0528: The Joys of Technology

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This morning I got up and drove a few miles down a peaceful country road to my studio as I do every day. But somewhere between I seemed to have taken a wrong turn and landed in Technology Hell! Don’t know how it happened. Maybe some retrograde planets. Maybe some form of karmic retribution. Or just maybe it simply happened to be my turn.

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We all have those days, hopefully not too often. But between the phone company, power company and other assorted interests, my “quiet country road” turned into a parking lot for loud, oversized heavy equipment. And all I wanted was to be somewhere else.

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Fortunately, my photo library was there for me and I was able to calm down by revisiting wonderful places I have seen. So here today is my calmative. From the top are three images from the Adirondacks, Umbria, and Spoleto. The result of my “deep exhale” follows.

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Tuscany

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Fisk Quarry, Isle La Motte, Vermont

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Paris

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Chaco Canyon. New Mexico

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Eastern Montana

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 Florence

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Florence

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Notre Dame, Paris

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Eiffel Tower, Paris

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Rome

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Ithaca, New York

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It worked. I am quiet and content now!

Hopefully, you enjoyed it as well.

Thanks for the visit.

 

1106: The Triumph of Ignorance

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No new work to share this week other than the opener. I’ve been focusing on early planning for upcoming shows, which I’ll get to in a moment. But first, a few things to ponder in light of the just held elections:

– Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) will likely become the new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He believes that climate science can’t be real because it conflicts with his interpretation of a phrase in the Old Testament.

– It is likely that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will take over the Science and Space panel – As the Scientific American blog posted: Based on senate seniority, it is likely that the Republicans would appoint Ted Cruz as chairman of Commerce, Science and Transportation. Cruz is a climate skeptic who recently pushed for a reduction in NASA’s budget. It is also noteworthy that he was the public face of last year’s government shutdown, which did lasting damage to scientific research.

We can go down the list – more guns, less for education, the success of lies and misinformation that leads to a more polarized society, oligarchy, etc., etc. but it gets too depressing. For an assessment, check out this piece in Slate:

Midterm Elections, the Senate, and Republican Science Denial

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Someone posted this on Facebook earlier. It seems particularly appropriate.

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As I mentioned, I’ve been busy with early stage planning for a few upcoming shows – trying to thread some various images together. I always find it interesting to put images from various projects together and just see how they get along (or don’t). Here is one attempt. I’m sure there will be more. I hope you enjoy this next set.

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And, finally, perhaps there is a message in this crosscut of Devonian rock, sent from nearly 400 million years ago.

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Thanks for the visit.

0619: As Summer Begins

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The local quarry, which has been a focus of mine lately, has spoiled me. Thanks to the current owner, a large section of the most fossil-laden layer (a few feet deep, I believe) has been dug up and piled very high in several places. I simply show up and load the back of my car with rocks of all shapes and sizes.

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To be sure, I do employ some discrimination. And, while I’ve become more and more particular, I can still load the car in very short order.

IMG_2691_01_LR_10That main layer has little variation in what can be found – brachiopods mostly. (That’s why you usually see an abundance of them on this blog). Since I am more interested in the aesthetic possibilities than scientific discovery I am usually more than busy and happy with that situation.

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But there is something to the broader notion of exploration. And I was feeling that the other day as I pulled up to the same place and started to load my bag like usual. Other parts of this quarry contain some other types of fossils – different layers from different times – but far less abundant.

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 So I set out to find them that day. And here is some of what I found.

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I even took a minute to explore the woods that form the outer boundary of the quarry  – good timing for this one!

