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Archive for October, 2015

Large, plastic Jack-o-lantern decoration, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

My images have been chosen and I’m writing quickly to create this Halloween-themed post before the big day arrives in our country.  Meaning I have until tomorrow to post this if I want this story to be relevant to the day at all!  2015 was a very good year for finding Halloween related junk at the Falls of the Ohio.  Some of this stuff I’ve saved into a small collection and the rest of my discoveries are preserved digitally.  I have long since moved from the position that I need to save every physical object that I come across.  Most of the time, having the picture is good enough.

Upside down, plastic jack-o-lantern, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

The two bouts of flooding that we had during the Spring washed all manner of goodies into the park.  It was an especially good year for plastic jack-o-lanterns.  These common objects are essentially a plastic bowl for receiving and holding trick or treat candy.  Naturally, real jack-o-lanterns are carved and hollowed out pumpkins that are illuminated from within often using candle power.  I’m always surprised by the variety of plastic jack-o-lanterns that I have come across.  This example was photographed as I encountered it…upside down and laying on top of the sand.

Destroyed plastic jack-o-lantern at the Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Here’s one that was crushed by the flood and some passerby hooked it onto a branched log.  Here’s another plastic jack-o-lantern deposited by the river, but this one is much smaller.

Small, plastic jack-o-lantern bottle laying in the driftwood, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Over the years, I have found many Halloween novelties including other containers for holding the precious bounty of candy.  The jack-o-lantern form, however, is overwhelmingly the most popular.  This year, I did find two different forms.  Here is one that is the head from an unlucky black cat!

Plastic black cat head candy carrier, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Now for a black plastic witch’s cooking pot that I nearly overlooked resting in the driftwood.  The witch is dancing in silhouette next to her fire.

Black plastic witch's cauldron candy carrier, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

I even came across the remains of a mask.  Costumes are a big part of Halloween and I don’t find many of them at the Falls.  This one was pretty muddy, but after cleaning it up a bit…I saw that it was a devil’s mask made from a soft foam.

Foam devil mask, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Okay, let’s look at a couple of shots of assembled river finds.  This one has a variety of different character references.

Various plastic toy novelties, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

This shot has a little bit of everything including vampire teeth, Shrek, Frankenstein’s head, a skull, a witch’s head, and a couple of scarecrows that also have a Halloween connotation.

Three different plastic owl bottles, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Owls also are iconic to Halloween.  Here I offer three found plastic bottles in the shape of owls.  The big red one was found in 2015 and the other two are earlier.

Falls of the Ohio Jack-o-lantern Collection, 2015

Most of these are associated with candy novelties, but not all.  I put this collection together at home when I noticed I had so many jack-o-lanterns in my various collecting bags.

Halloween-themed chap stick?, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Can’t say until now that there is actually a Halloween-themed chap stick that you can purchase.  I am not likely to run across many of these along the riverbank.

Expressive face, plastic jack-o-lantern, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

I threw this guy into here because I like how expressive his face is.  Some of that is due to the dark river patina it has acquired being in the water for a while.  No doubt, I will keep running into this stuff at the Falls of the Ohio and I will try to document and or collect as I go along.  One last image from this year…earlier I was doing site specific assemblages using found colorful plastic elements.  Here is a detail of one piece I made and look who is taking pride of place?  Happy Halloween everybody…be safe and have fun.  See you in November!

Orange plastic jack-o-lantern with other river found objects, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

 

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Skyline of Louisville as seen from the Falls of the Ohio State Park, Oct. 2015

That big summer rush is over now.  The Interpretive Center panel is finished and this past Saturday, I picked up all the works I had on display at Eastern Kentucky University.  I now have no other plans for my art which feels good for a change.  I like staying busy, but don’t want to be so on the go that I don’t enjoy what I do.  Art is one of those things we eat greedily until it time to move over to the next course.  The process of creating and displaying new works has become such a consumptive activity on its own and it’s funny that I don’t hear more artists talking about the good and bad aspects of this.  With this officially being Autumn, I went looking for traces of color at the Falls of the Ohio.

found snow globe or dome, Falls of the Ohio, Oct. 2015

I showed up under the old railroad bridge with a mostly empty collecting bag.  At this time of year, it isn’t so much the interesting objects that just floated in here with the latest flood, but rather the interesting items that have come to the surface after all this driftwood started to break down.  As proof, I offer this recently discovered snow globe or dome.  It’s too hard to see from my image, but there is a winter holiday scene inside the dome!  It will be cold soon enough and Christmas as well.  I’m all set with this little decoration that still has bits and pieces of fake snow inside.

Green Bottles, Falls of the Ohio, October 2015

Today I have no plan other than to wander.  As luck would have it, I revisited an area that I haven’t checked out in the past 2 1/2 months.  One of my favorite pieces I made this year involves setting up green plastic bottles inside an old boat dock that was deposited on top of the driftwood pile and that happens to be in this spot.  When I was here last, the vines had pretty much ensnared and intertwined with all this wood and made walking a bit treacherous.  All the greenery from those vines is now history, but the woody stems are still a tripping hazard.  Coming across my piece from earlier in the year…I decided to reconstruct it as best I could.  All the bottles were still here and the light was looking especially good.

Green Bottle piece at the Falls of the Ohio, October 2015

Under the wooden dock are four compartments that I filled with the bottles.  They can only be seen from this side and so this piece has evaded detection for the most part because it is not visible from the path that skirts the periphery of this driftwood mound.  I just happen to like how the light gets concentrated within these green plastic bottles and activates the work in just the right conditions.  The wooden compartments add a little structure to what would be generally be thought of as a chaotic composition.

