Theories abound on disappearance of bees Thursday, Jun 20 2013
A New Figure for a New Day Sunday, May 5 2013
Absurd and Art and art and environment and art process and artist at exit 0 and creativity and earth and Environment and environmental art and Falls of the Ohio and found objects and Nature and Photography and public art and recycled art and river and sculpture and sense of place and Styrofoam 2:22 pm
After watching the goldfinches in the willows and collecting the latest the river had to offer…I headed to my outdoor studio. I have the day off from my day job and it is also Kentucky Derby weekend. The weatherman is telling me that today will be the day to be outdoors because a cold, wet front is coming through the Ohio Valley. It has been a few weeks since I last visited as life has taken me in other directions. When I was last at this spot, I stashed the surviving and repaired “Flood Brother” next to a tree. In the interim, other people have come across my spot and looked through the junk I’ve assembled here. As for my Styro-figure…I found what was left of him nearby. Here’s a look at the remains.
I found his body first resting upon the older driftwood. He was missing his head and arms. Scouting around, I was able to find bits and pieces including his head staring at the world through his remaining cyclops eye.
Rather than reconstruct him for a third time, I decided to recycle him. I gathered the pieces and parts and hauled it back to my studio. For now, I will let these chunks of polystyrene rest.
The first step in creating some sense of order is to straighten out the mess my previous visitors have left me. I sort through my sticks that I will use for potential arms and legs. I gather up the smaller pieces of Styrofoam and put them in the river-chewed milk crate. I rummage through my collecting bag and select the elements that will make up the face of a new character. I take a few moments to watch robins chasing a young Cooper’s Hawk through the willow trees. Near me, I hear the first notes from a Northern or Baltimore Oriole. It’s reassuring to know that they have returned. Also, there is a noticeable increase in insect life and I’ve observed bumble bees, hornets, and small butterflies going about their business. The sound of running water is always in the background. Picking up a head-shaped piece of Styrofoam I begin to form a new figure.
So far, it’s a smiling figure with a segment of pliable found plastic for a mouth. The ears and nose are also plastic toy pieces. The eyes are river-tumbled pebbles of coal. I use my pocket knife to do this work. The next step is to add a body.
I chose a hunk of Styrofoam from my larder that seemed torso-like. Feeling that it required additional detail, I added two walnuts to reinforce the chest idea. I further added a third piece of Styrofoam that simulates a pelvis and gives the figure added length. Some internal sense for proportion told me I needed to do this even though the entire idea and the resulting figure strikes me as being absurd and who else would notice or even care about this? Beaver-gnawed willow rods connect the head and hips to the torso. Over the years, my working methods have evolved and I definitely have material and form preferences where none existed at the start of this project in 2003. Through trial and error I selected wooden driftwood arms and legs to give my static figure some life, energy, and a suggestion of movement. Here is the first photograph of this spring figure made in the place it was created. Later, the two of us would go out to explore the landscape around the Falls of the Ohio State Park.
Tree Trevails Saturday, Apr 20 2013
Absurd and Art and art and environment and artistatexit 0 and creativity and driftwood and earth and ecosytem and Environment and environmental art and Falls of the Ohio and Flooding and found materials and Green and Louisville, Kentucky and Nature and nature photography and Ohio River and Photography and recycled art and recyled art and repurposed art and sculpture and site specific art and Styrofoam and trees and watershed 12:33 pm
It’s Thunder Over Louisville weekend which means the largest fireworks extravaganza in North America will happen tonight. This is the kickoff event for the Kentucky Derby Festival which culminates in the horse race itself on the first Saturday in May. The festival is a two-week event and while fun for residents and visitors…can also be an obstacle course if you are trying to get around town. I like using the bridge on 2nd Street to get to the Falls of the Ohio State Park, but it is shut down and being used for the fireworks display. At its height, Thunder Over Louisville (which also includes an air show) has drawn 800,000 people to the banks of the Ohio River on a single day. I’m hoping to access the river and the park tomorrow. For the moment, I have images to post from my last visit. Looking through the pictures, it occurred to me that I had captured moments in the lives of individual trees that I would like to share. The area continues to green up and many trees are producing their pollen. For allergy sufferers, this is an especially difficult time. If I was affected by seasonal allergies…I doubt I could do this project. There is something about being in the bottom of the Ohio Valley that seems to bring out the worst for those allergic to various molds and pollen.
