051817: Respite

These headboards make for a very nice composition – but, unfortunately, not enough of a distraction for me from the events of the day. In times like these I turn to my fossils for respite. Nearly four hundred million years separate us and yet their mere existence gives me comfort and hope for the future.

Our current crises can overwhelm us as the latest wave of news hits before we have even digested the previous abomination du jour. The venality, the lies, the greed and underhandedness we are witnessing rise to the fore when we all grow too complacent.

What we all need to do is act up. Phone calls don’t cost anything anymore. Call your representatives – daily – it takes only a few minutes to express your concerns.

Be a pain in the ass. Let the politicians know that you are watching and, yes, your vote needs to be earned!

For now, let’s take a break and enjoy the images.

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Break’s over! Listen to Rep. Maxine Waters and get mad. Grab the phone and let your representative or senator know your feelings. If they are fighting the good fight then praise them and thank them. If they are getting in the way or too afraid to act then chastise them.

Better days are ahead. But only if we act now!

051117: The Small Stuff

Between the packing and unpacking and the resettling in a new place I have many different objects in plain view in my studio. That, and discoveries in my various “stacks,” all help in providing me with fresh visual stimulation.

That seems perfectly appropriate at this point in time. So this week I decided to take the time to explore some of the “small stuff” that I have carted off to yet another destination.

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These two guys were hidden away for a long time and I was happy to see them again. I think I’ll keep them out for a while. By the way, the top image is picture of Flash Gordon sitting at a perfectly cool console! And below is a rediscovered self portrait from 1992.

Thanks for the visit today. And remember the Open House on Saturday the 20th, 1-5pm, 15 Mountain Wood Road, Catskill.

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Today a postscript: Important Stuff

We got word this morning at the last minute that our congressman John Faso was planning a visit to the Catskill Senior Center and have lunch with some of the members. This is the same John Faso who has voted to take away funding to the many programs that help fund such activities. This is the same John Faso who refuses to meet in open session with his constituents. Approximately fifty or so of us local residents showed up, I suppose, to just let him know that we are here and he may not be come the next election. His car pulled up to the front door and hurried in. Later this young assistant drove their car around to the back of the building right next to the rear door to make his escape! A real Profile in Courage!

030917: Science in America 2017

The know-nothings have won… for now. The soon to be neutered (or dissolved) EPA now no longer refers to “science” on its website. Rather than refer to “science based” standards they now refer to “economically and technologically achievable standards” for their actions. (The new head of EPA, Scott Pruitt, darling of frackers, just today stated that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming!)

The know-nothings have also set their sights on NASA, an agency that has “played a leading role in researching climate change and educating the public about it.” The plan is to cut funding for “Earth Science” and anything related to “global warming.”

An then there’s Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State and former head of Exxon, and friend of Vladimir Putin. If they are able to get sanctions lifted on Russia the Exxon-Rosfeft joint venture will proceed – a 500 billion dollar deal for oil exploration in the Arctic.

 

The list goes on and on. Whether it is the National Park Service or NOAA or many other government agencies, it is clear that the Trump Administration is at war with science and knowledge. Call your members of Congress and let them know your concerns. They need your vote to keep their jobs. Let them know that.

Today’s images are some random fossil images I couldn’t resist taking as I transported my collection to my new soon-to-be-completed studio. The transition is moving slowly but steadily and I look forward to returning to my work without interruption.

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I finish today with a couple of images unrelated to the fossils – one an odd outdoor vignette from a neighbor’s property and the other from my endless supply of props (soon to be packed).

Thanks for the visit.

011917: The Fog

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Several days of fog allowed for these opening images. There is a deepening and long lasting fog setting in that will require a sharpening of the senses. It starts tomorrow. All I can say is “Eyes wide open.” Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors.

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I continue to move my seemingly endless piles of fossil rocks to the location of my new studio. And, in doing so, the only thing that slows me down is rediscovering so many worthy subjects for exploration.

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I set these pieces aside to provide some fresh fossil images for this week’s post.

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My thanks to the folks at the GCCA Gallery in Catskill for putting on a wonderful show last Saturday. It looked great and was well attended. For those who were unable to attend I include here the remaining three pieces that I contributed.

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Thanks for the visit.

060216: Coral

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Ever since I first began photographing fossils I always particularly enjoyed finding coral fossils. Locally, they are generally 385 million years old (give or take a few million).

