Andy Warhol exhibit gives look into pop artist’s influences Monday, Sep 14 2020 

By Kyla Thomas  —

An art exhibit on pop artist Andy Warhol is on display at the Speed Art Museum until Nov. 29–and it’s free for University of Louisville students. 

Warhol is best known for his work designing the Campbell’s soup logo and his pop art of Marilyn Monroe. “Andy Warhol: Revelation” highlights a new side of Warhol’s career, focusing more on his religious pieces and the story behind not only the art, but how the art correlates to Warhol himself.

The exhibit opens with a biography of Warhol, which talks about his sexuality as a gay man and how he managed to balance that part of himself while growing up in a religious community. Plaques at the museum said that “he made a point of regularly popping into his local parish to pray even if it was only for five or ten minutes.” Although he was deeply involved in a religion that condemned his sexuality, Warhol remained openly gay, and was a fixture in New York’s Queer underground. 

Many of Warhol’s pieces on display lie in this balance too, such as his recreation of Raphael Madonna. Warhol would take religious works of art and recreate it in his own unique style, he did this with “The Last Supper,” and a portrait of Jesus as well. 


SEE: Photo Gallery of the “Andy Warhol: Revelation” exhibit by Cardinal photo editor Anthony Riley. 


Through his art he showed two sides of his identity that came together to create the person he was, and through those pieces he showed that you can be both. 

Brady Alexander, a senior English major, said he enjoyed Warhol’s embracing of contradictions within his own identity.

“I love how [the art] highlighted that you have the ability to be both, you can still be true to yourself without having to give up something that gives you faith that things can be better,” Alexander said.

The exhibit doesn’t just focus on Warhol’s personal life, it also showed his love for women. Throughout the exhibit you can find portraits of women who he saw as powerful, such his mother and Jackie Kennedy. One photo shows a mother breastfeeding, as Warhol wanted to show how women not only gave birth to everything, but they nurture everything as well.

“I took my boyfriend here as a date, because we both liked [Warhol’s] pop art that we would periodically see,” Victoria Johnson, a political science major, said. “After going through the exhibit, we saw a different side of an artist that we loved but didn’t truly know the history behind. Now that we know, it’s like we love his art even more.” 

The “Andy Warhol: Revelation” exhibit will remain at the Speed Art Museum until Nov. 29. Due to COVID-19, hours are limited to only Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. More information and tickets reservations can be made on the Speed Art Museum’s website

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

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Photo Gallery: “Andy Warhol: Revelation” exhibit at the Speed Art Museum Monday, Sep 14 2020 

 

 

 

Photos by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal

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Graphic design student combines both art and social impact in her work Monday, Mar 30 2020 

By Zoe Watkins —

For Virtual Portfolio Preview Day, a senior graphic design major shared some of her work and reflected on her journey.

Though she is from Louisville, Taylor Simone first began her college career at Arizona State University before transferring to University of Louisville. Her time at ASU was what first started her interest in graphic design.

“ASU is where I gained my love for visual communication, although I was studying film at the time,” she said. “In my first semester attending U of L, I took an intro class to graphic design and immediately switched my major.”

Simone said the reason she loves graphic design is because it combines both of her two passions, art and social impact.

“I love graphic design because I can address topics like racial injustice and be creative while doing it,” She said.

Even if her designing process varies on each of her pieces, Simone states that she loves the research aspect.

“Having a strong understanding of the content is always the first step in my design process,” Simone said.

When finding inspiration for her pieces, Simone looks in a lot of different place, but is mostly inspired by real stories and experiences.

“I am intrigued by how a design can speak to a certain emotion or an experience that we all go through. I am heavily inspired by designs that bring people together in hopes of creating dialogue and discourse.

She said that her favorite piece in her portfolio is a book called “When Words Unravel.” The book goes over the historical and cultural analysis of the n-word. Simone designed and wrote the book during her third year in a Bookforms class at U of L.

“This book is my favorite piece because it captures so many of my interests in one project. I also learned so much since I got to interview different people about their experience with this word and its history,” she said.

When asked for advice for students who are also in graphic design or considering in majoring, Simone said to take their time to absorb as much as they can.

“As a design student, you don’t need to focus in one area. Learning as much as you can about all kinds of design methods and processes is the most rewarding part about studying graphic design.” Simone states.