I started this adventure on the Woodland Loop Trial near the Interpretive Center. The path eventually leads to a small creek that at the moment has a tremendous amount of driftwood lining the contours of its banks. All this wood was deposited here by the Ohio River swollen from winter rain and snow melt all along the length and breath of the river valley. More high water could eventually carry all this wood back out into the river for parts unknown. Still, this represents a lot of trees. I have this idea in my head that as a result of climate change, we have all this extra water and energy in our weather systems? Where does the water from retreating glaciers and Arctic melting go? I’m guessing that some of it is evaporated out of the oceans and into a warming atmosphere where it influences the global weather patterns? This excess water eventually precipitates out causing more severe weather events including flooding. This increases riverbank erosion and tree loss. Is there a limit on how much water the atmosphere can absorb? Of course development along the rivers takes its share of trees too. The cumulative effect of many actions continues to shape the environment.
These exposed tree roots are something that I’m noticing more of at the Falls of the Ohio. I’m assuming that frequent high water causes this? This isn’t necessarily fatal and these trees can survive as long as the riverbank stays in place. In addition to more water…an increase in storm related wind velocity has also been noticeable over the years. We have had a lot of trees simply blow over and be lost in this manner. Continuing to walk westward in the park, I can see that my favorite cottonwood tree continues to be developed as a party hang-out.
I posted on this wonderful cottonwood tree not too long a go and remarked on how it was once again becoming a focal point for parties. The fire pits are larger and there are more beer bottles and cans around this tree than before. I’ll bet this place is especially magical illuminated by camp fires. Plus, more found wood has been used to hide a large silvery sheet of corrugated plastic to impart a more naturalistic appearance. From inside and under the tree, you can see in the distance part of the downtown skyline of Louisville which will be filled with fireworks tonight. Over the years, this tree has been discovered by different generations of folks and continues to hang in there. I hope this will always be the case. The next big flood will eventually wash all the additions away as it has done before.
Here’s an image that demonstrates how high the river can rise. This snagged pallet has been hanging out on this tree branch for a couple of years now. Trees can demonstrate some resilience in the face of adversity. I know of a couple of trees at the Falls that have made use of improvised “planters”.
Cast off tires are a ubiquitous element of river-born trash. Somehow this willow tree has found a sheltering toehold in this wheel. I’m curious to learn whether this tree can continue to grow and survive in what is ultimately a restrictive space? On this walk, I also came across this unusual juxtaposition and thought it might fit in this post too.
This may be as near as I come to having a tree suggest that it could do laundry too! The surface root of an old willow tree has caught this old jacket. The last high water floated this plastic laundry basket into this area and it settled next to the root. This is not your average still life. The gravel in the photo was deposited here by the last of the retreating ice age glaciers.
To conclude this post…as I was walking along the loop side of the trail, I spotted a piece of Styrofoam in a ditch. Retrieving it I discovered one of my previous sculptures from several months a go. I originally included him in a story that featured sauger fishermen. Except for a missing nose, the sculpture was complete. I was surprised that it survived intact going on several months now. Looking through my collecting bag…I replaced the lost nose with another piece of found plastic and set him up to greet visitors along the trail. Here’s a final picture showing him next to a tree that the wind blew down last year. Thanks for hanging out with me for the past thousand words. Have a great weekend!
King Coal claims "Chandler and Yarmuth Actively Support Destroying Kentucky Coal Jobs" Thursday, Apr 21 2011
KY Congressmen support legislation designed to obliterate surface miningOuch!
Congressmen Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth of Kentucky have both signed on as supporters of the Clean Water Protection Act introduced by Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Dave Reichert (R-WA). The legislation as written would destroy Kentucky coal jobs and bring to an end surface mining operations throughout Eastern and Western Kentucky.
"The sweeping effects proposed in Pallone's Bill would seriously damage Kentucky coal jobs and Kentucky's economy...." said Phil Osborne, Executive Director of Kentucky FACES of Coal. "Kentucky needs jobs; we don't need our congressman supporting legislation that destroys jobs."
"This legislation is bad for the country and bad for Kentucky, it's distressing when two of our elected Members of Congress choose to ignore that fact," Osborne continued. "Legislation like this is wrong in spirit, it's wrong in science and it's wrong for Kentucky. Given his ultra liberal, anti-job stance on most issues I'm not terribly shocked by Mr. Yarmuth's support of the Bill but I really thought Cong. Chandler knew better or cared more."
Pallone's press release is here if you want to subject yourself to dirty lies and bunk science, like:
Numerous health problems associated with exposure to these chemicals and heavy metals in fill material include cancer, organ failure and learning disabilities.Just disgusting, isn't it?