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The Chazy Reef on Isle La Motte, where I’ll be showing next month, is the oldest known fossil reef in the world at 480 to 500 million years old. They have been around for quite a while.

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Today I’ve put together a variety of various coral fossil images, some of my earliest, and all of fossils found locally.

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Coral has been on my mind ever since I read yesterday’s newsfeed and found this:

MORE THAN A THIRD OF THE CORAL IS DEAD IN PARTS OF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF.

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The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet. And 93% of it has been affected by a “massive bleaching “ event. Follow the links for more on the subject.

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Put briefly, the rise in ocean temperatures causes the bleaching. As the water continues to warm over time the coral grows ever more fragile and dies off on a massive scale.

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By the way, for month after month now, each new month sets the record for all time highest global temperature.

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Coral reefs are huge biodiverse ecosystems. They are being affected by ocean acidification brought on by increased carbon dioxide emissions.

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The carnival barker/con man Donald Trump thinks that more coal is the answer to our problems. Oil pipelines too.

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A reminder to any and all:

The Geology of the Devonian

Opening Reception June 4, 3-5 pm

Erpf Gallery, Rt. 28, Arkville NY

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Thanks for the visit.

1119: As Thanksgiving Approaches

 

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Like most sane people around the world, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the events in Paris last Friday. Shocked and saddened but not surprised. Having lived in Manhattan during the September 11th attack and its long aftermath, almost nothing seems to surprise me any more. Let me please tell you, though, that I am far less fearful of foreign terrorists than I am of our own homegrown variety. And by that, I’m not referring to those disaffected young men, usually white, who shoot up movie theaters and classrooms (thinking of them as “troubled mentally”and not as “terrorists.”). Nor am I even referring to the Christian zealot abortion clinic bombers or a whole host of malcontents that peppers the American landscape.

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No, those I fear most are the politicians and a sycophantic press who indulge in an orgy of fear mongering. They twist reality to fit their own self interests. And these days the odor of fear and the chickenhawks’ drumbeat for more war fills the air, or, rather, the airwaves.

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– Haven’t we been here before? “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” Wasn’t that Dick Cheney’s mantra (while he simultaneously made millions for Halliburton as hundreds of thousands died)?

-Now we have the likes of tough talking human embarrassment Chris Christie, who wants us to be fearful of three year old Syrian orphans. I’m sure he sees that as a winning position to garner the attention of the troglodyte base of his party to boost his standing in the polls.

-Now we have the leading Republican presidential candidate, the carnival barker Donald Trump, stating most eloquently and “presidentially”, that “I’ll bomb the shit out of all of them.” And the “Take Back Our Country” crowd growls with delight.

-Now we have the supposed “smart” Bush brother, Jeb!, along with the idiot incarnate, Ted Cruz, say Christian refugees would be welcome, but not the others. “Others” in this case refer to non christians, I suppose. So, to my Jewish friends, atheist friends and non-believers of all stripes, you have no place in the America of the 21st Century.

– Then, of course, we have the NRA, Faustian owners of the souls of much of Congress, who insist that people on the Terrorist Watch List are entitled to buy and own automatic weapons because they have constitutional rights too.

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Etc., etc., etc.

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Just remember the words of Sinclair Lewis who said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Fascism lingers on our doorstep, waiting for that door to fly open. That’s what we should be worried about.

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When you sit down to dinner next Thursday, give thanks for all that you have and all that you are fortunate enough to share with family and loved ones. Think for a moment of the luck of your birth, in this great and fine country of ours. Then think of the sixty million human beings on our planet who are currently displaced. They only want the same that we do, what any human being wants. And then think of the proverb “There but for the grace of God go I.” You could just as easily have been one of them.

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Three years ago, this past week, Cindy and I were in Paris for a show I was in during Paris Photo Week. The image above was a quirky favorite of mine taken in Paris’s Pantheon. It shows the shadow of Voltaire quietly watching over his tomb. I think often of his exhortation to “tend one’s own garden.” Mine, fortunately, is filled with evidence of the history of life on this planet, of which we are a small part.

