Posted in Absurd, Art, art and environment, Art and Nature, art and the environment, Artist at Exit 0, assemblage art, collections, driftwood, environmental art, Falls of the Ohio, flip-flops, found materials, Found objects, lost and found, lost sandals, Louisville, material culture, nature photography, Ohio River flooding, plastic, recycled art, repurposed art, repurposed materials, sense of place, Site specific art, watershed, tagged Art, art and the environment, artist at exit 0, Falls of the Ohio, flip-flops, flotsam and jetsam, found objects, Genius loci, nature, Ohio River, photography, plastic bottles, plastic color spectrum, plastic pollution, sense of place, spirit of a place, walking along the riverbank on March 13, 2016|
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The river has finally given us a reprieve from the high waters of the past month. I got an early start from my home in Louisville and crossed the Second Street Bridge on my way to the Falls of the Ohio. Today, I decided to do something a little different and wandered the eastern bank of the Ohio River on the Indiana side which technically is not in the Falls of the Ohio State Park proper. I just kept walking and walking and had no trouble filling my collecting bags with potential art materials. Overall, it would turn out to be a good day and I managed a couple of modest projects which are the subject of this post.
I walked as far east as I could without feeling like I was wandering onto private property. I figured if someone were to challenge me, they probably wouldn’t object to me picking up the plastic and river-polished Styrofoam that soon filled up my bags. As it turned out, I didn’t encounter a person all day long. It could be that hiking along a muddy riverbank isn’t most people’s cup of tea, but that’s just speculation on my part! I did come to one spot that afforded a nice view of Louisville’s skyline. To take these pictures, I stood in what was once a creek that originally fed into the river. That must have been some time ago, however, because the view behind me is somewhat industrial. Now it’s a spot where the water backs up when the river is high. Everywhere I wandered I found lots of junk mixed into a driftwood and ground up tree bark matrix. Here are a few of the items I found that were a bit more interesting.
Here is a picture of miniature plastic river corn poking out among the woody debris. There’s something about finding plastic plants out here that still provokes me. I picked this corny cluster up and into the collecting bag it went to ultimately join the other fake food items that I have assembled over the years.
And now for a toy figure that probably represents a disk jockey character complete with over sized jewelry and a microphone. I don’t recognize this character and it occurs to me that I’m now hopelessly out of synch with cartoon popular culture. My sense is that programs come and go so quickly now that the plastic crap these shows spawn far exceeds the actual life of the shows themselves.
Moving closer to the railroad bridge that I like to work around…I found this realistic toy lion. I think this is an example of how you can develop “a six sense” for finding stuff, because this lion was the same color as the wood chips and debris it was mixed into. Stuff that is neon colored like many plastic items are makes them relatively hard to miss. Let me show you what I mean.
Here’s my latest color spectrum arrangement made from found plastic. I gathered these components up along my walk on the riverbank just east of the park. I found a place that was relatively sheltered by the wind that had just picked up after my arrival. Today, I found a bit more purple than I usually come across.
Most of the plastic items in this assemblage are bottles of various sorts. This time, I did add a few “humorous” toy finds like the plastic frog and rubber duck wearing sun glasses. Since I still had a few hours to devote to today’s walk…I decided to venture further west and into the park to see what changes the river had made and to make one other piece I had in mind.
After filling my bag up with plastic bottles, I then switched to collecting lost flip-flops. In a relatively short amount of time I had picked up enough of these cheap sandals of varying sizes, colors, and designs to make something with. Since this is spring and we certainly have had our share of rain…it stands to reason that flowers would soon follow. I began my arrangement by taking the larger flip-flops and using them as the base. Gradually, I worked towards the center overlaying and stacking the smaller sandals that a child would wear. The result was something that I called a “Chrysanthemum” in my plastic-addled brain.
I did enjoy having a little bit more of the riverbank to explore than I have had this past month. We still have lots of potential for rain and high water. I think on my next trip out here I will explore what the high river has deposited in the western section of the park. I wonder if my ball collection is still around or did that eventually get reclaimed by the river? I guess I will need to wait until next weekend to find out. For now, here is one last image from this trip out at the 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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Posted in Art, Falls of the Ohio, First Saturday in May, Kentucky Derby, Louisville, material culture, Photograpy, plastic, toy horses, tagged Absurd, Art, art and nature, art and the environment, art process, artistatexit0, Beach combing, collection on May 1, 2015|
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It’s the last week of April, which means the first Saturday in May is a few days away. In Louisville, that signals the world’s most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, will be run. This edition is the 141st Kentucky Derby, which culminates in two weeks worth of Derby Festival parties and celebrations. Over the years, I have had occasion to find, photograph, and sometimes keep the horse related toys that I come across in the aftermath of flooding at the Falls of the Ohio. Following is a small album of river rejects. I start with this image and though it is not a Pegasus (The Pegasus Parade is the oldest Derby Festival event) it is somewhat horse-like. It appears to be a flying unicorn and has a mane and tail you could probably comb at one time.
I found this fragment in the western section of the park partially buried in the sand. At one time this was a riding toy that had a wooden handle going through the head and was kid powered.
I found this pink beauty tangled in the driftwood. These ponies that have hair that can be brushed must be popular…
…or not,…because here’s another one pulled out of the debris field! I believe this unfortunate pony also had cockle burrs tangled up in its mane.
This small yellow plastic horse was probably put out to “pasture” because it can’t run anymore. It looks like either some one or some thing chewed off its right hind leg.
This tiny horse was found upside down. It’s missing the green plastic base it once stood on. Fine droplets of rain begin to wet the sand on the day I came across this find. My friend, Bernie from Vermont, gave me the idea for this post. He needed a horse image for a story he had written and asked if I had any in my river archive. This was one of the ones I sent him. I have one last horse to show and it is a piece I photographed in place last weekend. I hope everyone out there has a great Kentucky Derby and may your horse win, place, or show…from the Falls of the Ohio.
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