It will be interesting to see how this seething broadside by Mr. Osborne and King Coal will affect Chandler's recent spate of anti-environment, pro-Coal votes.
The RNC is already targeting Chandler's seat for 2012 so Chandler's been confounding all observers in a bizarre attempt to cover his bases, railing on about "this out of control EPA" and their crazy idea that coal ash is somehow "toxic," among other things [seen here, here, here, here, and here to name a few].
In the process, he's obviously alienated Democratic rank-and-file and now he's managed to also enrage the Coal lobby.
With Chandler's support for this bill and his recent votes to protect Planned Parenthood and Health Care reform, you can't blame Osborne or yourself for wondering if, in fact, Ben Chandler does know better and care more.
So is Ben turning a new leaf or is King Coal just giving him a friendly slap on the wrist? Or is he plotting a course toward a Mitch throwdown?
Ben Chandler issues statement on his EPA letter Wednesday, Apr 20 2011
And now, Quiet Ben gives us his explanation for the letter. From Phillip Bailey at WFPL:
“We absolutely must protect our clean air and water, which is why I have strongly supported legislation to protect Kentucky’s natural resources throughout my time in Congress. I believe Congress—not just federal bureaucrats in Washington—should have a say in these changes significantly affecting our states, our people, and our small towns.”Ah, so Ben Chandler wants John Boehner and Joe Barton to determine how much businesses can pollute, not the EPA. Roger. You know Joe Barton, right?
And when Ben says "I have strongly supported legislation to protect Kentucky’s natural resources throughout my time in Congress", I guess we'll just not count the past year, eh? After all, it's not like anyone's paying attention.
And in extremely related news, here's Steve Beshear's lovely Earth Day message to the Commonwealth from last week, if you missed it.
When is this going to change, Kentucky Democrats? Fed up yet?
Ben Chandler writes letter to EPA, tells them to get off our backs Wednesday, Apr 20 2011
U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Member Jeff Landry (Republican, LA-03) and 169 fellow Members of Congress have written to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, in opposition to the agencies' attempt to evade the proper regulatory process in order to dramatically expand the Clean Water Act. This letter follows the Corps and EPA sending the "Clean Water Protection Guidance" to the Office of Management and Budget for regulatory review.Yes, Ben Chandler signed the letter.
"The President and his unelected bureaucrats are once again attempting to change the rules as the game is being played to ram their radical agenda down the throats of the American people," said Landry. "By the Corps and EPA' own admission, their ‘Guidance' will substantively change federal policy and significantly increase the scope of the federal government's reach to regulate waters."
"I was elected to shrink the government and make it more efficient," continued Landry. "My letter today calls for the President and his Administration to end their de facto ‘land grab,' through the Clean Water Act. My fight for our farmers and job-creators will continue until the Corps and EPA work with our local elected officials and business leaders to ensure proper, transparent and effective rule-making."
Get off our backs, Nobama!
Herald-Leader looks at the Lexington-Louisville Commuter Rail Saturday, Apr 16 2011
Environment 10:36 am
As Tharp envisions it, the Thoroughbred Rail Link would have two sets of trains: one starting from Louisville and heading east, the other starting west from Winchester. The trains would travel existing tracks owned by CSX Corp., the nation's third-largest freight railroad by revenue. A large portion of the rail is leased to R.J. Corman Railroad Group of Nicholasville for movement of freight.There's much more, from the logistics to the obstacles to the skeptics.
Unlike commuters traveling alone in their cars, train passengers could read the paper, do work on their laptops and chat with fellow riders. Tharp said a private vendor could sell "coffee in the morning, bourbon in the evening."
Each locomotive could run on liquid natural gas, and each would pull four bi-level cars, each holding 150 passengers, for a total capacity of 600. Tharp thinks some passengers might want to take bicycles along so they could reach their final destination.
These would not be high-speed bullet trains streaking across the Bluegrass. But with improvements to the existing track, the speed might approach 69 mph, significantly faster than the 10 to 40 mph that freight trains travel.
It's an uphill battle and it may not be feasible in the end, but the Mayors of the various towns involved should at least consider and explore not just the possibilities of this train plan, but consider it in larger terms of our transportation infrastructure going into the very near future.
Also, if you're in Louisville and want to hear more Ralph Tharp will be giving his presentation on April 18th at the Elaine Chao Auditorium.
