Sand, Sea, Stone, String x 3

Artists’ Residency For Two

In early June of 2016, Elena and I (plus husbands) headed to Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard for a glorious week of pure art play, as we have done together for many years. Because Aquinnah is located in a sparsely populated area at the very end of the island and is mostly deserted in early June, we have a pristine beach to ourselves as a palette for experimentation. It is our own private artists’ residency, a place and time of rejuvenation and inspiration that has served as the incubator for many of our collaborative and individual art projects.

 Philbin Beach, Aquinnah


The Pallette: Philbin Beach, Aquinnah

This year, we decided to limit the materials we brought for our experimental installations to black and red parachute cord.  We wanted to play with the contrast of black and red line on the ochre sand and natural rocks. We also wanted to document the motion of the water as it ‘redesigned’ our line patterns. (For those of you who follow this blog and the progress of The Wave as it travels from site to site, you will note that we use black parachute cord to connect all of The Wave pieces that are created by public participants into our Wave installations.)

“Home” 

One of the first installations we completed was conceived as a two-dimensional ‘home’ constructed in the shape of a linear square box with interior ‘spaces’ and ‘rooms.’ When we began, the ‘home’ was situated on the sand at least two – three feet from the shoreline.  Here it is, nearly complete, followed by details of its interior ‘spaces.’

 "Home," Parachute Cord and Rock on Sand, 2016.


“Home,” Image #1, Parachute Cord and Rock on Sand, 2016.

 'Home,' Parachute Cord and Rock on Sand, 2016


‘Home,’ Image, #2, Parachute Cord and Rock on Sand, 2016

 "Home," Parachute Cord and Stone on Sand, Detail, 2016


“Home,” Parachute Cord and Stone on Sand, Detail #1, 2016

 'Home," Parachute Cord and Stone on Sand, Detail, 2016


‘Home,” Parachute Cord and Stone on Sand, Detail #2, 2016

 'Home," Parachute Cord and Stone on Sand, Detail, 2016


‘Home,” Parachute Cord and Stone on Sand, Detail #3, 2016

Eventually, the tide moved in and altered the installation, shifting lines, moving rocks and adding lines and rocks of its own. (See green seaweed, wrapped around red and black cord) Our ‘home’ was no more, morphed into a ‘sea-scape.’

 'Home,' Parachute Cord and Rock on Sand, Detail, 2016


‘Home,’ Parachute Cord, Seaweed and Rock on Sand, Detail #4, 2016

 'Home' Parachute Cord, Stone and Water, 2016


‘Home’ Parachute Cord, Stone and Water, Detail #5, 2016

“Big, Black Rock”

While walking on the beach, as we did several times a day, we both noticed this big, black rock, decorated with a ‘dress’ of seaweed and poised magnificently between shore and sand. Using red cord to ‘wrap’ the black rock and mimic the seaweed ‘dress,’ we watched as the relentless sea moved in to pound against the rock and reposition what we had created.

 "Big, Black Rock," Parachute Cord and Rock on Rock, 2016


“Big, Black Rock,” Parachute Cord and Rock on Rock, 2016

 "Big, Black Rock," Parachute Cord and Rock on Rock, Detail #1, 2016


“Big, Black Rock,” Parachute Cord and Rock on Rock, Detail #1, 2016

 "Big, Black Rock," Parachute Cord and Rock on Rock, Detail #2, 2016


“Big, Black Rock,” Parachute Cord and Rock on Rock, Detail #2, 2016

 "Big, Black Rock," Parachute Cord and Rock on Rock, Detail #3, 2016


“Big, Black Rock,” Parachute Cord and Rock on Rock, Detail #3, 2016

“Big Rocks, Little Rocks”

Inspired by “Big, Black Rock,” we selected a series of big and small rocks to wrap and ‘connect’ with red cord. As with all of the previous installations, we were forced to move quickly before the waves took over. The first image below records the site before we began. The second image shows one of the rocks ‘wrapped’ intricately with the red cord. In the third image, the tide has already changed the careful ‘wrapping’ significantly and in the fourth, the water has moved over the small rocks to remove the ‘wrapping’ and tangle the cording.

 "Big Rocks, Little Rocks," Parachute Cord and Rocks, 2016.


“Big Rocks, Little Rocks,” Parachute Cord and Rocks, 2016. Before Installation.

 "Big Rocks, Little, Rocks," Parachute Cord and Rocks, Detail #1, 2016


“Big Rocks, Little, Rocks,” Parachute Cord and Rocks, Detail #1, 2016

 "Big Rocks, Little Rocks," Parachute Cord and Rocks, 2016.


“Big Rocks, Little Rocks,” Parachute Cord and Rocks, 2016.

