0312: Almost Spring

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We hit fifty degrees yesterday – what a welcome relief! Spring is near. For whatever reason, my thoughts turned to the trees that are soon to bloom. So I put together a group of tree images for the post today. No fossils this time. Hopefully melting snow will uncover some and provide me with fresh new fossil pics. Until then please enjoy what Mother Nature surrounds us with. (More on Mother Nature at the end of this post).

Today’s opening image is from an olive grove near the town of Assisi.

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Siena, Italy

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Vermont

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Lake Champlain, NY

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Paris

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Boboli Gardens, Florence,Italy

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Platte Clove NY

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Leonardo da Vinci birthplace, Vinci, Italy

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Cairo NY

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Lexington VA

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Opus 40, Saugerties NY

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These four color images are possible late additions to my upcoming show at Marist College. The opening is set for April 1st, 5-7pm. More on that in days to come. For now I thought they would be a good counterpoint to all the black and white.

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This last one is part of an entirely different project. I had to include it since I just finished it and I think it holds much promise.

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A final note – regarding Mother Nature. I was knocked out by a video that a friend posted on Facebook yesterday, so much so that I needed to share it with you. It comes from the website Nature is Speaking. There are eight brief two minute videos beautifully shot with voiceovers – very powerful statements that need to be considered. Perhaps a donation might be in order.

Thanks for the visit.

0807: Abstract/Concrete

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So let me take this opportunity today to tell you about the show of mine that opens on Saturday night – how it came about and share the full set of images for those unable to attend. A favorite piece of advice to artists that I read long ago, that had great impact on me, should help set the stage.

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The passage is from Leonardo da Vinci, who felt that artists could find creativity by staring at a crumbling wall and letting the mind wander:

When you look at a wall spotted with stains, or with a mixture of stones, if you have to devise some scene you may discover a resemblance to various landscapes… or, again, you may see battles and figures in action, or strange faces and costumes, or an endless variety of objects, which you could reduce to complete and well-drawn forms. These appear on such walls promiscuously, like the sound of bells in whose jangle you may find any name or word you choose to imagine.

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My “crumbling wall” in this case was the floor of a construction site. While on a trip this past Spring I happened across this site that had a large, recently poured concrete floor. Apparently, the drying and curing process of concrete can sometimes create strange designs on the surface.

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Quite different from the “deep time” fossils I tend to often focus on, these designs, residual effects of man’s handiwork, are very short lived and ephemeral. What a perfect counterpoint for me to explore, I thought.

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Aside from a few cracks and one lone partial footprint these randomly generated patterns have no points of reference.

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They exist (or, rather, existed) pure unto themselves.

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The gritty nature of the subject matter was a quality that I initially fought with thanks to older notions of what constituted a “perfect print.”

IMG_0598_01a_LR_10My solution was to embrace the grit as being a necessary part of the character of these designs.

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And the results are a series of lush, somewhat enigmatic prints that invite the personal interpretations of the viewer.

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To those who have already seen some of the pieces, some see nothing but color and shape (and that’s plenty, as far as I’m concerned). Others seem to have more personal reactions and see hints that conjure up a wide range of emotions, representations, and hidden meanings.

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The images are printed in an edition of 10, sized to 22.5″x30″ on a heavy watercolor paper.

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I am very proud of this work and happy that it steps further out of the realm of traditional photography – a personal evolution that I embrace.

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Please stop by the gallery if you are in the vicinity. And, as always, thank you for this visit.

1024: Halloween to da Vinci

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At the end of a long corridor at La Specola, at the entrance to rooms full of anatomical waxworks, this skeleton greets all visitors. An appropriate image, I thought, with Halloween just around the corner. La Specola, one of six sections that cumulatively comprise the Florence Museum of Natural History, is world famous for the waxworks and, while immensely fascinating, is not for the squeamish!

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But it turns out that La Specola is so much more. It deals with the broader subject of Zoology. Opened in 1775, it is the oldest scientific museum in Europe. I’ll have much more in future posts.

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The Botany Section, in which I was also allowed to photograph, is another wonder to behold. Not only does it contain an herbaria containing more than 225,000 dried plant specimens, it also houses endless cabinetry filled with plant seeds and samples in glass-stoppered bottles and vials. Here are a couple of examples:

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“Oculistico”, one of many street scenes I focused on, seems to have an undercurrent – and not an entirely pleasant one at that. What makes it so? Maybe it’s the sunglasses.

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Two more street scenes from Rome. Ancient buildings in the heart of the city – one with Roman artifacts strewn about all around it – and the other with motorbike parked out front.

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And here are two more from my Street Shrines series – in this case both from Rome.

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During our trip Cindy and I were constantly amazed and gratified by the treatment we received. Everyone we met was so very willing to extend themselves and help insure a memorable experience for both of us. One example was a wonderful day in the Tuscan countryside with Dr. Elisabetta Cioppi and Dr. Stefano Dominici, the two people to whom I owe such a huge debt of gratitude. It was they who were responsible for my exhibition. We managed to visit two fossil sites, the first of which was across the vineyard seen above. The cut in the distance, and the dirt road leading to it looked like this:

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I’ve never seen such density – fossils crackling underfoot like walking on popcorn! A hillside full of these Pliocene fossils (app. 3 million years old).

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I managed to bring a small bagful home to my studio where I have had some time to explore. These are a few of the resulting images.

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And finally, during that day in the countryside, Elisabetta took us to the little town of Vinci (as in Leonardo da ___). We toured the da Vinci Museum and then visited his birthplace. Turns out that in his youth he became familiar with these same fossils, part of his insatiable curiosity that eventually led to his greater understanding of geology and earth processes.

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My recent fascination with “character-laden” trees did not abate while in Italy. There was a great deal to choose from, especially this one special tree that resides in the courtyard of da Vinci’s birthplace.

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Thanks for visiting.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe at my homepage artandfossils.wordpress.com

So What Do You See?

The above image is that of a brachiopod in course sandstone, a small lip falling into shadow, and various colored stripes (that I assume are the result of chemical interactions over a very long period of time.) That’s what’s there. That’s the result of the last whack of my hammer and chisel. And yet as I view it I keep thinking about Saturn.

I am often pleasantly amused when viewers of my work see “other” things in the images. A few friends delight in playing their own version of “Where’s Waldo” where Waldo is replaced by a menagerie of animals. It’s that creative side of the brain at work. And for those who swear that they are anything but creative take a moment to read what Leonardo da Vinci said about letting the mind wander:

“When you look at a wall spotted with stains, or with a mixture of stones…you may see battles and figures in action, or strange faces and costumes, or an endless variety of objects, which you could reduce to complete and well-drawn forms. These appear on such walls promiscuously, like the sound of bells in whose jangle you may find any name or word you choose to imagine.”

I always hope my images provide the viewer with a jumping off point, whether for exploration, contemplation, or simple visual information. We each bring our own experiences to art. So if you find Waldo, congrats! Same too for “cosmic meaning” or even for just finding some 380 million year old former resident who lived and died at the bottom of an ancient inland sea.

I’ve posted some new work on my website, both fossils and non-fossils. Here are some direct links to those pages and a few samples. Take a look. I hope you enjoy them.

        New Fossil Images                                               New Assorted Images

Thanks for the visit. More always at www.artmurphy.com.