Herald-Leader Editorial Slams Coal Shill Thursday, Apr 14 2011
In 2009, when he cast a crucial vote for combating climate change, U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler said: "When I cast this vote, I thought about my children, their future and the duty all of us have to protect God's creation."While the editorial board certainly took it easy on poor Ben Chandler, they did do him a rather nasty disservice, at once making their Democratic readership aware of Ben's environmental trespasses and King Coal apologetics... and reminding their Republican readership of Ben's past support for Cap & Trade.
Last week, Chandler must have been thinking only of his political future and the slim 647-vote margin that kept him in Congress last November. The Democrat from Versailles knuckled under to the coal industry — and to the inundation of unlimited political money with which the Supreme Court now allows special interests to hammer pols who show too much integrity.
Only time will tell whether his latest stance will mollify the coal industry or whether he'll pay a price by losing the support of green groups and voters who will no longer view him as a defender of the environment.
In doing that, the Board gave what looks like a tough warning to Ben -- shape up, or we'll hit harder.
And they could have.
After all, the H-L Editorial only mentions Ben's most recent vote to cripple the EPA.
They let the Congressman off the hook for his attack on the Clean Air Act and they politely ignored Chandler's vote to defund the EPA's Toxic Coal Ash Regulations.
Let's hope Ben takes their cue and shapes up. Or, let's hope the dream scenario shakes out and Ben decides to take on Old Man McConnell.
4/18 @ UofL: Louisville to Lexington on Passenger Rail Wednesday, Apr 13 2011
Environment 8:00 am
Ralph Tharp, executive director of Kentucky Capital Development Corporation in Frankfort, is championing a new passenger rail service linking Louisville, Lexington, and nine other stops. Trains would run at commute hours, and combine the speed of driving with the superior comfort, safety and economy of rail.Sponsored by CART, the event will be held at:
More information: Riding the Train - State-Journal.com
University of Louisville
You can RSVP at the Facebook event page.
(But we're pretty sure you non-facebookers can just show up.)
And who knows, maybe Elaine and Mitch will drop by to lend their support to... no. No, they probably won't.
Beshear gets a first-hand look at the orange water of King Coal Monday, Apr 11 2011
Here's what that looks like:
Here's a portion of the release where Kentuckians pleaded with Steve Beshear to fight on the side of the residents and not the out-of-state coal companies, and Beshear says that he'll "take their concerns under consideration":
Weigand pointed out to the governor that the streams he visited were a few of thousands that have been impacted by mining throughout the region. “What you’re seeing here is just one example of a much larger problem. It’s happening all over,” she said.I'd love to know how Beshear answered "what you saw up there in Floyd County today, would you consider that balanced just right?"
Handshoe added, “Governor, this is a people issue; it’s a human rights issue. Our groundwater around here was contaminated by deep mining a long time ago. You just can’t allow our surface waters to be destroyed too.”
Later that afternoon, Governor Beshear and Secretary Peters attended a meeting hosted by KFTC members in the Harlan County community of Lynch. Residents shared ideas for economic development and a sound future for their area, and asked the Governor to block two proposed surface mine permits that now threaten their drinking water and quality of life.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” shared Carl Shoupe, a retired third generation coal miner from nearby Benham, Kentucky. “This is a special place with an important history. We have good, pure water that flows out off Black mountain. With a lot of work by a lot of people, we’ve built up some fine tourism sites, like the School House Inn and Portal 31 exhibition coal mine. But all of those things could be lost if the state allows these strip mines to go forward.”
Stanley Sturgill, a resident of Lynch and retired coal miner and federal mine inspector, thanked the governor for his time and asked him to take a stand. “Will you declare your support for designating key areas around Benham and Lynch as ‘Lands Unsuitable for Mining,’ and will direct your Energy and Environment Cabinet to revisit and reverse their recent ruling on this matter?” Sturgill questioned. The Governor responded that his administration would carefully review all permits and “take the concerns we’ve heard today under consideration.”
Governor Beshear later stated, “I’m convinced that if we are smart and enforce our regulations, we can mine coal and protect the environment. It’s something we have to balance.”
To which Sturgill countered, “Governor, what you saw up there in Floyd County today, would you consider that balanced just right?”
Reflecting on the day, KFTC member Doug Doerrfeld noted, “I’m thankful that Governor and Secretary Peters came and listened. This is just a first step, and it’s good that he agreed to meet with us again soon. There are many issues left to be resolved. The whole conversation needs to go much deeper, and we need to see concrete action.”
It should be noted that at no point during his visit did Steve Beshear scream at anyone to get off his back:
Put up or shut up, Steve.