Photo courtesy by Alexis Simone // The Louisville Cardinal

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Two artists share their glass-blowing passion with students Saturday, Feb 29 2020 

By Aaliyah Bryant —

Dante Marioni and John Kiley led the “Sutherland Endowed Chair in Glass Lecture Series” at the Cressman Center Feb. 20.

Kiley started working with glass in 1991, and Marioni started over 40 years ago.

As experts, they have to take safety precautions such as wearing protective eyewear and not touching hot materials since the melted sand that makes the glass is at a high temperature.

Kiley mentioned that he is inspired by a spherical shape while Marioni is inspired by pattern. They both agreed they could combine the two to make beautiful artwork. With both men creating such wonderful pieces and the amount of people that were there at this event, their art is known and loved by many others.

At this event, Kiley and Marioni made their collaborative piece and a couple of wineglasses. Ché Rhodes from the Art Department explained the process.

Rhodes said they use a long pole called a blowpipe. They then add the melted sand material at the end of the blowpipe and spin it around to make it more even.

Rhodes said to make it larger they would either add more material or blow the blowpipe. To make the glass colorful they start off with a base of clear glass, then add a colored glass on top of it followed by another layer of clear glass.

He said the patterns they made on the glass is made from a large metal clamp. They would rub the clamp across the spherical glass or clamp the edges. There is another piece of glass that holds the piece on the end of the sphere.

Marioni and Kiley then detach that part and add another on the other end of the sphere. This is because they can’t manipulate and heat both ends of the sphere at the same time.

As Marioni and Kiley made their glasses the desired size, they kept the melted glass hot so they could fuse the two spheres together. The end result was a spherical masterpiece.

They made the wine glasses next, using basically the same process but shorter.

Most pieces are made from the base up as it is easier. To make a pattern on a wine glass, Marioni and Kiley stick the not-so fully formed glass in a cup with patterns engraved in them.

As they made the wine glasses, they added a ceramic brick material to make the glass less sticky. They fused the two parts together to make a wine glass.

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

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Revelry boutique holds their annual “Cuteopia” art show Tuesday, Feb 4 2020 

By Madelynn Bland–

Valentine’s Day, which often includes giving and receiving gifts from lovers and friends, has once again crept up and caught us by surprise. As usual, all there is to find at any chain store are teddy bears and generic chocolates.

While these are perfectly adequate gifts, some of us are in search of that amazingly unique gift meant to knock the socks off of our loved ones.

This year, there is some luck. 

On Feb. 8, Revelry Boutique Gallery and Mama Tried Tattoos will be presenting the 8th annual “Cuteopia” art show. Not only is this show a great way to support local artists, but it will feature some of the most unique Valentine’s gifts you’ll ever find. 

Native Louisville artists made all the featured art.

Some of the artists featured include University of Louisville graduates Anna Erwin, Monica Stewart, Irene Mudd and Jenna White. These former art students have now turned their passion into their work.

Erwin said, “I have actually been an employee with Revelry Gallery for four years now, even while still taking classes at U of L. This extra involvement in Louisville’s art scene elevated my education by learning from my artist co-workers and local artists on a face to face basis on how to make my art sellable in a commercial gallery.”

The show is proud to feature many different types of art that really stands out against the usual Valentine’s gifts. Some of the art already previewed includes a portrait of Leonardo Dicaprio by Susan Howe,  pressed flowers by Gritty Pearl and create your own conversation heart earrings.

An array of art mediums will be showcased, from earrings, paintings, ceramics and even underwear. The gifts purchased here are sure to be nothing short of unexpected.  

Owner of Revelry Boutique Gallery Mo Mcknight Howe, said, “Handmade gifts are more meaningful than something more mass produced. I think people love to receive a gift that was made by hand with love put into it.” 

The event is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Revelry Boutique Gallery on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m.

Photo by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal

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The Speed Art Museum stayed busy over winter-break Wednesday, Jan 8 2020 

By Zoe Watkins —

Though many buildings on campus closed over winter break, a few still operated during those weeks.

The Speed Art Museum’s usual After Hours at the Speed happened Dec. 13. This event takes place on the third Friday of every month where the museum stays open until 10 p.m. During these hours, guests get to explore their permanent collection along with visiting exhibitions.

