Posted in Absurd, Art, art and environment, Art and Nature, art and the environment, Artist at Exit 0, assemblage art, Clarksville, creativity, environmental art, Falls of the Ohio, found materials, Found objects, fresh water, Installation, lost and found, material culture, nature, Ohio River flooding, Photograpy, tagged Art, art made from plastic, artist at exit 0, found materials, Fred Flintstone baby bottle, material culture, nature, photography, plastic butterfly, plastic containers, plastic rainbow, public art, recycled art, repurposed art, sense of place, site specific artworks on February 8, 2016|
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Beyond the Woodland Loop Trail in the western section of the Falls of the Ohio is where today’s river adventure finds me. It has been many months since I last visited this side of the park. I have been looking forward to walking on the driftwood that accumulates on this riverbank. As always, I’ve got my trusty walking stick and collecting bag with me. It’s time to find what there is to find and make something from that. Right away, I found this plastic butterfly or moth (fireworks perhaps?) and enjoyed taking several images of it juxtaposed with the riverbank landscape. Just a quick look around and I can see lots of plastic and polystyrene to potentially use. I will also keep my eyes open for a good site to do one of my plastic arrangements that I have been having fun with of late.
I was fairly confident that I would find as much plastic debris on this shoreline as I had found in the eastern section of the park. That would prove to be correct and I brought an extra collecting bag along to help with the gathering process. I have been enjoying organizing the colorful plastic bottles and containers that I find into mostly chromatic and rainbow-inspired arrangements. The driftwood and sand out here is unified in coloring presenting a monochromatic landscape where bright, colorful plastic notes sing out among all these lost trees. You soon realize as you sort out the plastic from the driftwood, how much of our material culture is intermixed into everything else.
After walking the high water line for a couple of hours, I dumped all the colorful plastic I had collected onto the sand. I thought I had picked a good location that was between the water and the riverbank. I picked up a nice plastic milk crate along the way to assist with the gathering. I notice that I usually pick up intact items preferring them over plastic bits and pieces…although, I will use fragments too especially if they are a hard to come by color. Most all of the plastic bottles and containers I find have had their labels washed off by the river. I put a lot of trust in the cleaning power of millions of gallons of water.
Using the patterns and intervals of driftwood that the river had previously laid down here as a supporting structure where today’s found plastic is sorted by color and staged. Here is where you might find out that you picked up more green bottles than yellow or that purple was that day’s hard to find color.
Here’s a view looking eastward with a bit of the skyline of Louisville suggested through the distant trees. From my experience, fewer people visit this section of the park and many who do often prove to be residents of Clarksville which is just over the flood wall. Let’s show a few more images of how this piece rounded into shape.
I like the big wooden beam lying parallel to the plastic. Not all the driftwood out here is of the wild variety. I find lumber cut-offs and planed planks of all kinds and have used them in my art as well. These shots were taken on a beautiful end of the month day where we had a respite from the cold and grayness.
There was one large blue plastic drum that was buried in the sand and had water in it as well. I didn’t like how it intruded into these pictures and so tried to take it away. Well, it was much too heavy for one person to life out of the sand. Fortunately, among the few people I did see on this day were old river rat friends who gave me a hand with this. The blue drum nearly folded in half takes its position at the end of the line.
I hung around and admired all the bright colors as they revealed themselves in a setting sun. I think this is the most complex plastic assemblage (as far as variety and number of individual pieces used goes) that I have made thus far. I will go ahead and tell you that this work no longer exists except as digital images. Over the past week, we had strong rain storms that went through the Ohio Valley resulting in a high river. Although the rains didn’t affect us directly, all the water that was dropped into the watershed caused it to inundate many of the familiar places on the riverbank that I like to work. The river has been unpredictable of late and I have had at least three new projects washed away. As I walked home, I did find an interesting bottle that I walked over before. I’m fairly sure this is Fred Flintstone based on the diamond pattern on his “garment”. A quick inquiry over the internet yielded some results. This find was originally part of a four plastic baby bottle set that featured Fred, Barney, and their kids Pebbles and BamBam. This vintage baby product was more than likely manufactured between 1977 and 1984! I wonder if its possible for my find to be that old? Judging from the wear and tear and severe fading…that’s a distinct possibility. Happy with my new find…I dropped it into my collecting bag. I think it is the unusual items I come across that make this such a fun way to spend time at the river. With the sun going down, the temperatures are getting cooler…time to go home. Until next time from an ever-changing Falls of the Ohio.
