An eye for rust

Artful decay

As an aficionado of texture, when I came upon this old shack, I was in seventh heaven. Consider that great rusty barrel, the rain-stained wood, the stovepipe hanging at an angle, that old window missing one pane, the tattered, rusting side-panels. It was perfect!

And then I discovered why is was perfect. It’s not real. This sheep herder’s cabin, nestled among a grove of eucalyptus trees, is a carefully constructed movie set. All that rust is man-made, as was the angle of the stovepipe and the metal patches about to fall to the ground. All were built with an eye toward illusion.

I decided I liked it anyway. How could I not admire an artist with an eye for rust!

And now we welcome the new year.
Full of things that have never been.
~Rainer Maria Rilke~

 

Enter the resourceful agave

Spider web in agave plant

The sharp tips of the giant agave are there for a purpose–to fend off predators such as javelina and hungry cattle intent on a juicy meal.

Too bad somebody didn’t tell the spiders, who found the spines to be perfect tent poles for their webs. Or the wind, who discovered the web to be a perfect receptacle for some spare leaves just blowing around.

It is nice to find something that can be put to more than one useful purpose. Nature is resourceful that way.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering
is to save all the parts.

~Paul Ehrlich~

The Marie Kondo of the insect world

termite skyscrapers

In the desert, termite colonies thrive. It never gets cold enough to kill them, and sometimes there may be as many as twenty colonies in a yard–or under a house!

After a recent rain, I found these two Lilliputian skyscrapers in a stream bed. Although the water had dried out on the surface, underneath, there was just enough moisture in the earth to allow these tiny bits of sand to cling together when the termites carried them out of their home.

The efficiency of the termite colony is amazing. The insects carry the grains just far enough from the opening that sand doesn’t fall back into the burrow, thus building these tiny mounds. How do they know how to do such an amazing task?

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
~William Morris~

 

Luminous reflections

Liquid shadows

Who says shadows need to be hum-drum. Or even dark, for that matter. I discovered these reflections in an old building, where glass tiles threw a shifting pattern of light reflections on a dark brick wall. Their shimmering pattern of light delighted me!

When we get locked into looking at an object in one way, for example, grass is green or the sun is yellow, we really don’t see what is in front of us, all the time.

If at a child’s birth, a mother could ask a fairy godmother
to endow it with the most useful gift,
that gift would be curiosity.

~Eleanor Roosevelt~

Useful trials and errors

Gila Woodpecker Nest

I was walking one morning and discovered in an old sycamore snag, this entrance to a Gila woodpecker nest. The birds are opportunists and will dig out rotten bark to make a soft, protective nest for their young.

What struck me about this opening, though, were the number of false starts that surround it. The bird didn’t immediately say, ah, here, I will build my home. Instead, view the number of beginnings and first attempts that surround it.

Perhaps we should be more like the woodpecker. For each creative endeavor that we try, there will be several tentative jabs and pokes until we find our true stride!

Sculpture is the art of intelligence.
~Pablo Picasso

 

The reality of art

Reality imitating art

The Phoenix Art Museum has a wonderful wing devoted to installation art, modern art, post-modern art. Imagine my surprise when I viewed this picture, looked for the artist’s name, and discovered it wasn’t “art” at all, but rather a shadowed window into the museum loggia. Great fun!

 There’s a saying among prospectors. Go out looking for one thing, and that’s all you’ll find.
~Robert Flaherty, explorer~