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Since I usually post on Thursdays I’ll be taking a break next week. So let me offer my best wishes to you and yours for a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

0219: Space

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When I first set eyes on this structure I saw it as a true monument – with a primal, “Stonehenge” sort of presence – one that spoke to the significant steps we, as a species, took heading off into space. These two images are from a story I shot years ago (pre-digital) at the Kennedy Space Center: The first is a cannibalized gantry and the other an outbuilding from which some of the earliest manned space flights originated. The condition of these abandoned buildings reflect the reality of America’s current lack of substantial involvement in space (and all the tangential discoveries lost as well).

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What brought that to mind was a notice I saw the other day about a large photography auction From the Earth to the Moon: Vintage NASA Photographs . Hundreds of wonderful prints, many never seen publicly, show the brilliance of the achievement.

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I pulled these two images from the downloadable PDF, a treasure trove for anyone interested, with descriptions accompanying each print in the auction. And while I marveled at the events they gave witness to I felt a bit of nostalgia. Perhaps nostalgic for a time when science was respected and accepted for its role and value in a culture. And for the pursuit of knowledge. All for the greater good.

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I’ve written before about the anti-science crowd, the cheaply transparent “I’m not a scientist but…” politicians, et al. And I hate to belabor it. But these are some of the same people who, as we saw last week with current leader of the pack presidential contender, Scott Walker, can’t quite say if he believes in evolution! (This is the same Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, who plans to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state education funds.) There are consequences when zealots and charlatans gain hold of the reins of power.

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They might even question the age of these fossils I wish to share with you today – all Devonian marine invertebrates approximately 387 million years old. Its a strange and interesting world we earthlings inhabit! Enjoy it and enjoy this invertebrate mix.

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Thanks for the visit.

SciFi and Science

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I’ve always been a bit of a sci-fi fan – growing up reading Tom Swift, watching with excitement all the early rockets blast off or blow up in the Sputnik Era. The thought of adventure and exploration beyond the bounds of Earth just mede my head spin! Unfortunately, any reading time now for me is usually art or science related. The thought of fiction just seemed too luxurious a way to spend time – at least until now.

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What an escape I have found in RED MARS by Kim Stanley Robinson – the perfect solution for me on those dreary sunless days of winter! Part One of a trilogy, RED MARS chronicles the first settlement on Mars. It’s a great story, well researched, filled with technological wonders, aesthetic and environmental concerns, etc. No surprise I’m enjoying it, given all the wonderful extended descriptions of the geology and landscape.

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Did you know that many scientists today, particularly the younger ones, were influenced into their career paths thanks to science fiction that dared to challenge young minds? There are plenty of “closet” trekkies at NASA, I am sure.

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I read the news today, oh boy. It was announced that climate change denier Sen. Ted Cruz has been appointed to lead the Senate Space, Science and Competitiveness subcommittee. As professor Michio Kaku said,”It’s like having the fox guard the chicken coop.” And while Cruz will make inspired speeches about space flight, keep in mind that one of NASA’s most important roles is to look back at our planet, keeping an eye on climate change. I wonder where the budgets will be cut?

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At the same time Senator Marco “I’m not a scientist but…” Rubio was named chair of the subcommittee on Oceans,Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

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And, of course, there is Senator James Inhofe, who believes climate change is a “hoax,” has now taken over as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee (which oversees the EPA)

Bill Moyers has an excellent rundown on what the last election has wrought. Take a look:

http://billmoyers.com/2014/10/28/gop-takes-senate-climate-change-deniers-will-control-key-committees/

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This handful of images shows the variety of appearances made by brachiopods – all from the same site, all the same age. Of the thousands of brachiopod types these are but a few.

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Last is part of a gastropod, just for a little change. These particular fossils  are roughly 385 million years old. And, as species, they lasted millions and millions of years. I oftentimes wonder how it will work out for us.

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One final note. A thanks to all of you who visit this site. I have always been more concerned about turning out something worthy of your time, rather than engaging in publicizing the blog. So I was gratified to see the annual data info WordPress sent recently that showed a very nice jump in viewership – a 33% increase in 2014 over the previous year – 8800 unique visits from 69 countries.

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Thank you again for this visit.

0130: More Design

IMG_7549_01a_LR_10Museum of Comparative Anatomy, Paris

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I continue to pour through my libraries, finding new and interesting ways to group various images. One topic that I simply cannot ignore is the amazing opportunity provided by fossils and rocks – capturing the designs in Nature never cease to amaze me. I have put together this selection of images that, I think, is a good example of this thought.

