominent by eliminating the water in the foreground that makes up most of the photograph. The other nice bird sighting of the day was seeing a juvenile Bald Eagle doing a fly over. Eagles are becoming more common sights along the Ohio River and several pairs have built nests fairly close to the city.
You can get a better sense for this “gentle flood” by showing a few inundated trees. Here larger pieces of driftwood have been blown or directed by currents to the Indiana side of the Ohio River. You can also see plastic junk interspersed among the wood.
The City of Louisville’s downtown section as seen from under the railroad bridge at the Falls of the Ohio. The pink rectangular building with the bluish-green highlights (second tallest building on the right) is the Humana Building. It’s architect, Michael Graves, passed away a few days a go. The Humana Building is considered one of Graves’ Post Modern masterpieces and one of the nicest buildings in our city. I remember when Humana’s founder, Wendell Cherry kept some of his art collection on view in the building that the public could tour on occasion. You might come across Roman statuary in one room and a tall Giacometti bronze in another. The art holdings were amazing. Cherry was mostly secretive about his purchases and once paid the world record for a painting at auction when he bought an early Blue period Picasso self-portrait entitled “Yo Picasso”. I believe the disclosed purchase price was just under 7 million dollars which seems like a bargain now that the record has been pushed recently to over 300 million dollars for a Gauguin painting. I could go on about that, but that is a topic for another time.
Like this guy in the foreground, I’m waiting for the river to recede before seeing what changes have been made. Many of my favorite willow trees are completely underwater. I know they get buffeted and damaged by the currents which carry lots of debris in their wake. Perhaps by this weekend it will be all right to venture out among the muddy driftwood piles? I will bring an empty collecting bag because I’m sure to find “stuff” to use for my creations. On March 22, I will be participating in a group assemblage and collage show at Galerie Hertz. I will have six different sculptures on view. I will give you a sneak peek in my next post. For now, keep your feet dry…Spring is on the way!