101217: Revisiting Trilobites

Since I began working on a series of trilobite inspired drawings I decided to revisit my photo library to put this grouping together. I don’t find them around here too often. And when I do they are seldom more that parts – sometimes the eyes, but mostly the hind end or pygidium. These first four images come from other, well established collections.

The first three are from the collection of the Paleontological Research Institute / Museum of the Earth. They are located in Trumansburg NY, just outside Ithaca.

And the fourth one (below) is from Chazy Reef on Isle La Motte in Vermont.

The remainder of images are taken from the surrounding area here in Catskill, all of which I have found while digging.

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These last two trilobite images have a slightly different story. I came across this box full of Moroccan trilobites at the wonderful outdoor market in Florence, Sant Ambrogio, a few years ago. It was the only time I ever purchased a fossil.

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I’ll leave you today with a seasonal note – Autumn is definitely upon us.

Thanks for the visit.

100616: Chazy Reef 2016

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Just got back from Isle La Motte, Vermont after retrieving my recent show. It’s always a pleasure visiting with all the fine folks at the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust. It’s also a pleasure to take some time sitting on the shore of Lake Champlain, relaxing amid the surrounding beauty

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The water was exceptionally low, something we’ve heard throughout the Northeast for months now. The receding shoreline has exposed usually submerged rocks, giving us a reason to walk the shore and explore.

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Aside from the odd apple tree (an escapee from one of the numerous orchards on the island), we found way too many fossils to even count. What a bonanza!

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Gastropods, cephalopods, and stromatoporoids.

For those unfamiliar, gastropods are the spirally ones, cephalopods are the straight ones, and stromatoporoids are the wavy ones.

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They are all marine invertebrate fossils from the Ordovician Period, roughly 480 million years ago.

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This southern part of the island, a world renowned geological treasure known as the Chazy Fossil Reef, is the world’s oldest ecologically diverse fossil reef.

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Information on the science and history of the Reef can be found at the ILMPT website. The story of the environmental battles that led to the preservation of the reef sites, “The Quarriers: A Conservation Tale,” written by Linda Fitch, can be found here.

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An important part of ILMPT’s mission is public education. Student groups from all over the region make visits to the Goodsell Ridge Preserve, where many fossil outcrops exist. The newly renovated barn, now the Nature Center is a focal point for students, educators, scientists, tourists, and the local population.

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I’ll finish for today with these two images, a sponge above and a gastropod below, new additions to the collection in the Nature Center. Plan a visit if you are in the area.

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Thanks for the visit.

071416: Two Communities

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As promised, here are the remaining images from my show set to open on Sunday in Isle La Motte (on the shores of Lake Champlain). It’s always a favorite destination for Cindy and me, not only due to the natural beauty of the surroundings but also to the wonderful community that calls Isle La Motte home.DSC00157_01_LR_12

These days there is so much chatter about the fear and insecurity plaguing the country at large. One would think, if one follows news reports, that the land is in chaos, that decency is in short supply, and that daily life is under assault.

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It is true that there are many problems that currently befall us. Whatever injustice is suffered by any citizen, it is done as well to you and me. And there is much to rear up against and make our voices heard, hopefully at the ballot box in November.

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So, at a time when the negativity seems overwhelming, I’d like to tell you about two communities who reflect so much of what is good.

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In the case of Isle La Motte, it was a group of local citizens who fought a battle, lasting years, to save a part of their island. The Chazy Reef Formation is the oldest known fossil coral reef system on the planet – a place of worldwide scientific significance and local pride.

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When the reef was threatened by plans to reopen a long abandoned quarry, the local residents banded together to prevent it from happening.

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They succeeded but then took it further. Thanks to their efforts, the Isle La Motte Land Preservation Trust was established. Under the leadership of resident Linda Fitch, money was raised to purchase the two primary parcels of land that are now deemed National Natural Landmarks.