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Before I close, let me tell you about a wonderful event taking place this Sunday (June 22) on Lake Champlain – Isle La Motte, Vermont, to be precise. There you will find, at the Goodsell Ridge Preserve, the most ancient Chazy Reef (480 million years old). You’ll also find the dedicated group of local volunteers responsible for its preservation. And on Sunday, they invite you to the following:

YOU ARE INVITED TO THE GRAND OPENING OF THE WALK THROUGH TIME EXHIBIT. JUNE 22 1:00-5:00. FROM 1:00 TO 2:45 WILL BE AN OPPORTUNITY TO WALK THE 4,600 FOOT TRAIL WHERE PANELS ARE SET UP DEPICTING THE 4.6 BILLION YEAR HISTORY OF EARTH. BAGPIPES WILL SUMMON YOU AT 2:45 (I hope) to A RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY. MUSIC & REFRESHMENTS FROM 3:30 to 5:00.

If you are anywhere in the vicinity please drop by. If not, then plan a trip sometime this summer. It’s a wonderful place to visit – a place to learn about and view amazing things.

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Thanks for the 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

IMG_2772_01a_LR_10Ausable Chasm, 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.

Year’s End 2013

IMG_5800_01_LR_12Kaaterskill Creek passes within a hundred yards of my studio – a pleasure to view anytime of year. Yesterday it looked like this.

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We’ll be on the road this holiday season so this will be my final post for the year 2013. As I reflect on the past twelve months I must acknowledge the good fortune I have experienced, all thanks to the wonderful people I have been fortunate enough to meet. Many people to thank. The following images, personal favorites of mine from 2013, often reflect the kindness of others. I am most grateful for their interest and assistance.

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img_1796a_01_lr_10My thanks to everyone at the Catskill Center in Arkville. This image was created while participating this past summer in their Platte Clove Artist-In-Residency Program.

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img_7810_2b_lr_12A product of Paris – part of the Mohawk-Hudson Regional Show currently on display at the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls.

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img_9475_01_lr_10Auctioned off for “Hungry For Music“, a group that raises money for kids who can’t afford musical instruments.

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img_0071_01_0076_lr_12My thanks to Susan Butts and Derek Briggs at the Yale Peabody Museum who opened their doors to my camera. The twin “portrait” of crinoids was the result of exploring their backroom storage shelves.

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ilm_2306_lr_10And this image of crinoid ossicles, looking like a pile of buttons, was a favorite at my show this past summer on Isle La Motte in Vermont. These were fossils found there at Chazy Reef, some of the oldest I have ever photographed. My great thanks to Linda, Donald, and their friends and associates for the fine reception they gave this work.

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img_1698_01_lr_12Tile floor at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.

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Uniforms_LR_12Thanks to my friends, both old and new, with whom I shared in a wonderful project that led to a successful and well-received show, Small Town Parade, held at SPAF in Saugerties. It was an honor to share the experience with them.

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img_0999_01_lr_12A surprise find on the road, just outside Cooperstown – Wood Bull Antiques.

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img_9427_01_lr_10I met a guy on the street in Hudson one day. This box sat in the back of his pickup truck. He saw my interest, snapping away from the curb, so he gave it to me. Thanks again whoever you were.

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img_9442_01_lr_12A friend gave me this old rusted bicycle seat. Seeing it there, sitting in my drawer, conjures up thoughts of the Hindu God Ganesha.

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img_9357_01_lr_12My favorite gastropod, sitting in my Devonian Drawer with metal mesh salvaged from a burned down factory.

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img_2735a_01_lr_12An empty studio in Florence. Even empty space looks great there!

None of these images from Italy wold exist were it not for my dear friends who invited me to exhibit with them at the Natural History Museum on Florence. Many Thanks!

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img_4802_02_lr_10Rome Building Lobby

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       img_4177_01_lr_10And, finally, a misty hilltop in Tuscany. To all my Italian friends “Buon Natale.” And to everyone else, Best Wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday time and Good Fortune for 2014.

And thanks, as always, for your kind support and interest.

1031: The Best Autumn

IMG_5452_01_LR_10“This was the best Autumn ever!” That’s what I have heard from all my friends.We missed the best part of it while away. That said, it’s still a beautiful place to return to – this Hudson Valley. Each time of year has its special moments. And this special moment (above), during a hike last weekend, captured it for me, in all its natural randomness.