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Posted in Art, Artist at Exit 0, Clarksville, driftwood, Falls of the Ohio, Installation, Louisville, old refrigerator, photography, plastic, public art, repurposed materials, Styrofoam, tagged Absurd, art and nature, art and the environment, art exhibition, art process, art studio, artist at exit 0, Beach combing, blue, collecting, creative process, driftwood, flip flops, plastic bottles, plastic containers, yellow on May 4, 2015|
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April’s tale was of a high Ohio River and rain fall for the record books. Twice the river rose to flood stage before subsiding back into its muddy banks. Left in its now drying wake are trash mounds and islands of wood and debris that were pushed and floated upon the water’s surface by wind and current. In this mish mash of culture and nature I carefully pick my way over and through the debris fields at the Falls of the Ohio. All along the riverbank, the dull and muddy colored wood contrasts with the reflected light from hundreds of plastic bottles and chunks of bright white Styrofoam.
I picked a great day to visit the river. As soon as I arrived in the park, I could hear several newly arrived male Northern Orioles calling back and forth through the tall cottonwood trees. I even found several eggs. Here is a large blue plastic egg nestled in shredded tree bark and plastic bottles. I also found a muddy, but real Canada goose egg now too cool to incubate. There was an adult goose hanging out near me and I suspect some early nesters had their clutch washed away by the second flood. I decided with so much brightly colored plastic scattered all over this woody mound…I wondered if I could put any of it to use?
As you can see in this detail image…I decided to concentrate on the color yellow. I stayed within a certain area and collected all the yellow objects on this driftwood mound. It was tricky work because the footing was not good. Several times I sank to my hip as my leg would go through the loosely tangled branches, dirt, and logs.
I call this piece “Yellow Concentrate”. It consists of mostly plastic, quart-sized oil containers along with a few larger laundry detergent jugs. There are a few odd items as well. I found three rubber ducks on today’s adventure and used two of them here. I used a bowl-like depression in the driftwood as my setting to assemble and sort through the junk. I was glad to have the wooden platform in the foreground because it was also easy on the feet.
This site gave me potential for a few good views. Here is “Yellow Concentrate” with the railroad bridge in the background.
Now here’s the same piece with the skyline of the City of Louisville on the southern shore. All that massed yellow really pops you in the eye. Individually, all these yellow plastic containers barely registered scattered across the debris field, but it’s a different story when you bring them together. Feeling pretty good about yellow…I decided to next try a different color.
As I was collecting all the yellow containers…I was also sorting out the blue ones and throwing them in the driftwood bowl. On a nearby fallen, diagonally leaning tree trunk…I arranged my collection. The big blue Easter egg is near the center. As I worked on “Blue Extract”, the hole I was standing in kept getting wider and deeper.
Most of these containers are plastic oil and liquid detergent bottles, but I mixed a few aerosol cans in as well. In this line are seven plastic and rubber balls. One last project before calling it a day. I stayed in the same area and pulled aside all the lost flip-flops I encountered. I laid them all out on the white surface of a metal refrigerator that had floated in here with the last flood. It looked like the Shoe Shaman had been this way too.
The stark whiteness of the fallen refrigerator reminded me of the white pedestals that you would find in an official gallery. I organized the lost foot wear from smallest to largest, left to right. I soon left for home with a hefty collecting bag full of “river treasure” and a camera loaded with images. Every thing else was left in place. I will come back when the river level drops a little bit more and the fudge-like mud has had the chance to harden in the sun. There is still so much more to explore in the park and can see myself keeping busy for the rest of the year. Here’s one last look over the shoulder at today’s location at the Falls of the Ohio. I realized after the fact, that the found milk crate I used to move materials around was so bright red that it holds its place among the yellow and blue. Until next time!
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