 "Big Rocks, Little Rocks," Parachute Cord and Rocks, Detail #2, 2016


“Big Rocks, Little Rocks,” Parachute Cord and Rocks, Detail #2, 2016

Metaphors Galore

With nothing to bring home besides the red and black cord we had brought to the site as well as the several hundred photographs we had taken to record the work, we are still internalizing the process we undertook and the images that resulted from our efforts. There are metaphors that come to mind that will need to be translated into future projects: the impermanence of ‘home’ and daily experiences; the fragility of personal and communal connections; the beauty of line, natural or otherwise. Stay tuned.

The Year in Water: Too Much and Too Little

This year, as 2013 draws to a close, the print, television and internet media are filled, as they are at every year’s end, with reviews of the year by category: “The Year in Style,” “The Year in Sports,” “The Year in Arts,” “The Year in Politics,” etc.  With this post, I hereby add my ‘take’ on year-end summaries with “The Year, 2013, in Water.” By all accounts, 2013 was a year of water extremes around the globe: too much water or too little of it.

Too Much Water

Words like ‘historic,’ ‘massive’ and ‘disastrous’ were used to describe the extensive rain events that befell regions and countries around the world during 2013.

June was an especially intense month of flooding in Central Europe, southern Alberta, Canada and India.  Beginning on June 2, record rainfall affected major rivers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia. The Danube River in Passau, Germany reached its highest level since 1501 and many European cities documented flood waters that represented the highest numbers in over a century, causing widespread evacuations, significant damage to homes, businesses and communities as well as loss of life.

 Kresice, Czech Republic, lies submerged on June 4, 2013 (Petr Jesek/Reuters)


Kresice, Czech Republic, Lies Submerged on June 4, 2013 (Petr Jesek/Reuters)

Similarly, heavy rainfall prior to June 20, 2013 triggered flooding in southern Alberta, Canada that has been described by the provincial government as the worst in Alberta’s history and by the Canadian government as the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.

 Evacuations in Alberta, Canada, 2013


Evacuations in Alberta, Canada, 2013

Although monsoons in India are an annual event that help to sustain India’s agriculture, the June, 2013 monsoon that hit northern India produced rainfall in one area that was five times the average for the time period, causing mudslides and flooding numerous mountain villages known for their Hindu shrines.

 A Submerged Idol of Hindu Lord Shiva in the Flooded River Ganges in Rishikesh, in the Northern Indian State of Uharakhand. AP Photo


A Submerged Idol of Hindu Lord Shiva in the Flooded River Ganges in Rishikesh, in the Northern Indian State of Uttarakhand. (AP Photo)

During the week after September 11, 2013, Colorado rainfall over a period of five days in some areas of the state exceeded the amount it normally experiences in a year.  Subsequent flooding that impacted seventeen Colorado counties caused the destruction of over 200 miles of state highways, 50 bridges and thousands of homes and forced massive evacuations.

 Flash Flood in Colorado, 2013


Flash Flood in Colorado Destroyed a Portion of a Road, 2013

And, just this past week, days of torrential rain precipitated major flooding in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, where over 60,000 residents were forced to flee their homes and where at least 30 people have died. The disaster has been called the worst in 90 years.

 Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Surveying the Damage Caused by Massive Flooding.


Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, Surveying the Damage Caused by Massive Flooding. (Reuters)

Too Little Water

At the same time that many areas of the world experienced excess amounts of water during 2013, others faced the repercussions of drought.

According to the Global Drought Information System, which produces a monthly report on drought conditions, prolonged drought has intensified in the Southwest, U.S., spawning the term,”megadrought,” and triggering numerous ‘megafires’ that have decimated thousands of acres of farms and forests.  In Latin America, drought has caused as much damage as other more highly reported natural disasters: extended drought in Bolivia, the worst in 40 years, has triggered 47,000 fires; Argentinian and Brazilian corn plantations, which supply half of the world’s corn produce, have been decimated; and a food emergency has been declared in Paraguay.

 A Food Emergency Has Been Declared in Paraguay Due to Prolonged Drought


A Food Emergency Has Been Declared in Paraguay Due to Prolonged Drought

Other areas of the world impacted by sustained drought include the South of Africa, areas of Europe along the Mediterranean, Southern India and much of southeast and central parts of Australia.

 2013 Drought in Ireland


2013 Drought in Ireland (Agriland.ie)

This is not an uplifting end of year report, by any means.  Here’s hoping our scientists and politicians around the world begin to seriously tackle the hard work of addressing climate change so that future ‘Years in Water’ show reductions in the severity of water events and their human, economic and ecological costs.

The Color of Water in Nature and in Art

Is Water Blue?

