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Friday, January 30, 2009

Fossil Hunting

Several months ago my friend Kierra and i went out fossil hunting. This was on land of a friend, Norm, out on Bacculite Mesa near Pueblo, Colorado. It was a cold day and actually started to snow on our way out the long seven miles of dirt road. But it was amazing, out away from the city the horizon stretched out, so much prairie and mesa.

Little swarms of birds flew alongside the car bobbing up and down reminding us of flying fish following a sailing ship. As we approached our friends driveway a herd of horses came galloping out of the snowy canyon to our left and ran alongside the car. They were beautiful and magestic. We stopped by their large water troughs, large galvanized tanks, and broke the ice with axes as Norm had requested we do.

We parked the car and donned our hats, gloves,coats and backpacks and headed out into the little canyons which are invisible until you are right up on them. They aren't too deep ranging up to, oh, i'd say about fourteen foot high clay cliffs. it's these clay cliffs which crumble here and there over time due to the freezing and thawing of moisture. Then the rains wash through the canyon and sweep away the dirt leaving interesting fossils on the canyon floor.

It was a fun day, but very cold and we had gotten a late start so we didn't get to do a very extensive hike in the canyon we chose. We did find a few small fossils and some interesting rocks. Kierra found an interesting cluster of clear crystal like formations. My big find of the day was a portion of a nautilus.

At the point we decided to turn around and head back to the car, we ate some cornbread i had made for the day. We left a little cornbread for the birds before leaving.

Later that week, the bean grinder at the coffeehouse went down and we had to replace the grinding teeth. I brought the worn ones home to use in art somehow and set them on my desk. It didn't take long to recognize the simillar sense of curve and line that the grinding teeth and the nautilus fossil had in common. I began to think about the repetition of form in nature, what was it about these things which worked so well in nature and that we as humans so many millions of years later use in our mechanistic attempts at taking care of business. I do not feel we are removed from nature, on the contrary i believe we are another expression of nature . . . and so are our ideas and creations.

I'm still not sure what i'm going to do with either the nautilus fossil or the coffee bean grinder gears. I would love to integrate the two, somehow spotlighting the things they have in common. I'd also love to somehow allude to the passage of deep time and the wonder i have for the repetitive use of recurring forms in nature.

Perhaps i can work them into some wall pieces i'm designing for the Industrial Revolution themed show i have with Randy Wix and Justin Reddick at the Sangre de Cristo Art & Conference Center in 2010.

Time will tell.


  1. Sounds like a really magical place. I'd love to fossil hunt and hike among those canyons with you someday.

  2. I think that we just may do that someday.