However, the fun part of the night belongs to the ranging music with the many unique performances. Guests can also dine on food provided by the Wiltshire Café.

Each After Hours at the Speed is unique in its own way with the next one being Jan. 17.

Admission is 20 dollars though U of L students get in for free.

One of their regular workshops, “Adult Workshop Back to Basics: Gold Leafing,” took place on Dec. 14. Participants learned about the process of art restoration and learned how to use faux gold-leaf with different techniques. People either got to bring a small wooden object from home to work with or create a new golden picture frame.

Besides workshops, there have also been a few films that passed through the cinema. A major one that left Dec. 29 was the 21st Annual Animation Show of Shows. Various students and professionals from around the world showcased their animated short films. “The Fox and the Bird” by Sam and Fred Guillaume and “Kids” by Michael Frei and Mario von Rickenbach were two of the short films.

The exhibition “Loose Nuts: Bert Hurley’s West End Story” features the work of Louisville native and African-American artist Bert Hurley.  It primarily focuses on her novella “Loose Nuts: A Rapsody in Brown” which contains over 125 pages that are colorfully illustrated and handwritten, covering a range of media from crayon to ink wash.

Another exhibition is “Tales from the Turf: The Kentucky Horse” which holds many differing paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints and manuscripts from all different creators. It tells the story of the relationship between the horse and Kentucky that is often seen throughout the state from its identity to the bluegrass state’s historical roots.

There is still more to come to the Speed where pieces from famous painter Andy Warhol will be present in the exhibition “Andy Warhol: Revelation” that will be coming April 3.  It will focus on Warhol’s relationship with his catholic faith and how it has been mixed in with his artwork.  The 100 pieces that come from the collection at The Andy Warhol Museum will be staying at the museum until August 21.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Coal for Christmas…2018 Comes to an End Monday, Dec 31 2018 

Coal Barges trapped against the dam at the Falls of the Ohio State Park

Runaway coal barges on the upstream side of the dam at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

What a poor excuse for a blogger I have turned out to be!  Just my second post of what has been an extremely active year which, however, is not ending on positive notes!  Just in from the news room…2018 was Louisville’s wettest year on record.  We are just over 69 inches (it is pouring now as I write this) of rain for the year breaking a record created in 2011.

That’s not that long ago and welcome to the new norm.  When I started my Artist at Exit 0 River Project, I was partly curious if could I “witness” climate change within the relatively small confines of this well understood park situated in my own backyard?  Certainly, the increased levels of precipitation over time point to this.  The Ohio River during 2018 had high water moments and February set a new all-time record for rainfall for that month.  The river had high water moments during July, September, and December a couple of times.  We have had monsoon-like storms that literally have dumped billions of gallons of water on our area.  Almost everything dealing with the weather is becoming an event.  The city is digging out a couple of massive stone catch basins for all the excessive rain water that overwhelms our sewer system with some of these storms.

The disaster currently playing out breaks my heart.  On Christmas day we all got coal for presents.  An upstream tow pushing 15 barges loaded with coal broke loose hitting our Second Street Bridge.  Of course, the river was way up and at least six of the barges have sunk releasing by a current estimate about 9000 tons of coal into the river!  There are still barges trapped against the dam (see above photo) This is an ongoing, unresolved situation and even more coal could end up in the water.  I will stop here with this, but 2019 will begin this way.

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Final Styro-figure group of 2018.

This is an image of my last figurative group of 2018.  The river has knocked them down now, but parts of them haven’t completely drifted away.  After the loss of my first absurd Styrofoam group of the year, subsequent high water events and vandalism prevented this from going much farther.  Much of the second half of 2018 was taken up in maintaining my various “plastic gardens” scattered throughout the park and skirting around encroaching waters.  This, however, has always been my main site which is easy to access and plentiful in terms of found materials.  At this site, I continued working with found flip-flops creating double spiral designs and meandering patterns dug into the sand.  I continued working with found cigarette lighters which remains this year’s medium for me.  I have estimated that I have picked up at least 800 spent cigarette lighters this year alone!  I continued to create and maintain other plastic assemblages from debris found in the park.  I have worked with found balls, soft drink bottles with questionable contents, and aluminum can bottoms which are the only part of the aluminum can that survives the river here and yes I have worked with coal too.  Rather than tell you…here are a few images to show you.