Well, that depends. Because of it’s intrinsic molecular structure, water is generally tinted a pale blue. But it can take on different hues when it contains impurities, bacteria and other natural or unnatural substances or by reflecting what is above its surface.

A section of the Colorado River at Marble Canyon in Arizona is colored by algae that blooms in the spring, turning the water a deep, hooker’s green.

 The Colorado Canyon, Arizona, at Marble Canyon


The Colorado Canyon, Arizona, at Marble Canyon

The Emerald Lakes on Mt. Tongariro, a compound volcano in New Zealand, contain large deposits of surfur, which ‘paint’ the water a beautiful shade of turquoise.

 Emerald Lakes, Mt. Tongariro, New Zealand


Emerald Lakes, Mt. Tongariro, New Zealand

On September 6, 2012, a portion of the Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world, suddenly turned beet red near the city of Chongquing. Scientists debated the cause: some attributed the frightening color to sediment forming upstream and traveling downstream; others suggested that microorganisms in the water were the culprit; many blamed industrial pollution. Bloggers and other media sources even proposed at the time that the strange phenomenon was the result of a biblical curse.

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The Yangtze River at Chongquing, September, 2012,

Oceans and lakes reflect the multiple colors in the sky, creating a mirror effect in the water.

sunsets 19How Do Artists Depict The Color of Water?

Over the last century, as part of modern art movements such as impressionism, fauvism, and pointillism, etc., artists have taken great liberties in rendering what they perceive to represent the color and nature of water. Here are some notable examples.

Georges Braque, the 20th century French painter who began his career as an impressionist, later embraced the Fauvist style and ultimately co-founded the movement known as cubism, created this image, entitled, “Landscape near Antwerp” in 1906.  The striking mauve, yellow and red colors of the water and the bold strokes of the paint suggest a highly emotional responses to the scene, characteristic of the Fauve approach to painting.

 "Landscape near Antwerp," Georges Braque, 1906


“Landscape near Antwerp,” Georges Braque, 1906, Collection of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC, 60 x 80 cm.

French impressionist, Claude Monet, created 250 paintings in his Water Lily series, depicting the gardens and landscape of his beloved home at Giverny. In this one, entitled, “The Water Lilies – Setting Sun,” Monet used soft yellow, mauve, blue and green colors, reflecting the gorgeous light of the sky on the lily pond at the end of the day.


“The Water Lilies – Setting Sun,” Claude Monet, 1914 – 1926, Collection of the Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris, 78.74″ x 236.22″

David Hockney, a British-born Pop artist, worked for a period of three decades from the 1960′s through the 1980′s on a series of paintings of swimming pools set in California landscapes. The swimming pool paintings reflected his fascination with the ‘utopian’ popular culture of the sunny, California lifestyle. Using vibrant colors that were filled with the suggestion of sunlight, Hockney’s presented his own version of water, chlorinated and sanitized within the man-made, concrete version of a ‘swimming hole.’

 "A Bigger Splash," David Hockney, 1967, 95.5" x 96"


“A Bigger Splash,” David Hockney, 1967, 95.5″ x 96″

Of course, I couldn’t end this post without a reference to the way in which Elena and I have depicted the color of water. In 2012, we completed twelve, 4′x 8′ sequential paintings on paper, entitled “Mid-Summer Day’s Dream,” a mixed-media, visual narrative relating the experience of an ordinary day interrupted by a life-changing event. The painting shown here is the seventh in the twelve-part series. Using red, pink, yellow, purple, black, white, brown and multiple shades of blue and green, we created an image of the moment in which the hesitant viewer of the narrative finally plunges into the force of an approaching wave.


“Plunge,” Painting 7 of 12 in “Mid-Summer Day’s Dream,” Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, Acrylic and Mixed Media on Paper, 4′ x 8,’ 2010 – 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Water

Water as a Marker of Seasonal Change

Although March 20 marks the first official day of spring on the calendar, the temperature here in Hartford, Connecticut is still hovering around 40 degrees fahrenheit during the day and dropping into the 20s and 30s at night. There are many signs, however, that the seasons are indeed changing. In Stamford, CT, where Elena lives, the ice that has melted in the pond on her property and the growing translucent quality of light reflected in the water clearly reveal the transition from winter to spring. The images below remind us of the inherent beauty of water and its capacity to reflect and enhance the environment in which it resides.

 Trees Reflected in the Winter Pond Photograph Courtesy of Elena Kalman


Trees Reflected in the Winter Pond
Photograph Courtesy of Elena Kalman

 Winter Pond With Ice Photograph Courtesy of Elena Kalman


Winter Pond With Ice
Photograph Courtesy of Elena Kalman

 Pond in Spring Photograph Courtesy of Elena Kalman


Pond in Spring
Photograph Courtesy of Elena Kalman