EXHIBITION OPENING AT THE FRANKLIN SQUARE GALLERY, HANOVER THEATER, JUNE 27, 6 – 8PM. ARTIST TALK AT 6:15. REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED!
I’m happy to report that an exhibition of my work from the Blackstone River will be opening at the Franklin Square Gallery at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, Massachusetts on June 27. The exhibition is produced by ArtsWorcester and I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity.
The exhibition works were taken along the Blackstone River Bikeway, in Millbury and Worcester, Massachusetts. The Bikeway, which is an even better walking trail, was created during Worcester’s “Little Dig,” i.e. the reconstruction of Route 146, around 2000. I have been fascinated by the anxious beauty there since I first explored the Path in 2013. One can see the interaction of the River, the highway and the railroad, and society in the context of an urban park.
The River is both beautiful and long suffering. The bikeway was created as part of an effort to celebrate and restore the River through the establishment of the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor. The Blackstone has enormous historical significance as the engine of entrepreneurship in the new United States in the late 1700’s. Enormous wealth was created, thousands were employed, but the River was taken for granted. As I’ve described here previously, the River became one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Now, many folks are trying to help the River and the surrounding areas, but it’s tough going. I hope the exhibition contributes to raising awareness of the hidden beauty of the River even in this seemingly hostile environment, celebrating the work that’s gone into trying to help the River and at the same time demonstrating the ever present possibility that we could take our environment for granted at any moment.
I have visited this spot a number of times and always found it compelling. I’ve decided to take up the Blackstone River as a project, to explore it’s story and its visual presentation. I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s 48 miles long or so, starts in Worcester Massachusetts, right in the middle of the city, and ends up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It’s been called one of the most polluted rivers in the country, which is a artifact of it’s history as the home of the first successful cotton mill, and many many subsequent factories powered by its water. History isn’t the only problem, however. Communities along the River, including evidently Worcester (though someone can correct me if I am wrong) have long used the River as a way to dispose of waste water post treatment. That problem is being addressed at this point, but it took an act of Congress (literally) to get things started. Even though it’s gotten a bit cleaner, you aren’t supposed swim in this river, let alone drink from it. It represents what we have left of our planet. This is about the interaction of humanity and nature. Nature is still there, but it is a contentious situation. We began at the Blackstone River Bike Path in Worcester, walked first back toward the city, and then reversed our tracks and headed toward Millbury. It was a lovely day it turns out, though initially a bit cold. Here are some samples of what we saw.
This is Route 146. The bikeway wraps around the River and under the Highway above. Providing the public an opportunity to access the River here was a great idea. But this is an urban landscape, to be sure.
That does not make it any less appealing, however.
These falls deserved an extra shot for obvious reasons.
Nature has a way of fighting with the footprint of our society, even if it is just through a leak.
I did not offer an Earth Day greeting this year. The crazy and very anti-scientific debate around the environment in Washington may have gotten the better of me. I’ll offer one now to those volunteers who try to keep places like this reasonably inviting. Thank you.
Tech Note: It wasn’t sunny out there but it was fairly bright. Some of the shots taken underneath the highway would have in times past required HDR (High Dynamic Range) technique which involves the merging of several images, bracketed to Over, Normal and Under exposure of the image to capture the full range of tones, The incredible contrast between the shadows under the highway and the bright though cloudy day outside of those shadows used to be practically impossible to photograph in one image. No more. The incredible sensors coming out of Nikon and Sony make it possible with one click. I am amazed. I was ready to do some HDR work and took the images that would have been required for it, but it just wasn’t necessary.