Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mid (to late?) Summer at Prairie Hill Farm

Big Bluestem in flower at the Prairie Hill Farm Prairie
(still image taken from "Mid Summer at Prairie Hill Farm" video)
image © Bruce A. Morrison
This is a repost from the studio blog today, but this really fits the Tallgrass Journal blog much better I think! 
Its really past what I'd consider "mid" summer here on the prairie now, but there is about a month of summer left to enjoy yet!  We had one nasty storm just two days ago and were very fortunate that we only lost a couple trees and gained a mess in the landscape with shredded leaves and plants...didn't do the gardens any good either.

I don't think the small prairie here will look too great the rest of the summer but think that "close-up" you may not be too disappointed.  I decided to put together an 8 minute video (long for me) of the prairie here before the storm (some footage the day before), much of which was compiled "mid" summer. 

(If you get this blog via e-mail subscription, you may not see the embedded video and will have to follow the link to view.)

I'm hoping to make this video part of the "From the Tallgrass" exhibit at Arts on Grand - at the Artist's Reception tonight!  One last plug!  :)  5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. - hope to see you there!  The exhibit runs through September 25th so if you can't make the reception, you'll have nearly the "rest of the summer" to make it!

You can go online and view "Mid Summer at Prairie Hill Farm" here - (the HD version is much more fun to watch on you tube any way!)...

Hope to see you on the Tallgrass!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

From the Tallgrass - the First Exhibition

Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) at the Prairie Hill Farm Prairie
Photograph © Bruce A. Morrison

How's the prairie where you are right now?!  The native pasture here is transitioning from mid summer to late.  The goldenrods are just beginning to tinge with blossoming, the False Boneset is in bloom, the asters are showing signs of awakening, the warm season grasses are either all in bloom or just finishing that stage.  
The season is progressing!  I sure hate to see things move this fast; wouldn't it be great to put the brakes on for a bit?!!  One thing I really appreciate this time of year is the insects and their music.  The Katydids are really making the afternoon and evenings seem alive!  The Robber Flies are out now again, making their raids through the grasses.  This is a banner grasshopper year here so hope the Robber Flies concentrate there some.  I've been hoping to video tape Monarchs depositing their eggs on the milkweed here...I haven't succeeded yet but have witnessed the "deed"...they're just too quick about it!  I'll get lucky one of these days.
"From the Tallgrass", an exhibit of paintings, drawings and photography of the Tallgrass Prairie opens on Tuesday, August 16th next week!  I'm both excited and nervous but I think that comes from spending all your time in the tallgrass and not enough around other homo sapiens!  OK, thats a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it has been a long time since I went solo in an exhibit.  Most of the last few weeks has been completely devoted to framing, re-framing, and all the other things that figure into something like this...there is so much more to it than meets the eye.

The prairie is the subject matter of course, and the prairie has been going great guns this summer - very hard to keep up!!!  I think once we get the show hung in a few days, I need to step back onto the prairie and see what I've been missing these past weeks!!!

The Exhibit "From the Tallgrass" runs through September 25th.  There will be an artist's reception on August 25th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  The exhibit is at Arts on Grand in Spencer, Iowa.  You can always give them a call, should you have any questions, at (712) 262-4307; they're open Tuesday through Saturday!

Hope to get to see and talk with you at the reception on the 25th (last Thursday in August)!  If not, please try and get over to Arts on Grand to see the show!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Prairie Cantabile

"Prairie Cantabile"  Painted Violin 
(casein on applied canvas)
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

This will be a double post from my studio relates "esthetically" to the prairie at least, and I'd like to get the word out about "From the Tallgrass", a solo exhibit celebrating the Tallgrass Prairie.

Not many folks have seen the painted violin I did several years ago, for a fund raiser to benefit the NW Iowa Symphony Orchestra.  I have a solo exhibit coming up at Arts on Grand in Spencer, Iowa, in a couple weeks and this piece will be there.  The buyers have agreed to let me show the piece once again and I will honestly say I am still taken aback by it...I can't believe how nice is looks, I'm extremely proud of this piece!  It was my first attempt with Casein as a painting medium...casein is extremely permanent...I believe it is one of the earliest painting medias in use today.

"Cantabile" is from the Italian meaning "worthy to be sung".  I sing praises of the prairie in all my works; what more aptly fits than this title for this work?!!  The back of the violin depicts the prairie as a landscape, the front of the piece celebrates the prairie "up front" and close-up.

From the Tallgrass" is the title of this solo exhibit.  It opens August 16 and runs through September 25th.  There will be an "Artist's Reception" on Thursday the 25th, from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.  Please come and enjoy this exhibit devoted to our region's natural and cultural heritage!

I may refer to "From the Tallgrass" once or twice more this month...hope you can make it to Spencer during the show! 

See you on the Tallgrass!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Piece by Piece

Waterman Prairie - Cherokee County

I recently photographed on a new acquisition of multiple organizations: the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, The Iowa Nature Conservancy and the Iowa DNR.  Thankfully this could not have been done without the willingness and help from the private land owners.  

 Waterman Prairie - Cherokee County...along the
Little Sioux River valley corridor

This is an addition to the Waterman Prairie Complex that is south of us in O'Brien County - except now it includes Cherokee County!  The 60 acre parcel is only a drop in the proverbial bucket but every little niche helps the overall picture.  Waterman Prairie is in the Little Sioux Valley and this valley has been identified as the last important "interior" corridor remnant of the tallgrass prairie in Iowa.  The Nature Conservancy and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation have been working to preserve remnants of the prairie here; an attempt to piece together a "corridor", or may be more simply put as "connecting the dots".  As more parcels are preserved, more pieces of the puzzle are once again intact.

 female Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) at the Cherokee Waterman Prairie site

I did find some very good stands of native grasses, especially June Grass...don't believe I've seen so much in one location before? Other native grasses seemed abundant here and there but the former use of this as pasture ground shows a very large presence of Brome.  But its the strategic placement of this tract and its size that is important for the fauna that is in desperate need of habitat!  The Grasshopper Sparrow for instance - I was hearing quite a few Grasshopper Sparrows here; these grassland obligates are in real need of habitat...they require large tracts and you just will not find them along roadside plantings and such.  One thing in their favor here is the surrounding private tracts are also hillside pasture.  Other grassland birds present here during my walk were Sedge Wrens, Dickcissels, Field Sparrows, and Bobolinks.

Hats off to these great organizations and private citizens that support them and who work with them for additions to our natural heritage!  Check these organizations out - they are worth your time and consideration too!

Hope to see ya on the Tallgrass!