Green Bottles, Falls of the Ohio, October 2015

Although we still have plenty of “green” in the environment.  You can also see where “yellowing” is happening with the foliage.  I expect as the season wears on and transitions to another that this Green Bottle piece will subtly change over time.

found flip-flops, Falls of the Ohio, Oct. 2015

Walking over the mound, I came across an area that was completely obscured by vines a few weeks a go.  What I uncovered in place was a series of found flip flop sandals I had parked here until a better idea showed up.  For now, I record the lightweight shoes and move on.  It might be transformed into something different the next time I pass this way.

Green Bottles in Autumn, Falls of the Ohio, October 2015

The cottonwood trees that flank part of this driftwood mound are much “yellower” than before.  When I first came out here during the month of May, everything around me was verdant and dark green.  After setting this piece up again for the second time, I turned and walked away and cleared my head by walking to the riverbank.  I will periodically stop by here and maybe after a few months will be able to create a series of images documenting this site specific assemblage as it changes with the seasons.  For now, I will check out if the fishermen are having any luck…at the Falls of the Ohio.

Fishing at the exposed fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio, Oct. 2015

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Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center panel, early October 2015

Although I could have gone on making this panel richer and richer, at a certain point, you need to call this piece finished.  Solid Light, Inc., the Louisville-based exhibit design team responsible for the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center’s renovation wanted to have everything in place by October.  Officially, the center won’t open to the public until January 2016, however, the center wants to do a series of trial runs to see how well the new exhibits will work with school groups under the center’s educational staff.  I worked pretty feverishly at my friend Tom’s large studio to get this panel realized before needing to turn it over to the designers.  Also compelling me was the need to undertake a personal trip to Florida with my family to visit my ailing mother.  Mom is getting better, but it’s just not life anymore if there aren’t many balls being juggled in the air simultaneously!  I had more than enough found objects and river materials to get the job done.  If anything, I may have had too many things to choose from!  For this post, I thought I would share images of the panel in progress as well as some detail shots of its surface.  The fun of this piece is looking up close to see the variety of objects both natural and artificial that have been fixed into place.

 

 

Falls panel at Tom's studio, Sept. 2015

I tried several arrangements before settling on something that I thought would work.  Central in all my compositions was the use of an old marine cable and the fragment from the side of a discarded set of wooden steps.  The design team wanted a look that seemed to suggest that the objects and materials I was going to use had just washed up upon this place.  Having something that appeared casual and spontaneous, but also composed was a big challenge.  My own formalist tendencies wanted to work within a tighter composition, but I relaxed that by doing several dry run layouts before I nailed or glued anything in place.  Of course, there is fantasy operating in the finished panel too because no where at the Falls of the Ohio have I ever encountered this much concentrated stuff in such a small area.

Falls Panel in progress, Sept. 2015

Another step that I realized was prudent before attaching stuff was painting my wood panel.  I went for a mottled brown and gray background that resembled mulch and dried leaves.  I think I did a good job of covering the surface and only in places can you see through to the wood panel below.

Panel painting, Sept. 2015

painted background for Falls panel, Sept. 2015

I was really proud of myself!  I only dipped my painting brush into my coffee once!  Once the surface was dry, I began by attaching the nylon cable around the panel first.  I used a borrowed nail gun hooked up to an air compressor to do this.  In fact, where possible, I used the nail gun as much as I could.  I also used screws and a variety of adhesives (depending upon the material being glued) to attach items to the board.  Working with polystyrene and various plastics can be tricky because certain compounds will eat and dissolve these materials.

Items being attached to the Falls panel, Sept. 2015

I worried that my barge cable might make the panel look too much like the decor you see in seafood restaurants, but I think I managed to barely escape that impression.  After the cable, I attached the wooden steps and glued the larger pieces of Styrofoam into place.  I had other limitations that I haven’t mentioned yet, but this is as good a place as any to say what those were.  First, nothing could project off of the surface any higher than 3.5 to 3.75 inches!  The panel would need to be able to slide into a case that is 4 inches deep.  Another concern was keeping a clean 3/4″ open wood margin along the entire outer edge of the panel.  This would assist in sliding the panel into its case.  Apparently, after the above shot, I didn’t take any more in process photos because I was too busy making the thing!  Here’s a pretty close to finished view of the panel.  I worked on this panel horizontally, but did tip it up to see it as others will see it and to find out if anything would fall off the surface?  Fortunately, everything pretty much stayed in place.

Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center Panel, October 2015

There is a whole list of things you can find on this panel.  On the base level, it is a good mix of the driftwood, polystyrene, glass, coal, aluminum, and other plastics found in the Ohio River.  Here are a few details to give you a better look.

Detail of Falls Panel, Oct. 2015

Broken flamingo, Falls Panel, Oct. 2015

Detail, Hammer and Halloween, Falls Panel, Oct. 2015

Detail of Falls Panel, Oct. 2015

Small doll on Falls Panel, Oct. 2015

Plastic Indian on Falls Panel, Oct. 2015

Coyote skull in Falls Panel, Oct. 2015

Some of the items on the panel like the coyote skull …I’ve had for many years while other pieces like the plastic Native American came to light a month a go.  I had to include at least one doll in this assemblage because outside of toy balls…dolls are the most frequently found toy I come across at the Falls of the Ohio.  I sprinkled in enough polished coal, walnuts, and mussel shells to keep it lively.  I’m looking forward to seeing all the finished displays sometime soon.  I’m sure this panel will look completely different in its case and in the context of the other exhibits.  Looking forward to getting back outside to the river sometime soon.  I still have a trip to Richmond, KY on the schedule to pick up my art that I have on display there .  For now, I will content myself with this picture taken in the park several weeks a go.  Thanks for dropping by!

View from the Falls of the Ohio State Park, Sept. 2015

 

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