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IMG_0303_01a_LR_10Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven

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IMG_2306_01c_LR_10Crinoid Ossicles, Chazy Reef, Vermont

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This next group of five images are plant fossils from Schoharie Creek, ranging from one to three feet across.

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These last four are representative of the places I find myself in – fossils or not, these are the wonders I often find myself amongst.

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Schoharie Creek, Gilboa, NY

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Kaaterskill Creek, Catskill, NY

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Trace Fossils, Catskill, NY

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Two personal comments on the way out.

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It was exactly fours years ago when I first exhibited my fossil images at the GCCA Gallery in Catskill. Unsure how the work would be regarded, I was ultimately gratified by the response. And I remain especially thankful to my good friend, Fawn Potash, for having faith and giving me that opportunity. Much has happened since that show!

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Much of the upside of being a working photographer, to me, was always the notion that the camera was a ticket (or a pass) that allowed one into a world of experiences that few other occupations could ever match. I have many fine memories of unique and special encounters.

seegerv3_lr_12A number of years ago I had the good fortune of spending a day photographing Pete Seeger at his hilltop home overlooking the Hudson River. I was shooting for Bill Moyers’ production company. Bill was there to conduct an extended interview. As we strolled through the neighboring woods Pete spoke about everything from the Spanish Civil War to the blacklists of the 1950s. But it was talk about the Vietnam protests and their respective individual roles that produced one of the most amazing conversations I have been privy to. While Pete was one of the major figures protesting, Mr. Moyers was President Johnson’s Press Secretary. What each side knew and did not know about the other at that time was fascinating.

Mr. Seeger was a true giant who very few could ever match. You could feel his presence. It was palpable. And it was truly special. Rest in Peace.

Thank you for visiting.

0905: A Flurry of Activity

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I’m happy to say that the above piece, entitled “Buy Now, Pray Later,” just won the Juror’s Choice Award at the Woodstock Artists’ Association and Museum (WAAM) show opening this Saturday afternoon. You’re right – it doesn’t remotely look like fossils. The theme of the show is “In the News” (Art expressing a point of view about current or past events). I thought this image combined the nutty taste of run-amok evangelism with the ominous clouds of imperiled consumerism. I shot it a few years ago in the parking lot of the Hudson Valley Mall in Kingston. 4 – 6 PM Saturday in Woodstock.

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That Renaissance Guy up the road, my good friend Harry Matthews, has work currently up at the Mountaintop Arboretum in Tannersville. His balanced stone sculptures are delightful and mystifying. And set in such a beautiful location, with the Catskill peaks filling out the view, it’s a great reason to take a drive up Kaaterskill Clove and enjoy the last days of Summer or even early Autumn colors (it’s up until October 14).

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You might remember this one. It’s a favorite of mine that’s making the rounds lately. This double crinoid image, taken at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History made it into the PHOTOcentric 2013 show at the Garrison Art Center in Garrison, NY. I’m happy to say that this is the third year in a row my work has been accepted into this national juried show. The opening is Sunday, September 15 and it will run through October 6. Unfortunately, I will miss the opening. I will be in Italy, preparing for my September 20 opening at the Florence Natural History Museum.

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One last show to report on – this piece “Window” – was selected for the 2013 Artists of the Mohawk Hudson Region exhibition, being held this year at the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY. It will run from October 15 through December 29.

I bring this up now because we had to run the print up there today (85 miles away) and used the trip to view a terrific show at the Hyde that only has ten days left. The show is entitled “Modern Nature. Georgia O’Keefe and Lake George”. It’s a small but very thoughtful exploration of O’Keefe’s days on Lake George and how it shaped much of her future (and more famous) work. And there are more than enough gems to make the trip worthwhile.

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For the first time (thanks to the curator’s choices) I was able to see her influences – from Arthur Dove, to Kandinsky, and even Braque. What a wonderful exercise! And what did I get hooked on? Her trees, of course! A subject that has certainly captured my attention these past few months. I never knew (or remembered) that she specifically painted them. It made for a great day.

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O’Keefe was quoted in 1927 as saying “If only people were trees…I might like them better.” Spending most of my days in my little studio in the woods I must say I’m beginning to understand.

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It’s only fitting that I give you a couple more tree images from our recent trip to Isle La Motte, including these two trees fighting over a rock.

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I’ll end with one last picture from Isle La Motte – our last night there.

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Thanks for visiting.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

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