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IMG_1933_01_LR_12The weather has been great for a visit to the neighborhood quarry. Since my last visit some major new areas have been exposed and, while I am pretty familiar with the fossils to be found here, it is still and always a treat to find so much in one small place.

IMG_5386_01_LR_12Brachiopods looking like gold nuggets pouring out of the rock

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IMG_5510_01_LR_10All of the fossil images above (and many more) came from one rather large rock that I carried back to my studio. Originally it was roughly 2’x1’x8″ . The larger rock (that this was once part of) sits on a large pile awaiting my next visit.

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IMG_1932_01_LR_10Last week’s trip to Isle La Motte to pick up my recent show provided me with another view of Autumn, 2013.

IMG_5373_01_LR_12Fisk Quarry – Those two white,chalky spots on the wall (high center) are massive Ordovician stromatoporoids. And below are one of the many gastropods to be found there. All with the crisp scent of crushed apples underfoot!

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As I continue to edit my Italian images let me share these with you. The first three are from the Roman Baths of Caracalla. Massive structures and facilities that boggle the mind – especially when considering the date of origin – app. 212 A.D.

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_MG_4255_01_LR_12Mosaic tile flooring (from the upper floors)

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IMG_5209_01_LR_10And finally, a few random street scenes.

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Thanks for visiting.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe at my homepage artandfossils.wordpress.com

0829: Art and Science

IMG_2677_01_LR_12That’s what’s been on my mind lately – Art & Science. Actually, that pair, along with its many confluence points, often occupies my thoughts. These days in particular it is taking on a slightly different edge. I have been asked to give a talk in a few weeks following my opening at the Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy. What more appropriate topic might there be for me to discuss than Art & Science. And what could I possibly add that hasn’t already been said on the subject? In Florence, of all places, home of the Medici!

IMG_2655_01_LR_10While it’s familiar territory for me to explore, while much of my reading slides back and forth between the two, I seldom have the opportunity to discuss the topics. So, as I begin to prepare and compose my thoughts for this upcoming talk, I’ve been having conversations with friends – artists, scientists, and others – asking their thoughts on everything from the relationship (if any) between the two, to the contrasts and/or commonalities they might share. It’s been refreshing, eye-opening at times, and always a springboard to further discussion and creative exploration. I would welcome any reader of this blog to feel free to comment on the subject of Art & Science – I’d like to hear your  thoughts – any and all are welcome.

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IMG_2232_01_LR_10Underneath that big beautiful cloud sits Canada. That’s as close as we came to the border on our trip to Isle La Motte last week. Aside from the time spent hanging the show and attending a couple of events we were free to explore. I love those opportunities – you never know what might be around the next bend, whether it’s a simple landscape…

IMG_2192_01_LR_12…or something of odd historic significance – in this case a memorial to the construction of ICBM missiles.

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Frank Zappa once sang about moving to Montana to become a “dental floss tycoon” –  growing fields full of dental floss (Frank at his prime)!! So I had to conjure him up when I ran across fields of giant marshmallows along Lake Champlain.

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And then there was the Arnold Zlotoff Tool Museum on South Hero Island.

IMG_2508_01_LR_10More than 3000 old hand tools of every shape and design – free admission – all from the collection of a former New York City teacher of Industrial Arts.

IMG_2506_01_LR_10I found structures with interesting exteriors…

IMG_2245_01_LR_10…and others with tourist trap levels of tackiness…

IMG_2355_01_LR_!2(And, yes, they all had price tags on them!)

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My current tree obsession continues. Here are two more from the east side if Isle La Motte.

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Lastly, on the second anniversary of Hurricane Irene, I wanted to share this image.