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Fund raising is an ever ongoing effort. The new barn and education center, general upkeep, etc. all fall on the shoulders of the local volunteers.

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The folks on Isle La Motte are proud of their natural wonders and cultural heritage and celebrate it together.

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Community and cultural heritage are the key factors in the joy and celebration I witnessed last Sunday in Gilboa, NY. Gilboa is home to the oldest known tree fossils in the world. In fact, in the past few years, scientists plotted out some of this earliest known forest floor.

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In another example of local residents keeping alive local culture and history, an open house was held to celebrate the opening of the History Center at the Gilboa Museum. A beautiful addition was built thanks to the donations made by Mr. Nicholas J. Juried ( seen above with Ms Kristen Wycoff, chairwoman). Son of immigrants, Mr. Juried grew up in Gilboa and returned to fund the museum’s addition in honor of his parents.

 

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A large crowd turned out for the event. My friends Bob and Johanna Titus were present as well (above). Bob took a crowd out for a fossill walk along Schoharie Creek following the formal presentations.

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Their new book, the 25th anniversary edition was also on display on Sunday. It gave additional meaning to this gathering  – The cover painting of the Gilboa Forest (as assumed by the scientists) was done by the aforementioned Kristen Wycoff!

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I’ll end with this image – a 5′-6′ length of tree bark from the Eospermotopteris tree, the one seen in Kristen’s painting. It was donated to the museum just last week by a Gilboa neighbor, just in time for the celebration..

Thanks for the visit.

070716: Getting Ready for Vermont

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I’m looking forward to my upcoming show at the Fisk Farm on Isle La Motte in Vermont. The opening is set for Sunday, July 17. In the past I have exhibited work up there that related to the island, specifically the fossils of Chazy Reef.

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This time I have chosen a selection of images that relate to the broader natural world and the patterns and designs that reside within. That includes many of the subjects that I have shown in this blog in the recent past.

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They cover the various images of wood, lichen,fossils, and rock affected by natural processes that have occupied much of my creative time recently.

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Many of these images will be familiar to regular viewers. The show will consist of twenty images, ten of which I share with you today. The remaining ten will appear in next week’s post.

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So, for those unable to be there, please enjoy this selection. And for those who will attend, please enjoy the presentation. They are all beautifully printed and framed in sizes 24″x30″ and 16″x20″, in limited editions of ten, and all available for sale.

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These remaining five images come from my “rock garden.”

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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.

052616: The Geology of the Devonian

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Today’s fossil images will appear in a show that I am excited to announce. I was honored to be asked by Dr. Robert Titus (aka The Catskills Geologist) to join him and his wife, Johanna Titus, in an exhibition at the Erpf Gallery at the Catskill Center in Arkville, NY.

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From the press release:

The Geology of the Devonian: In the Heart of the Catskills will be on display at the Erpf Gallery June 4th through July 30, 2016. This exhibit will merge the scientific geological writings of Robert and Johanna Titus with the exquisite fossil photographs of Art Murphy. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, June 4, from 3-5 PM, at the Erpf Center in Arkville.”

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“Come journey into the heart of the Catskills through an engaging merger of science and art. Discover the history of the Devonian period, some 400 million years ago, when tropical seas and primitive forests left the wonderful fossils we find today. Learn through the narrative of science, the beautiful photos, and fossil displays of this diverse exhibit why New York is known worldwide for its fine exposures of the Devonian strata.”

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“Robert and Johanna Titus, along with Art Murphy will be speaking about the exhibit at 3 pm on Saturday, June 4. After the talk please join us for a reception as we celebrate 25 years of the “Kaatskill Geologist” in Kaatskill Life Magazine.”

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“Dr. Robert Titus is a professor of Geology at Hartwick College in Oneonta NY, and his wife Johanna Titus is an instructor at SUNY Dutchess. They are columnists, writing popular geoscience columns for Kaatskill Life Magazine, the Woodstock Times, the Hudson Register Star, the Catskill Daily Mail, the Chatham Courier, and the Windham Journal. They are frequently invited to speak for Catskills and Hudson Valley civic groups. They are the authors of Hudson Valley in the Ice Age, a geological history and tour.”

