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Posts Tagged ‘dolphin sculpture’

On Sunday, I got to the Peabody Essex Museum early and decided to walk around Salem before going in to see the Thomas Hart Bentons. I thought I might take a look at the hotel where I stayed when DeAnna and Mairtin got married.

I hadn’t gone very far when what should I spy but some very strange constructions made of sticks. Turns out the sculptures, by Patrick Dougherty, were also a PEM exhibition: “Stickwork.”

From Dougherty’s website: “Born in Oklahoma in 1945, Dougherty was raised in North Carolina. He earned a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina in 1967 and an M.A. in Hospital and Health Administration from the University of Iowa in 1969. Later, he returned to the University of North Carolina to study art history and sculpture.

“Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick began to learn more about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. In 1982 his first work, Maple Body Wrap, was included in the North Carolina Biennial Artists’ Exhibition, sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art. In the following year, he had his first one-person show entitled, ‘Waitin’ It Out,’ in Maple at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“His work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental scale environmental works, which required saplings by the truckloads. Over the last thirty years, he has built over 250 of these works, and become internationally acclaimed. His sculpture has been seen worldwide—from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States.” More at http://www.stickwork.net.

Aren’t artists something? They just follow where it leads. Nobody gets them into windowless rooms to discuss strategy, goals, subgoals, benchmarks, measures, or evaluation.

Although, I suppose, if Dougherty started out in hospital management, he was subjected to lots of that sort of thing.

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071215-Pat-Dougherty-Stickwork-Salem

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As a longtime believer in “one and one and 50 make a million,” I am not surprised to learn that some big environmental problems are being successfully tackled through small-dollar grants.

Karen Weintraub writes at the NY Times, “In Pakistan and India, the blind Indus River dolphin, one of the most endangered species, swims a shrinking stretch of water, trapped by development and dams. …

“Overfishing, habitat loss and pollution threaten species in so many places that research and conservation organizations cannot do all that is needed. So, with the aim of making a dent through small, targeted efforts, the New England Aquarium, which sits on Boston’s downtown waterfront, has for 15 years awarded microgrants to projects across the globe. …

“The aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund has paid out $700,000 since 1999, supporting 122 projects in 40 countries on six continents. Elizabeth Stephenson, the fund’s manager, calls these projects ‘stories of hope for the ocean.’

“The grants are modest. One researcher, Rohan Arthur, used his $6,700 payout from the fund to buy a ‘secondhand, beat-up compressor’ to fill his scuba tanks. But the support allowed him to maintain his critical assessment of coral reefs in the Arabian Sea off the west coast of India.

“Dr. Arthur, a senior scientist at the Nature Conservation Foundation in Karnataka, India, said that in some ways, he preferred the scale of the New England Aquarium gifts. …

“Small grants, he said, offer more freedom, but can still be transformative. …

“Gill Braulik, a dolphin expert based in Tanzania, used a … grant in 2011 to teach Pakistani scientists to take over her research on a blind dolphin species that lives only in the Indus River. …

“In 2011, a $6,000 aquarium grant allowed her to train the local researchers in complex survey methods and analysis. Now, two groups of local scientists have led the work. ‘They really don’t need me anymore,’ she said.”

Read more here.

Photo: Gill Braulik
Najam Ul-Huda Khan, left, interviews village elders about sightings of Indus River dolphins. 

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Some days I walk in Boston and snap the sights down side streets. The first photo was taken near the harbor. The others were taken near Downtown Crossing.

I like the Adrienne Rich line painted on a bookstore wall: “You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.”

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