Found plastic assemblage in the western section of the park nestled in the root system of this wonderful tree.

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Found plastic assemblage created on site in the eastern section of the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Found plastic assemble with purple jack-o-lantern in the western section of the Falls of the Ohio.

Last look at this plastic assemblage set up in the western section of the park. High water eventually took this piece down.

Double Spiral Found Flip-flop Arrangement

Found flip-flops were used to create this double spiral design.

Meandering pattern made with found flip-flops.

This piece eventually incorporated over 160 found flip-flops picked up in the park. Wiped out in early December.

Found Flip-flop piece at my outdoor atelier at the Falls of the Ohio

Final flip-flop piece before the river rearranged my studio site during late December.

Found cigarette lighters on a great pine stump.

A great pine stump was the site for this found lighter project.

Found lighter piece in discarded tire

Lots of sunken tires out here and they make good micro sites for projects.

Meandering found cigarette lighter design on found mattress

This mattress came in with the river and makes a good site for these found lighters.

Sunken tire and found soft drink bottle with contents piece

Found soft drink bottles with contents set in a discarded tire.

Found soft drink bottle with contents piece.

The colors come from sport and other soft drinks in their plastic bottles.

I also did my share of smaller figurative pieces.  Here is a favorite that originally was a slow motion video shot with my iPhone.  I started to play around a bit more with video by offering small video “tastes” of some of the things I do to amuse myself at the river.

My bird observations have manifested themselves in found objects that have become their own creative ornithology.  Here are a couple recent favorite sightings of these very rare birds.

Butcher Beak looking for food

A high Ohio River has this Butcher Beak searching for food near the water’s edge.

Black-tailed Tern

On Sand Island by the Falls of the Ohio, I spotted this rare Black-tailed Tern in migration.

Young male, Violet-tailed Bowerbird

A 2018 highlight was coming across this Violet-tailed Bower bird finding river treasure for its bower.

I realize that I can’t post everything I made this year, but here were a few of the projects  that still resonate with me.  I will keep making art and seeing where life goes from here.  I hope we all have a great 2019!  I will be watching with interest what happens with our coal spill.  I have already tested out a few ideas.  See you next year from the Falls of the Ohio.

Coal Man

From this Summer…a coal man formed in a drift of coal dust and gravel.

Death Takes a Float Trip

Welcome to 2018…Artist at Exit 0! Wednesday, Jul 4 2018 

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I will admit to being shocked to see that this is indeed my first post of the year on the old riverblog!  My only excuses are that I’ve prioritized my time to be in the field as much as possible and much of what I’ve documented has also appeared on other social media outlets.  I am very appreciative for those who continue to visit the riverblog and I will try to be more regular with my reports.  Here is our story thus far.  The new year began well enough and we had our first snow in January.  The Styro-sculpture group I had dubbed the “The Re-Assembled” had survived all kinds of abuse and managed to hang on and grow.

The "Re-Assembled" in the Snow. Jan 13, 2018

The little high spot on the riverbank that I call my outdoor gallery and atelier under the willows was looking good.  Naturally, we expect to see some minor high water issues in the park during late winter and early spring as snow melt throughout the extensive Ohio River Valley watershed moves downriver.  I continued to visit the park when I could and made new figures and projects from materials I had collected and recycled many times before.  Our area and the Ohio River were soon to experience a big change and naturally my driftwood atelier would be in the way.  Here is the last image I have of “The Re-Assembled” intact among other projects before the Ohio River eventually claimed them all through flooding events that happened from mid February through April.  The first flood of 2018 would be one for the record books, but it was quickly followed by two more minor high water moments that continued to rearrange the landscape under the old railroad bridge.

Outdoor studio view with the last of the "Re-Assembled" Styrofigure group with plastic assemblage and flip-flop pit.  Falls of the Ohio State Park

After all you see here was swept away…and then swept away again.  I continued to skirt around the wide margins of the river documenting my river finds and adding to my various found object collections.  Here is a little taste of the high water we experienced from the observation deck of the Interpretive Center.  At my site, I watched the river move up the bank ever so quietly.  I marked the water’s advance with little sticks in the sand just to keep an eye on things.

