KESTERSON DAM
For inspiration, in the mid 1990's, I read newspapers daily. One story started me on a path of exploring how to express the emotionally charged topic of the demise of the Kesterson Dam and its inhabitants. The San Jose Mercury News ran a week long column about the California Central Valley area around Kesterson Dam. In the valley, the run off from pesticides drained into the aquaphere and polluted the dam which was a popular nesting site for migratory birds. The pollution plumed under the land and negatively affected the surrounding cattle and sheep ranches. Problems were first identified at the dam when the shells of bird's eggs were too thin for baby birds to survive. Then, people in the area complained of health problems and their animals became ill and died. Many people had to move away from their family homesteads. Cannons were shot frequently every day to keep the birds out of the water. Those ranchers who did not move were barraged with the impossible cannon roars. Finally, the water was drained from the dam and the land was quiet.

The paintings became a surreal landscape of the marsh, rolling hills, animals, people and sounds surrounding the dam. I was distraught by the news. The anger and helplessness I felt to have any effect on the situation resulted in my throwing razor blades and other rude objects into the paintings. There are images of birds being hung on a noose and a man holding a dying lamb.

There is a fury in these paintings that disturb some and incite empathy in others. All the paintings were sold except the View from Mr. Green's House which was only exhibited in my studio. One of the paintings, Nike at the End of the World, was sold to Yuki Shitara from Japan. She said the paintings were loud and she could hear noisy animal sounds. Her statement expresses what I felt when creating these paintings.

Click a picture for a close-up view.
The Ranch
THE RANCH
oil on paper
40" x 50"
Series #1
SERIES #1
oil and mixed
media on paper
40" x 50"
Series #2
SERIES #2
mixed media on paper
 
Asorka's Vision
ABSORKA'S VISION
oil on paper
The View from Mr. Green's House
THE VIEW FROM
MR. GREEN'S HOUSE
The Marsh
THE MARSH
oil on paper
40" x 50"
Nike at the End of the World
NIKE AT THE END
OF THE WORLD
22" x 30"