Eventually, the water does go back down and reveals after the fact, all the newest changes that the river has made in the park. You saw part of that in my last post with the way one favorite willow tree has been shaped by this latest event. In many places in the park, you can find logs that floated here from some potentially far away places.
Just a few weeks earlier, I posted images of Asian carp jumping over this very same spot. The walls of the dam were no obstacle then. Now the dam has been “graced” with many logs that were stranded along the top. They will stay here until the next flooding event or until something else shifts the balance.
Because this is summer and we have experienced so much rain, all the vegetation is really lush. Familiar paths are overgrown and the heat and humidity seem trapped at ground level. I am completely sweaty in no time at all. I went and checked out the green bottle piece I had made many weeks a go and it is still relatively in place. I assembled it on top of a large driftwood mound that this latest bout of high water was unable to fully reach. I can tell that the mound has shifted some and all of the bottles have settled within the upturned boat dock. Now, the entire mound is covered in vines. This makes it especially tricky to walk over. I snapped a few pictures and moved to the safety of the riverbank. There are lots of areas to explore and who knows what we shall find?
Slogging through the mud and wetness along the river’s edge, I make this amazing discovery. It’s a River coconut! I wonder what the tree that produced this hairy fruit looks like? Since much of the water that reaches us here flows from the north downward, I imagine that this is one hardy tree. I guess the coconut’s shagginess is a coping mechanism for cold winters? As we walk, there are more discoveries to be made.
Further down the riverbank I encounter this object. I am holding it as I am because initially, I thought this was an extra-large toy wristwatch minus the hands and numbers. Since I have been able to examine it more closely from the leisure of my home…I am now thinking that this is a child’s pro wrestling inspired championship belt? All the glued on rhinestones must have fallen off while the river carried it away from wherever it originated from.
Walking further west…I discover the remains of a riding toy. This is a blue plastic dolphin that came to rest in the Willow Habitat. There are more plastic items to find. Next was perhaps my favorite find of the day.
This is so small, that I’m surprised I spotted it among all the other small items both natural and artificial. It’s of course a plastic doll shoe, but this one has a nice patina acquired from being in the river for a while. I still find many dolls and doll parts, but this little doll accessory is a rare find. Unfortunately, there is also plenty of other plastic in the park that isn’t so hard to find. Here’s one such example as I found it in place.
Three plastic bottles and containers rest in a pretty disgusting looking puddle. The orange color is actually something I find occurring here naturally and may be due to some red oxide that exists below the many levels of clay and sand. Of late, I have been collecting various plastic bottles and creating other site specific pieces with them. On this particular day, I made a relatively small one due to time constraints. I have often found that it is good to have some limits with this river art. Simply, there are so many things one can work with and I have added to my vocabulary of forms and materials slowly over the years.
Like some of my previous efforts, I chose a particularly promising area that seemed to have a “wealth” of plastic bottles and containers. I then set out to find colorful examples to make an assemblage with. I like contrasting the high artificiality of these bright objects with the more subdued organic efforts of Mother Nature. The high-keyed colors are often cheery. I think that even on a subconscious level, we recognize the former products that were in these bottles even without their original labels which have washed away. From our own household experiences and uses, we are reassured by the soap that will clean our clothes or the oil that keeps our engines humming and in good condition. That’s where the tension lies in these simple assemblages…we know that this is far from the case. Since we now know that these containers and the products they once held were extracted from nature at great cost. In the aftermath of use…that cost continues as the packaging is disposed of irresponsibly. This particular artwork is heavy on the black which influences things as well. I simply found more black containers on this day and used them. After a few photographs, I picked up my collecting bags and headed home exhausted from slogging through the mud, heat, and humidity. I’ll leave this post with one more view from the Indiana side of the Ohio River. On the way home, I noticed a small flock of Canada Geese gliding past the skyline of Louisville and the river seemed at peace for the moment. Catch you later from the Falls of the Ohio.