As the river rose and then receded, I kept filling my collecting bags with materials and my camera with images.  It’s funny how each high water moment seems to bring its own kind of debris.  Among the found objects and materials I sifted from the sand and driftwood included hundreds of cigarette lighters ( I have removed more than 500 of them this year) and lost flip-flops.  Here is a good sampling of some of those projects that I made with those river finds.

Found cigarette lighter oval on washed up picnic table with Louisville in the distance.

The above image is that day’s found lighters arranged on a picnic table that washed into Ashland Park which is contiguous to the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  The skyline of Louisville, KY is seen from across the Ohio River.  Here is another lighter piece arrangement at my ever shifting outdoor studio.

That day's found lighters arranged by color on a wooden beam that washed up in the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  2018

This lighter arrangement on the wooden beam proved tempting for someone who needed all these lighters because they all disappeared.  One more lighter project before moving on to flip-flop projects.  I know, that sounds real tempting!!

Found lighter spiral arrangement on a stump, Falls of the Ohio State Park. 2018

Simple but colorful design created on a found stump using brightly colored plastic lighters collected on that day’s adventure.  As this year has developed, I have looked more upon creating images utilizing these micro sites.

Improvised found flip-flop piece on wood panel on a high Ohio River with Louisville in the distance.  2018

The river is still very high for this found flip-flop arrangement.  I am also continuing to enjoy using these lost sandals as a stand-in for our kind.  So much can be implied through the idea of a foot print.

Found wooden john-boat with flip-flop arrangement, Falls of the Ohio, April 2018

Detail, Found Flip-flops in Found Wooden John-boat, Falls of the Ohio, April 2018

We had another flooding moment in late April which again changed the character of my outdoor studio and the area around the old railroad bridge.  In its aftermath, an immense and impressive mound of driftwood and other river debris has been left behind.  My old site is history and both the UFO (Unidentified Floating Object) and the recent john-boat project were affected.  It’s only been since May that a sense of the routine, seasonal environment at the Falls of the Ohio State Park has begun to settle in.  I’ve compressed a lot in this post and it breaks my heart to leave anything out, but that seems to be the way to go here.  As the debris mound begins to settle and new junk works its way out, I will continue to show up and document what I find and how I used it.  From the Falls of the Ohio…the Artist at Exit 0.

Styro-figure with Bullhorn with Meandering Found Lighter Arrangement, Falls of the Ohio, April 2018

2018 Ohio River Flood covering the fossil beds at Falls of the Ohio State Park.

River Report at the End of the Year Friday, Dec 29 2017 

Artist at Exit 0 site the day after Christmas 2017

It’s the day after Christmas at the Falls of the Ohio on an admittedly nippy day.  I stopped by my trusty site under the now bare willow trees to see how this latest group of sculptures and artworks are faring? Each time I come out here, I’m just as likely to find things knocked down and destroyed.  A couple of posts back, I documented my site and the figures that were created there beginning in May of this year.  I initially called the Styro-figures “The Assembled” and after they were vandalized they became “The Re-Assembled”.  Well, even this group is now history after every standing figure was decapitated and speared!  Here are some before and after images.  I used this final image of “The Re-Assembled” with the peace sign on my Christmas cards this year.

Final View of "The Re-Assembled" with Flip-Flop Peace Sign, at the Falls of the Ohio, early Dec. 2017

"The Re-Assembled" decapitated and impaled, Dec. 2017

Every head was destroyed and that is where much of the personality of each figure resides.  I gathered what remained of the heads and bodies and added them to the pile.  I picked up what loose fishing floats that I had adapted for eyes and other plastic parts I used that were still in the area and placed them in my collecting bag.  The found flip-flop peace sign was obliterated.  It wasn’t up a week yet!  Interestingly, the colorful plastic container arrangement I have on site has survived three attacks!  It has essentially remained intact with me adding to it every once in a while.

Scrambled found flip-flop peace sign at the Falls of the Ohio, Dec. 2017

Of course we can’t leave things there!  I visited my site in early December with Jason Moore, an art student at Murray State University who came to my presentation there last October.  He was in town on winter break and asked to tag along. Together, we started the process of straightening things up and beginning some new pieces.  I put him in charge of the flip-flop pit which was a very new medium for him.  The only guidance I gave him was that he needed to use every sandal on site!  He had one false attempt before arranging the flip-flops in this design.

