Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Running Buffalo Clover

My visit with Kathy (Branching Out, May 10) made me think about the labeling of my connections with other artists as an art colony.   It is not as though we are officially bound together with a stated desire to work side-by-side. Truthfully, I can't really claim membership in an art colony, because the scene is different for all the "members" involved. Secondly, it seems as though artist colonies often hang their hats heavily on star residents, such as the Wyeths in Bucks County and certainly Monet in Giverny. And thirdly, this collection of artists is not centrally located in one particular place.  No, what I am thinking of has something  more in common with the buffalo traces that cross the Kentucky landscape.That is why Kathy and I began speaking of an Artist Trace to recognize and benefit from the rich presence of artists in our region.
        Buffalo once roamed Kentucky and formed traces, paths that turned into Native American and pioneer trails.  Some of these then turned into the roads we use today. The buffalo were traveling to reach the resources necessary to their survival, such as water and salt. It just so happens that one of the traces is the foundation of US 68 (Buffalo Tracings, March 24.)  Not only did the buffalo shape transportation, they also had an effect on the vegetation. One beneficiary of the roaming buffalo was Running Buffalo Clover.  Trifolium Stoloniferum requires periodic disturbance and an open habitat to thrive, kind of like artists! We need to air out our ideas from time to time, and a mild tramping on the trails probably doesn't hurt either; it helps us grow. This is what coming into contact with other artists can do for us, it helps us put out runners to have a larger presence in our region. Seeing other artists' work keeps our ideas fresh. Hearing criticism, allows us to become stronger by either defending or improving our work. On the other hand, major disturbances, such as paving over a path, would terminate the expansion of Running Buffalo Clover. The lack of buffalo grazing freely has brought this clover to the brink of extinction, just as overly strict ideas about culture inhibits artistic creation.
        At one time, I was thinking that a regional arts organization should exist. However, that would add an extra layer of busy-ness to the lives of artists who are already sacrificing too much time from their primary work of making art.  Now, I believe we should take a page from the buffalo. By working as artists and keeping our sights and minds open to other artists, we help strengthen the way for all artists in the region. May your art flourish along the Artist Trace!

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