Hot, sticky, and the humidity had me sweating the moment I entered the park. Today’s outing seemed more like an extreme sport than an attempt at art making. I decided to focus my efforts in the western section of the Falls of the Ohio State Park. I knew the recent flooding we had experienced would more than likely deposit a lot of junk and debris along the driftwood cluttered shoreline. I was right about that, but first I had to “earn it”. To access the shoreline in this area of the park required going over, under, and around large trees that had either blown over by high winds or were undermined by the soil being washed away from the riverbank.
One thing I noticed being in this section of the park…was that all the purple loosestrife seemed to be gone. Normally, one can expect to find a whole host of butterfly and other insect species sipping nectar from the colorful flowers. On this expedition, I did not see one bloom from this admittedly invasive species. I think the Ohio River’s recent bouts of high water must have affected them? I find this somewhat unusual since I associate them with growing in very damp areas. Perhaps in their case, too much of a good thing is actually a bad thing? I will do some research to see if my hunch is true. Regardless of no purple loosestrife, there were plenty of vines to snag and trip over making the footing tricky…as if the soft mud and irregular surfaces of the driftwood weren’t enough of a challenge!
With the hot sun beating on me, I faithfully search the riverbank and collected the colorful discarded items that were first “gifted” to the river and then to me. Walking from one promising area to another…I found enough plastic junk to make my next site specific piece. Here’s another look at some of the objects that I found on this day.
The really bright and colorful plastic objects virtually scream at you when you bother to pay attention. Otherwise, it’s all just part of the material crap we create and dispose of indiscriminately. Maybe because I’m looking for this kind of thing…I see it more easily. I’ve trained my eye to spot the unnatural colors mixed among the gray and brown tones of the driftwood. I decided to set up a display in a particularly promising area between two debris fields that was also close to the river. I looked around and gathered some old milled boards and set them up on short, cut logs and before long had a table-like altar to lay my plastic treasures upon. Following are several looks at the completed work.
Here’s a view from behind the piece. You can see other bottles and junk mixed into the driftwood in the foreground. I set this piece up on an area of cracked and drying river mud.
Now a view from the front. I placed this work here to take advantage of the sunlight which was beginning to set in the late afternoon. I also wanted the verdant darkness behind all the colors to help create greater contrast. There are three tiers of boards that I used for this display. As is usual, I found less of some colors and more of others. In this instance, I could have used a few more orange plastic objects, but just one small plastic bottle was all I found this time.
In the late afternoon, all the various colors in this plastic are energized by the sun’s electromagnetic spectrum which causes this junk to glow. It’s the “golden hour” and one of my favorite times of day for its ability to infuse and unify the everyday with magic. I have stayed out on the river far longer than I first anticipated. The gnats and mosquitoes have had their way with me. Plus all my granola bars for energy have been consumed and my water ran out a couple of hours a go.
I’m fading fast and still have a long hike to make. All the obstacles that were there on the way in will also be there on the way out of the park. I took one last look back at my most recent project and decide that it is the best I can do at this particular moment. I’m calling this one, the “Park West Petrochemical Rainbow” so I can remember what section of the park I visited when I assembled this piece. I picked up my collecting bag and walking stick and made sure I wasn’t leaving something I might need behind me. The rest is one foot in front of the other. I let the fading beauty of the light distract me from my discomforts. Food, water, and a nice shower are waiting for me at the end of the line. See you later from the Falls of the Ohio State Park.