Jason Moore, first attempt at a flip-flop design at the Falls of the Ohio, Dec. 2017

Jason Moore with his found flip-flop design at the Falls of the Ohio.  Dec. 2017

As Jason tries his hand at this site specific piece, I set to work on creating what turned out to be an imposing figure that towers over you on site.  After pairing a new head with a new body I began creating this figure’s features.  As I’m doing this…I’m also aware that I am now re-re-reusing many of these materials.  Some of this stuff has played a part in multiple figures.

A new head begins, Falls of the Ohio, Dec. 2017

This is where a new work begins.  I searched through my collecting bag looking for the found components to make up the eyes, mouth, nose, and ears.  I then find a stick to attach the head to the body and then look for driftwood, tree roots, etc…to make the limbs.  Here is how the head eventually presented.

Detail of my new figure's head, Falls of the Ohio, Dec. 2017

I thought the toe thong “thingie” from an old flip-flop made a decent mustache!  Let’s pull back a little to take a wider look at things.  This image shows the new figure dramatically illuminated as the sun sets.

New Styro-figures just before the Winter Solstice, Falls of the Ohio, Dec. 2017

Jason created the small figure with the plastic squirrel and I added the round-headed, portly figure.  Another week later I would add a fourth this time blue-bodied figure to bring us to the present.

Styro-skulls on the polystyrene pile, Falls of the Ohio, Dec. 2017

It has been a very interesting year and as it ends it’s good to reflect a bit.  Perhaps creatively… this has been one of my better years.  I think the work overall has taken on a more formal look as I continue to work with different materials.  I’m out here as often as I can get away.  A big change is in using other social media platforms to “publish” what I’m doing which was something I once reserved exclusively for this blog.  I’m on Facebook and Instagram regularly which has been a fun way to share pictures.  I’ve had a couple of exhibition opportunities this year which was great and unexpected.   I’m even ending the year and this post…with some very positive press which also serendipitously came my way.

Here is a link to a lot of content that the News and Tribune, a southern Indiana newspaper, put together about my Falls of the Ohio Project.  Albertus Gorman News and Tribune Article  This link has a video shot at the Falls of the Ohio as I demonstrate what I do.

I will leave it here for this year and hope that everyone out in the wider world has a very Happy New Year.  See you at the river during 2018.

 

 

 

2017 Favorite Wildlife Sightings from the Falls of the Ohio Sunday, Dec 24 2017 

What a year it has been for animal watching at the Falls of the Ohio.  The finite landscape at the park keeps continuing to change as the populations of Canada geese and white-tailed deer make their now daily presence felt.  I recall going years before finding a single deer track out here.  Not too long ago as I was working on an artwork in the sand…I was surprised by a doe and two nearly grown fawns that almost stepped on me in their hurry to escape their blunder!  Seeing deer out here has almost become a daily happening.  I’ve also seen several large bucks and managed a good photo of this regal specimen from earlier in the year.

Although some animals seem to be increasing…there are still the occasional rare and once in a lifetime encounters that can occur.  Moments like this are what keep me coming back to these shores and willow woods.  Recently, a red fox streaked across my path and while not a rare mammal was nevertheless a park first for me!  I have also been discovered by an assortment of raccoons, groundhogs, opossums, squirrels, and chipmunks as I bumble through their environment.  Still only two beaver sightings by me since 2003 and none this year.  Evidence of their presence here is everywhere, however, they seem to be the most active at night.  Now my next entry qualifies as a true event and I will linger on this a moment since I was also fortunate to take some nice images to enhance the tale.  Have you ever heard of a Clark’s shrewrat before?  Probably not, no offense, I presume here, but we have trouble remembering our own kind much less anything else alive we share the experience of life with.  Seeing one was my wildlife viewing moment of the year.  Let’s start by looking at one.