IMG_1424_01_LR_10Rushing water ripped through the ground cover that day, exposing the foreground rock in a number of places at the home of friends. The exposed rock (filled with Devonian coral, by the way) has become incorporated into the landscape, providing additional beauty to this “Monet-like” landscape.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

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Home From Vermont

IMG_2412_01_LR_12v1Thanks to all the wonderful folks up on Isle La Motte the trip last week was an absolute pleasure for me and Cindy. We hung the show in record time and that left us with opportunities to explore, opportunities to hang out on Lake Champlain, and opportunities to meet many of the island’s residents.

IMG_2598_01_LR_10The Art Barn at Fisk Farm is the site of the show. It will stay up for at least the next month. For the past nineteen years, Ms Linda Fitch, seen above with me at the opening, and her cadre of friends, have been exhibiting art throughout the Summer months, along with musical events at their Sunday Tea, something that has become a Vermont institution!

IMG_2586_01_LR_10Everyone turns out for the Sunday Tea.

IMG_2588_01_LR_10No ordinary barn this. Carefully renovated, housing two grand pianos, it has been the site of many memorable world class musical events.

IMG_2365_01_LR_10In fact, this Saturday the barn will be the site of a wonderful concert for cello and piano. The performers, international star siblings Silvie and Brian Cheng, will perform at 7:30 PM.

IMG_2289_01_LR_10They managed to surprise us during the early opening on Thursday. They arrived unannounced and performed briefly, contributing to a totally charmed evening.

IMG_2364_01_LR_10I was very happy with how well the prints sat against the the aged barn wood. The fossil images, all found and photographed on the island, were very much at home.

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IMG_2257_01_LR_10Seemed like everywhere we went on the island I could always find another gastropod or two, or three, etc. This one was on the steps of a local eatery – one that had great brownies!

IMG_2577_01_LR_10These two were found during a brief visit to the quarry.

IMG_2582_01_LR_10And finally, local residents Tony and Terry Fowler showed me this beauty, an ammonoid, I believe, that they found on their property.

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I’ll have more on the trip next week – interesting things along the way. In the meantime, though, I wanted to share some more “trees.” Ever since my time at the Platte Clove cabin I have this urge to point the camera at trees. I don’t know where this one is coming from! I’m just rolling along with it – wherever it takes me.

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Thanks for your time. I’ll leave you with sunset on Lake Champlain.

Yes, it is that beautiful on Isle La Motte!

IMG_2490_01_LR_10More images at www.artmurphy.com

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Chazy Reef – Part 3

The Fisk Quarry Preserve

Pre-dawn light pulled me to the quarry. I had seen it briefly the day before so I knew the payoff would be worth the effort. I knew that strange and interesting sights awaited. I was not disappointed.

The long dormant quarry, at that hour of the day, had a captivating feel to it – beautiful yet slightly post apocalyptic. Maybe it had something to do with the uncovered remains of 450 million year old life. Maybe it had something to do with the two hundred years worth of human effort engaged in cutting and carting off, piece by piece, as much of this ancient reef as they could carry. Or maybe in the end it had something to do with the way in which the earth reclaims it – now as a wetlands.

A word about the Fisk Quarry. The site, first quarried by the French in 1666, was one of a handful of quarries active throughout the Nineteenth Century on Isle La Motte. Its unique and highly regarded stone found its way into sites such as Radio City, the National Gallery and Vermont’s State House. All this quarried stone, part of the bedrock, “…was actually the fossil remnants of an ancient reef. A Harvard geologist in 1924 called it ‘the oldest coral reef in the world.'”

Gastropods in the bedrock are, at least to me, endlessly fascinating. Set against the other markings on the face of the bedrock, they constantly reminded me of spiral galaxies. Squint a little as you view some of these gastropod images and you might think you are looking at images from the Hubble Telescope!

Perhaps the most amazing fossils to be found at the Fisk Quarry are stromatoporoids. An extinct ancestor of the sponge, it was one of the builders of the Chazy Reef.

