Friday, October 15, 2010

Abstract Realism in Photography 5: Lake Superior Shore

Photos from the north shore of Lake Superior, at Grand Marais, and at Temperance River State Park, Minnesota, August 2010. These are found photos, things seen when walking along the rock-strewn shore.

The north shore is a mix of glacial erratics and polished stones from when this was a very active volcanic area. There are few sandy beaches, although many of the rivers have small sandbars at their mouths; the beaches are mostly rocks ranging in size from gritty pebbles to fist-sized wave-polished rocks. Some of the stones were weathered to rounded and gouged forms by the glaciers, but on the beaches there is also wave-polishing happening; after all, as a very large inland sea, Lake Superior is large enough to have tides. Many north shore beaches display an incredible mix of color and shape.

The north shore of Superior along the Minnesota coastline, where you see it as a mostly straight line on the map, with terminus at Duluth, was once an active fault, uplifting the Sawtooth Mountains above the lakebed, and volcanoes everywhere. There's a lot of basalt, rhyolite, porphyry, and related rocks. The red and brown colors of many of the stones are from high iron content.

Driftwood, wave-weathered, cedar sticks and curls of aspen bark, litter the beach shingle. Abstract spirals made of natural materials. Most of the patterns and forms we find in art are also to be found in the natural world. The mind of making is the same.

Boulders and cliffs go right to the water's edge at the mouth of the Temperance River, which was named that by the early explorers because it is the only rivermouth on the Minnesota north shore that has no sandbar. The river flows past high cliffs, making cascades of waterfalls in stages down to the deep pools that open past the rocky beach right into the Lake.

On big rock outcrops at the water's edge, there are lots of intrusions into the basalt matrix: ribbons of white quartz, red rhyolite, black obsidian in spots. The red lines passing through the dark grey stone are like inset rivers, compete with pebbles making boulders in their beds.

I sat at one outcrop for an hour on a warm cloudy afternoon, and made a drawing of the red line passing through the grey, like a river.

Red Line (Temperance River State Park, MN, August 2010)

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Blogger Dave King said...

The first image is especially fantastic. I'm drooling over it.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks, Dave. There were a lot of circle and spirals I noticed that day, just walking along and looking down. Patterns repeating.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

Some great object around there and I have to agree with Dave, the first is amazing. Thank you for posting.

7:48 AM  

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