Art, Boyes Hot Springs, History, nature

Neighborhood Phenomena

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Strawberries among the weeds, in concrete, Boyes Hot Springs, 2019

NEIGHBORHOOD PHENOMENA

With thanks to artist Jack Baker

One of the main objects of the Springs Museum is the study of Neighborhood Phenomena.

Perhaps not to define it to precisely is best. However, we can say that NP may be exceptional things or mundane things seen in an exceptional way. Collecting (and it is an exercise in collecting) NP is an act of noticing, something that it is all to easy not to do in an environment that is so familiar as we pass through it daily.

Photography is a good mode for collecting NP, as is sketching, sound recording, rubbings, or actually picking up objects (but try not to disturb the environment. Observers should limit their impact on the world being observed.) Study over time is of interest, so repeated visits to sites are encouraged.

Here is a list of some of the possible categories to look at.

How trees and built environment interact

Signs. What they say, how they change.

Pavement and how is deteriorates.

Plants in all their many different forms

Animals among us, including pets

Infrastructure such as wires, drains, etc.

Design-everything built is designed, if only by default

Holes in the ground

Mounds of things

Stories

Further Inspiration: Artists as collectors. Collections as art:

“The mission of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is to inspire wonder, discovery and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.”

“Including those items is part of the museum’s effort at redefinition, although the curators were drawing on an eccentric set of collections that were never really part of the natural history tradition. The facade of the building still bears its original title: Los Angeles County Historical and Art Museum. In fact, the art collection became the heart of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the early 1960s, when the “natural history” title was adopted.”

“It all adds up to a reminder that, even as the art historians have been slowly trying to squeeze the history out of their discipline, artists have been assiduously turning themselves into historians, archivists, even collectors of a sort.” Barry Schwabsky, the Nation April 2014

 

“As Ellen Dissanayake has observed, the function of art is to “make special”; as such, it can raise the “special” qualities of place embedded in everyday life, restoring them to those who created them…”

“A starting point, for artists or for anyone else, might be simply learning to look around where you live now…”

“Psychologist Tony Hiss asks us to measure our closeness to neighbors and community and suggests ways to develop an “experiential watchfulness” over our regional “sweet spots,” or favorite places. Seeing how they change at different times of day, week and year can stimulate local activism…”

Quotes from The Lure of the Local, Lucy R. Lippard

 

The collection, and, by extension, the museum is a work of art:

“Bottle Village began as a practical need to build a structure to store Grandma Prisbrey’s pencil collection (which eventually numbered 17,000) and a bottle wall to keep away the smell and dust from the adjacent turkey farm. However, it was her ability to have fun and infuse wit and whimsy into what she made, which over time became the essence of Bottle Village. Practicality alone would not explain The Leaning Tower of Bottle Village, the Dolls Head Shrine, car-headlight-bird-baths, and the intravenous-feeding-tube-firescreen, a few examples of her delightfully idiosyncratic creations.” From the Bottle Village website. http://www.bottlevillage.com/

17,000 Pencils!

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nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Uncategorized

Wild Artichokes

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Corner of Sunnyside Ave. and Highway 12

For lovers of the prickly vegetable, the presence of groves of wild artichokes, as we have in the Valley of the Moon, might seem like an indication of paradise. In addition to being delicious, artichoke flowers are beautiful, fragrant, and attract bees.

However, the wild cynara carduncula is a fearsome invasive plant.

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Vacant lot at Sunnyside Ave.

According to the California Invasive Plant Council, the thistle was probably imported from Europe in the early 19th century as a food plant. It becomes invasive when it escapes cultivation and begins to reproduce from seed. Darwin found it growing in the Argentine pampas in 1889 in an area of “hundreds of square miles.”

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The growing artichoke “forest” in the lot at Sunnyside

At its worst, the “edible thistle” forms thickets that are impenetrable by humans or animals and that shade out native plants. As they develop tap roots eight feet deep and produce seed banks that endure for five years, they are very difficult to control.

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More info at this link:

https://www.cal-ipc.org/resources/library/publications/ipcw/report38/

 

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Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Uncategorized

Calendula

UPDATE!

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Medicinal Calendula has hit the mainstream (Rite Aid.)

Very early spring 2018, the little calendula are filling many of the open spaces in Sonoma Valley. Some folks think it’s a weed, others love it.

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Fifth Street West, Sonoma

 

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Central Ave. Boyes Hot Springs

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Central Ave. Boyes Hot Springs

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Photo by author

 

Is it a weed?

“Calendula (probably arvensis, but there is a larger flowered officianalis) is listed on Cal Flora as non-native to our area but not invasive. So it depends on your definition of a weed: any non-native, or the ones that most upset biodiversity? I don’t mind them; they’re pretty and have some medicinal uses. Since they tend to grow in disturbed and/or agricultural areas, no one knows for certain what grew there in the first place, so planting something else with the goal of restoration would involve some guesswork.” Hannah Aclufi via Facebook

According to Wikipedia:

A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, “a plant in the wrong place”. 

Examples commonly are plants unwanted in human-controlled settings, such as farm fieldsgardenslawns, and parksTaxonomically, the term “weed” has no botanical significance, because a plant that is a weed in one context is not a weed when growing in a situation where it is in fact wanted, and where one species of plant is a valuable crop plant, another species in the same genus might be a serious weed, such as a wild bramble growing among cultivated loganberries. In the same way, volunteer crops (plants) are regarded as weeds in a subsequent crop.

Many plants that people widely regard as weeds also are intentionally grown in gardens and other cultivated settings, in which case they are sometimes called beneficial weeds.

These little plants tend to inhabit waste spaces, roadsides, and untended open fields. They will grow in gardens, but are easily removed and are not aggressively spreading, like oxalis or dandelions.

So there can be a differing of opinion.

The term weed also is applied to any plant that grows or reproduces aggressively, or is invasive outside its native habitat.[1] More broadly “weed” occasionally is applied pejoratively to species outside the plant kingdom, species that can survive in diverse environments and reproduce quickly; in this sense it has even been applied to humans.[2]

So, let’s not get up on our high horses when deciding what is a weed or what isn’t. Humans are a weed species, but there are some benefits to our existence!

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Fifth Street West, Sonoma

 

Calendula have medicinal uses as a remedy for skin problems as well as an anti-inflammatory.

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And, on a taxinomical note:

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From the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database, http://www.itis.gov

 

“There is a lot of magic in the naming of things. It is my contention that the more we know about nature’s secrets, the more we can enjoy it. Simply being able to call the elements of nature by their proper names helps us to experience them and allows their beauty to unfold…” Obi Kaufmann, The California Field Atlas.

“I find the Latin names for the plants as beautiful as the plants themselves … “ Wyethia Angustifolia (Hannah Aclufi) https://viridiplantae.com/about/

 

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