Tuesday, August 05, 2008
“Not Seen, Not Heard, But Felt”
Oceans and Seas, The source of Everything Majestic and Full of Life Billions of Years in the Making Separated by the thinnest of Veils, The surface Under Mans (sic) Assault for only a few short years Struggling to absorb all that we give We don’t see the destruction We don’t hear the cries of the creatures of sea No champion to lead the final stand Damage complete almost beyond repair Beautiful Oceans of Life Turned into the cesspools of Death Will be felt by all, for all time. – James Stone
On a recent Saturday, I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peak at a sculpture that will adorn the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Shark Lagoon for at least a year—and longer, if we can find a generous donor willing to buy it and then let us keep it on display.
The sculpture is the creation of James Stone and his business partner Rod Bass, a part-time community college art teacher.
The two men have an interesting way of working together, to create their masterpieces. First, James conjures up a masterpiece, describing it to Rod, who proceeds to put it to paper in order to have sketches to show a potential customers interested in commissioning something interesting; in addition to sculptures, James creates such things as the huge hand-blown-glass chandelier that sat that day on a table at the back of the shop, which is located on the grounds of the San Bernardo Winery in San Diego.
The majority of the work these two produce has ocean themes with conservation messages, and Rod always conducts research to make sure that each sea creature is depicted accurately.
The sculpture that is to be installed in Shark Lagoon sometime this month stands approximately 17 feet tall and is constructed primarily of steel and sculpted and cast glass. Named “Not Seen, Not Heard, But Felt,” the sculpture is James’ statement regarding the effects of man’s carelessness when it comes to the ocean.
A diver for many years, James returned to Grand Cayman Island after not having donned his SCUBA gear in roughly two decades: “I went back and everything was gone,” he said. While acknowledging that some of the reason that the area lacked the abundance of sea life he had seen years earlier was because of climactic changes, he stressed that man certainly is responsible for a portion of the problem.
“Not Seen, Not Heard, But Felt,” depicting the ocean surface and the area below and above it, carries with the important and timely conservation message that James said he was surprised mirrors the that of the Aquarium’s mission to educate people about the importance of protecting our ocean and our planet.
James said he wants his sculpture to make people more aware of what the effects of humankind’s often careless actions are and that our carelessness wreaks havoc on the ocean and its many ecosystems.
Originally selected as one of about 30 “urban trees” in the San Diego Unified Port District’s fourth Urban Tree art contest last year—it was kept on public display for nearly a year along the North Embarcadero of San Diego Bay from Broadway to Laurel Street—the sculpture sustained slight weathering and graffiti damage, so the business partners, along with a student who works with them as an apprentice, are in the throes of restoring it to its original luster. Contest art pieces, selected from some 350 worldwide entries, remain the property of the artists.
I have to say, they’ve cleaned it up really well and at the point in time that I saw it, had re-cemented the base in preparation to add the glass fish that are to adorn it. Awaiting to be added to the sculpture where a number of clear glass fish, laid out on one of the shop’s counters; they will be placed in James’ rendition of a “ghost net.”
Ghost nets are fishing nets made of synthetic fibers that can last for hundreds of years and which are lost by fishermen but continue to catch fish. These eventually die and are eaten by other fish who also get caught in the nets, starting to weight them down until they sink to the ocean floor, where other critters feast on them. When the nets are emptied, they become buoyant once again and float back up to the top, where they catch more fish, and the cycle repeats itself.
The glass fish have dichroic glass on once side, and thus will look ghostlike in the net as the sun shines on them and the dichroic glass becomes a multi-colored prism of sorts. They represent the dead fish caught in the ghost nets.
Also included in the sculpture is a representation of a leaking, corroded metal oil drum and a depiction of the Canadian Destroyer Escort, the Yukon, which was successfully sunk about one mile off the San Diego coast in “Wreck Alley,” an area of artificial reefs that includes at least seven other scuttled ships; before being sunk, all the ships were made safe for divers to enjoy as they explore the diver-friendly area.
James includes the Yukon as a way of showing that while man is causing a lot of problems, we also are doing some good, such as in creating the artificial reefs.
The two artists talk a lot about the need for conservation in general and on saving the ocean, in particular, and they don’t just preach the concept through their art. In addition to talking–and creating–the talk, they also walk the conservation walk, as evidenced by the way they live their lives.
For one thing, they recycle glass and other materials as much as is possible, using bubble wrap until it disintegrates. Then, when what he learned in a class on CO2 emissions led James to find out that the furnaces in which they melted their glass were “gross polluters,” the business partners immediately stopped using them and have vowed to leave them unused until the CO2 problem is resolved and no more excess carbon dioxide enters the ocean, where it causes myriad environmental problems.
Instead, because such furnaces need to remain on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in order to reach and maintain the high temperatures needed to anneal glass, James simply rents furnace “off time” from other artists, using their furnaces when the owners are not.
You can’t miss the conservation messages being broadcast on the airwaves and internet or being reported in our newspapers and magazines nowadays. We are told to do such things as conserve water, use compact fluorescent light bulbs—those squiggly light bulbs also called CFLs—drive less, or use organic fertilizer that does not dump chemicals into our ocean (I use it and find it works better than chemical fertilizers in many ways, starting with staying in the soil rather than running off) … I could go on and on, but then you’d get bored—and overwhelmed–so I won’t.
My best advice to you, as you continue—or start—to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink, is don’t let all the suggestions of ways you can help reduce or reverse global climate change get you frustrated and thinking that you just can’t do it all. You don’t have to do everything and, frankly, some things are outside of the financial resources of many, like retrofitting a home with solar panels or buying a hybrid vehicle.
However, if each of us does one or two things, even, like using re-useable bags for our groceries and other purchases, we WOULD be making a difference.
So if you haven’t done anything yet, won’t you start now? And if you do, remember to keep it up and add to it if you can, as well as remind those who are not doing anything to help to get on the conservation bandwagon (Believe you me, those people exist!) because this is a very necessary thing to do in order to help save our planet, and ourselves!
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