Ithaca culture: Apple Fest, Burns Sisters

One of the great things about living outside a college town is the vibrant culture. This weekend was the Ithaca Apple Festival. The Commons (a product of ’70s revitalization efforts) had food, fun and live music all weekend. A favorite stop every year is a booth organized by our Department of Horticulture grad students raising money by selling apples, cider and pawpaws and raffling off a giant pumpkin. (Note to Chad: Don’t forget pawpaw trees next year.)

grad student booth at apple fest

I love the scrap iron pony. Similar sculptures (recycling at its best) are scattered around the Commons and downtown.

Friday night, Air America Radio host (and frequent commentator on to Keith Olbermann’s Countdown and other new programs) Rachel Maddow brought her radio show to Ithaca’s State Theater. Rachel frequently features politically active artists and musicians on her program. So it was no surprise that local favorites The Burns Sisters performed this song at the show. (This version from the 2006 Philly Folk Festiva.)

Apple Festival. Scrap iron ponies. Burns Sisters. There’s hope for this world.


grasses sunday morning

Pam/Digging inspired me with her post Early Fall Grasses. That focused me (mostly) on shooting grasses Sunday morning.

They’re at their best morning and evening when the sun is low, and provide different viewing experiences depending on your perspective, for example looking into the sun (above) or with the sun at your back (below).

grasses, sun at back

They’re easier to shoot in the morning before the wind picks up and puts them in motion. (See videos.)

I didn’t think I’d like this variegated miscanthus when I planted it. It’s now my favorite. It’s backed by M. sinensis ‘Gracimillus’.

variegated miscanthus

I’m always amazed how red Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ gets, here bent over in the dew.


Another favorite that I incorrectly identified as Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ in a previous post. (Sorry Kim.) It’s either ‘Dallas Blues’ or possibly ‘Cloud Nine’ according to my less than adequate records.


And a close-up of the seedheads:


Molinia ‘Skyracer’ is a little slow to get going, mostly because I have it too close to some Eupatoriums that shade it some.

molinia skyracer

A ‘blonde’ sedge in the water garden, and Miscanthus floridulus blocking the traffic from the road.

molinia skyracermiscanthus floridulus

It’s been a pretty good year for the M. floridulus. It’s about 12 feet tall and hasn’t flowered yet. It’s flowered a couple times in the half dozen years I’ve had it. It’s not as strong as bamboo. But I use it for wattles and pea trellis (in conjunction with metal fenceposts and woven wire).

miscanthus floridulus

I don’t have an ID on this grass. But I show it because I like the way that the thunbergia has overrun the trellis next to it and has formed a close pairing with the grass.

grass and thunbergia

And one last morning shot …

grass and thunbergia

Running the Numbers

Via Crooks and Liars, Running the Numbers – An American Self-Portrait featuring digital art by Chris Jordan.

chris jordan pontillist style

The artist’s statement explains it all:

This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) [the image above] and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. My underlying desire is to affirm and sanctify the crucial role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned.

Also recommended, Jordan’s two other online exhibits: Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption and In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss From an Unnatural Disaster.