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“The Geology of the Devonian: In the Heart of the Catskills is on display June 4th through July 30, 2016. The opening reception will be held June 4, 2016 from 3-5 pm. For more information, contact the Catskill Center at 845-586-2611.”

10. Crinoid Columnals

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the fascinating “deep time” history of our region – a history that is seated in a time nearly four hundred million years ago when an inland sea covered much of this area.

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I have had the good fortune of hearing Dr. Titus speak on the subject and have read his books. He has a way of taking sometimes difficult scientific subject matter and making it understandable and accessible to the layman.

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So, let June 4th be a fine day to plan a drive out to Arkville, take in the beautiful scenery of New York State in Springtime, and learn more about this wonderful place we call home! I hope to see you there.

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And speaking of shows – I’ve been preparing for a show in mid July with my friends up at the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust on Lake Champlain (the Vermont side).

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No fossils this time. But rather some of my observations from the world of nature.

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These images of gnarled, weathered wood seem to represent my latest obsession!

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Between the wood, the lichen, and, of course, the fossils, I’m thinking I might need sherpas to help me with all that I carry out of the local forest (or perhaps another arm or two)!

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Thanks as always for the visit.

PS – Hey Linda Fitch I hope you like what you see!

1001: TR at ILM

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That’s Teddy Roosevelt Day on Isle La Motte. Every September, the inhabitants of this little island on Lake Champlain celebrate our 26th U.S. President, lifelong naturalist and champion conservationist. As the story goes, TR, while serving as Vice President, visited the island in September of 1901. While there, a phone call came for him (on the island’s only telephone at the time) informing him that President McKinley had been shot.

An important event in local history certainly, but it’s the “conservationist” issue that resonates with the island’s residents. Their tireless efforts to save and preserve Chazy Reef for all of us continues today as it has for the past twenty years. The island’s bedrock is formed by the oldest known fossil coral reef in the world – nearly a half billion years old! And scientists from the world over visit the site to peer into the planet’s deep past.

This year’s events, ranging from apple picking, cider pressing, demonstrations at the Historical Society, hayrides, etc. all culminated in a parade, led by TR himself, that ended at the newly refurbished Goodsell Barn, The barn, pictured below, was formally introduced to the public as part of the day’s festivities, and will serve as a nature center and education space.

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I was honored to be asked to display a show of my Chazy Reef fossil images at this opening. And, I am happy to say that this work will reside there permanently and serve as a backdrop for future events educational and otherwise.

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TR showed up and praised the local conservation efforts. He best described the importance of the day, stressing the importance of our collective role as caretakers of the planet.

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And it was a message well received and appreciated by all those present.

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It was a great turnout. Seems like the whole island showed up. It was a wonderful experience – small town America at its finest. Neighbors working together for a common (and very important) good. They should be proud of their efforts. Their desire and ability to preserve and maintain Chazy Reef deserves our great thanks.

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The day ended, as all good small town events do, with a potluck dinner back at the Fisk Farm compound, where the indefatigable Beth and Larry Welton (otherwise known as Tin Penny) provided additional entertainment. It was a very special day.

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In my free moments, while wandering through the neighboring Fisk Quarry, I came across more and more gastropod fossils Here are a few of the new ones.

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More information about Chazy Reef and its importance may be found at the ILMPT website

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Aside from the trip to Isle La Motte I’ve been on the road a lot lately. But I did find a little time to crack some rocks back at the studio. This one rather small rock had an interesting yield. Here are three images from that rock.

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And, one last note that I couldn’t resist including. From a recent stay on Paradox Lake in the Adirondacks – views from the porch on Sunday night and hours later the following morning.

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Thanks for the visit,