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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Whimsical 'Found Art' of Remote Baker, Nevada

Meet Barb Wire

All Images Copyright by Tom Debley, 2011
All Rights Reserved

This blog post celebrates the "found art" of Baker, Nevada. Baker has a population of 68. And its "Post" Impression "art gallery" is a wide-open spaces collection of works on Highway 488, the five-mile-long road that leads into Great Basin National Park from Baker. Okay, it’s not really an art galley. It’s a whimsical collection of "found art" that is literally scattered along Highway 488 in the high desert of far eastern Nevada, often on fence posts.

According to various sources, it all began in 1997.  It is said a man named “Doc” Sherman of Baker, partially paralyzed by a crippling stroke, found artistic endeavors were amazing therapy. The first work in the “gallery” was his “Permanent Wave,” a plaster-filled glove mounted on a fence post. The idea caught on and, if you can an eye out, you can spot any number of castoffs that have turned one person’s junk into another person’s art as property owners have taken up the fanciful task of creating “Post" Impression art, the post referring to the fencepost that held Doc’s early work.

I never spotted Doc’s “Permanent Wave,” but found numerous other fence posts, fences and fields decorated by named and unnamed pieces of art by fun-loving residents.

Here’s “Too Tall Tony,” for instance, whose grave can’t hold him.

Nearby is the skeleton of an unnamed denizen presumably rising from another grave?

Of course, you want to be sure to meet       
Barb and Bob Wire along the roadside.       

Then there is the alien head
in his (her?) current headgear.
In photos a few years back, this
alien wore a National Park
Service ranger hat.

O-1 is another alien figure, presumably named for the O-1 visa” that is a temporary work visa available to aliens who have “extraordinary abilities.”

Don't miss the 1918 Essex: "Horse with No Mane."


“Anywhere But Here” features a man whose face is made from an old “Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine.”

This one causes headaches trying to figure out the pun.  The figure is "washing a ton," thus a title of "Washington."

Okay, this guy is untitled, but it is clear he is manning his post. Note a fresh bullet hole at the center of the base.

 Jet ski? I dunno.

Hmmmmm.  Again, I dunno.

"Lamp Post?"  But what’s the chimney-like thing about?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Wondrous Jelly Fish of Monterey Bay Aquarium

All Images Copyright by Tom Debley, 2011
All Rights Reserved
Among the strange and captivating animals at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – or any aquarium around the word – are the jellies.  They are 95 percent water.  They have no bones, no blood, no teeth.  But they thrive in our oceans.

So I decided to spend some of my time at Monterey Bay Aquarium recently photographing these magnificent critters, learning a little bit about them, and, now, sharing my results here.

First is the Purple-striped jelly, or Chrysaora colorata, found in Monterey Bay, somewhat inexplicably I might add.  As described by the aquarium folks, “In certain seasons, they mysteriously appear near the shores of Monterey.” Cool facts from the Aquarium are these:

  • “The purple-striped jelly’s lifecycle was first discovered in its entirety at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • “How does a jelly move? The bell pulses to move short distances—to go farther a jelly rides the current.
  • “Since divers have seen ocean sunfish eating these jellies, we know some fishes must be immune to the sting.”

A second variety that I found fascinating was the Moon jelly, or Aurelia labiata. Some people think they look like alien creatures.  I think they are angelic little parachutes in the water with fine fringe instead of trailing tentacles of other varieties.
One of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “cool facts” about the Moon jelly was this: “Although they didn’t get to the moon, nearly 2,500 moon jelly polyps and ephyrae – two early stages in the jelly life cycle – went into orbit aboard the space shuttle Columbia in May 1991. They were part of a study on the effects of weightlessness on development of internal organs in juvenile jellies."

Finally, I took photographs of the Sea Nettle Jelly, or Chrysaora fuscescens. There may be a common belief among some that jellies sting, but not all do.

The Sea Nettle, however, is one of the ones that do.  The long tentacles and frilly mouth-arms are covered with cells that sting when they touch any prey.  These cells paralyze the prey and stick tight to it so the jelly can consume it. Prey include young pollock, larval fishes, zooplankton and other jellies