It was almost Halloween, a gorgeous late autumn day when hiking in the park, I glimpsed an unfamiliar mammal drinking from a pool of Ohio River water.  In size, it’s between a small house cat and a large squirrel if that helps at all?  As it warily moved around the muddy landscape it moved quickly and stayed very low to the ground.  I was able to observe it over the course of the next few hours and I’m positive it knew I was nearby.  It’s history is interesting.  Clark’s Shrewrat is named after William Clark who is believed to have supplied the first written descriptions and specimens early in the 19th century.  Clark, the brother of Revolutionary War hero General George Rogers Clark went on to his own renown as a leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  What was unclear was whether or not the shrewrat evidence was collected on that epic journey or was of more local origin?  Finding one here is important because it would suggest the latter since Clark’s Shrewrat was never common anywhere over its former range and very rarely seen now.  To date, we have no idea as to their numbers?  Are they more common than we think or on the verge of extinction?

Clark’s Shrewrat belongs to the Insectivorous order of mammals which also includes moles and shrews.  It is strictly carnivorous and will attempt to overwhelm any animal it thinks it can kill.  The bulk of its diet, however, seems to be birds, other small mammals, fish, insects, and is not averse to scavenging carrion.  As a hunter, it is stealthy and overwhelms with surprise and speed.  For prey larger than itself, it often first tires and wounds its victim before administering the coup-de-grace with a surgical bite to the throat.  It is relentless and will pursue fish underwater in otter-like fashion as I was able to observe.  Here it is just before enjoying a shad dinner!

Many years ago, I had two sightings of a mink that hung around for a couple of days.  Experiencing the shrewrat felt similar.  A frenetic, nervous animal in constant motion and ever guided forward by a hunger that it cannot satisfy.  It does seem to be at the mercy of its metabolism.  The few records that exist on its life span seem to suggest a short one of three or four years at most.  Since there is simply not enough information extent on this rarity…it seems the obvious next step is to continue to monitor whether Clark’s shrewrat is indeed becoming established in the park?  I hope so since the park needs to maintain as much diversity as possible.

Now, to talk about a few of the great birds I’ve seen over the year.  I won’t go into as much depth.  Here are a few of my avian highlights with accompanying imagery.  It does seem to becoming more common for uncommon birds to show up at the Falls of the Ohio.  Is this a potential signal that climate change could be at work?  Birds can appear almost anywhere and many do…however, it does seem that many long distance migrants are being challenged by habitat loss and important food items whose timing has been interrupted by a climate in transition.  Nothing like showing up at the usual time for a feast of horseshoe crab eggs, but their spawn happened a week ago and you still have thousands of miles to travel.

This inquisitive creature is called the Bark Bird and I happened to see one this summer.  It’s so named for its habit of searching through the crevices in tree bark as it searches for the small arthropods that make up its diet.  It often goes up and down the tree head first like nuthatches do.

The only true shorebird on this list is the Arctic Curlew.  It uses its long, blue bill to probe soft mud for small worms.  I chanced upon one in June while exploring the fossil beds.  This is an example of a bird that is at risk because the route of its migration is so long that maintaining suitable habitat along its route may prove too great a challenge.

Here’s another migrant, the Land Lark.  Usually, a bird recorded west of the Mississippi River.  I remember that this bird appeared at the Falls of the Ohio after some serious thunderstorms with damaging tornadoes  passed through the Midwest of the United States.  Simple but nice coloring with its green crest and bill and light blue wings against a snow-white body.

This lovely Yellow-tailed Thrush was another unexpected discovery.  Normally, found in the summer in the Hill Country of Texas…I’m not sure why it showed up here?  I was sure glad to see it and I have several other nice images of it.

A new park record…the first recorded instance of the Ohio Valley Blue-bill nesting with park confines.  I came across this bird sitting on its nest which I was shocked to see was an old barge cable that had snagged in a tree.  I think the blue-bill formed the nest by judicious pecking and pruning the fibers of this large rope.  I’ve saved my favorite bird for last.  Not because it is rare, but because the pictures came out so well!  Here is another the Blue-winged Merganser which is small, fish-eating duck that pursues its prey underwater like the shrewrat does.  Also like the shrewrat, this merganser has a bill full of needle-sharp teeth for holding onto slippery fish.

The crest of feathers atop it head give a regal appearance to this small red-eyed duck.  We often see the Common Merganser around here, but this was fun to observe as it pursued small aquatic life stranded in the pools of a retreating river.  I guess as this year may prove to demonstrate, we may see many more peculiarities in the natural world the more we mess with it.  I will continue to record and observe these changes within the park and post them in the trusty riverblog.  To finally end, one more image of Clark’s Shrewrat to savor!  Until next time from the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

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