Ecotone: Collaborations With the Anonymous

Ecotone: Collaborations With the Anonymous.  Mixed-media paintings,  2014-2018

For a slide show of these paintings, click on the first image and then use the arrows.

An "ecotone" is a region of transition between two biological communities or habitats. We tend to think of towns and cities as the habitat of the human species and the fields and woods of the rural areas as the habitat of wildlife. In reality, however, the boundary between these habitats is not as clearly defined as we percieve it to be. Wildlife of all forms exists along the edges of towns and cities as well as within them. The so-called wasteland of the empty city lot you drive past every day provides a habitat for hundreds of plant species, birds and smaller animals like foxes, rabbits, weasels, toads, snakes, voles, and mice. The train tracks you drive over in towns often have strips of land running down either side which provide relatively undisturbed pathways for wild animals such as coyotes and black bears who traverse large territories. Abandoned factories and other unused buildings, just eye-sores to many, provide habitats for bats, owls, wasps, opposum, skunks and a myriad other small creatures. Rivers lined with old factory buildings, disused power stations and train tracks are home to otters, beavers, mink, dozens of varieties of water birds, as well as fish and other aquatic life. 

These abandoned buildings, wastelands and train tracks are also home to a particular type of artist: the anonymous graffiti painter. Train yards with train cars from all over the country, brick walls of factories, concrete structures lining canals and supporting bridges all provide the canvas for these artists' dynamic, colorfully vibrant and sometimes disturbing works of art. Graffiti artists, while they may sometimes know each other, remain largely anonymous to the general population, just as do the plants, animals and birds that share urban spaces with humans. And like most urbanized animals--bats, mice, snakes, skunks--and like the plant-life we call "weeds," graffiti artists are often seen as pests. But I love the beauty and vitality of the unseen life, in all its many manifestations. In these paintings, I have tried to celebrate the juxtaposed beauty of the invisible and anonymous denizens who live and create in this often-spurned ecotone. I  let the shapes, colors and movement of the photos I've taken of train and wall graffiti suggest which animals I paint.