Looking like an ever expanding cabbage, the stromatoporoids seen in the quarry walls are at least several feet in diameter. One has to wonder what else might be hidden in those walls!

The close-up below, coupled with the gastropods, shows the strangeness and diversity of life 450 million years ago. And given what we now know about the atmospheric conditions that existed at the time, one could only assume a landscape worthy of an Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury treatment!

The wetlands, created by time and abandonment, seem to be a fine place to end this final installment of the Chazy Reef story – for now. I look forward to many more visits in the future – if not for the unforgettable fossils to be found then most certainly for the sweeping beauty and the soulful caress of tranquility found there as well.

One last note – The Isle La Motte Preservation Trust (ILMPT), founded and organized by local citizens concerned about local heritage and the world around them, were able to save sites of worldwide significance through determination and hard work. They deserve your support. I’d bet that if you look a little closer to home you might very well find similarly well intentioned groups who could use a little of your help.

Visit Chazy Reef and Isle La Motte – a fine destination any time if year.

Next week – Ausable Chasm!

Subscribe at my homepage https://artandfossils.wordpress.com

Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

Thanks again for the visit.

Gilboa Revisited

Recent Gilboa discoveries have been much in the news. Articles in Nature Magazine, the Albany Times Union, and numerous online science news sites tell of the discovery of the floor of the world’s oldest forest. It’s a fascinating story that most recently unfolded thanks to the need for repairs on the ninety year old Gilboa Dam in Schoharie County (about an hour and a half away from my home in Catskill).

The general area around Gilboa had long been known for the “Gilboa stumps,” tree fossils dating back 385 million years.  It was in 2004 when Ms Linda Hernick and Mr. Frank Mannolini, both from the New York State Museum, discovered, not more stumps, but rather fossils of the tree’s intact crown and portions of trunk.The following is a close up image of that crown (The full crown and trunk image led the blog a few weeks ago – Gilboa Meets WAAM).

It was this find that allowed scientists to see finally, for the first time, what these trees (Eospermatopteris) looked like. There’s much more to the story. Dr. Bob Titus, Professor at Hartwick College, wrote about it much better and more fully in his latest newspaper column. He also writes about the small but delightful (and informative) Gilboa Museum.

This Sunday, in fact, (July 8) the Gilboa Museum will be holding an Open House from 1 – 3 PM. According to Ms Kristen Wyckoff  the Museum will be displaying several new permanent displays (the display space has been doubled). The Open House (which I attended last year) is a wonderful piece of Americana replete with local music, homemade cookies and cakes, and generous small town goodness. So after the breakfast dishes are done and the newspapers are read on Sunday get in the car and drive out to Gilboa (directions here) – a fine way to spend the afternoon.

As for the images displayed today, a number of them can be found in the current issue (Summer, 2012) of Kaatskill Life Magazine.

All of the above images are various tree fossils from Gilboa. Those below are plant fossils from the Gilboa area. All of the fossils displayed in this post come from the collection of the New York State Museum in Albany – a world class institution and a world class collection in upstate New York.

My great thanks, as always, to Ms Linda Hernick for allowing me the time and access to the Museum’s collection. As Paleobotany Collections Manager she oversees a stunning collection that, unfortunately like so many others, is rarely seen. The research value of most collections of this type is incalculable. Hopefully, viewed through a more sympathetic and aesthetic lens, objects like these can see the light of day and find their way on to the exhibition floor.

Thanks for visiting today. I’m sure there will be pics from the Gilboa Open House coming some time soon. Next week, though, we’ll head back to Chazy Reef for a final installment featuring the Fisk Quarry Preserve. Believe it or not, the trip to Chazy Reef led us to another gem – Ausable Chasm. Plenty to tell about that in coming weeks.

Subscribe or sign up for email notification to see the final installment of the Chazy Reef story.

Subscribe at my homepage https://artandfossils.wordpress.com

Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

Thanks again for the visit.