Sunday, May 8, 2011

Springfield, Yellow Springs, and the Great Serpent Mound, Ohio

The semester ends and summer break begins with a brief road trip to Ohio to visit James and Tanya and finally (after four years) see the Great Serpent Mound. First, two objects featured previously on this blog: a robin's egg Tanya found which she then displayed in an eyeglass washer...

... and a balloon near the Underdog Cafe in Yellow Springs where James is showing Suginami.

Highlights of the opening: seeing James' beautiful prints again, edamame and hummus, learning a new word ("kaboomzie" when a trashcan was knocked over), and applying the Komar and Melamid approach on polling what people would like most to see in paintings to wines (animal labels = number one choice). After the opening, The Winds Cafe was next on the list = numerous small plates of excellent food: fried oysters, the cheese service, stuffed calamari, asparagus aillade, Italian Spidini with Bagna Cauda, and salmon with black pasta. "Stuffed" was the key word of the evening. On the way out, we spotted the best cow and barn painting in the Midwest:

After a Derby Day party at the house of one of Tanya's colleagues, we came back to the apartment and discussed James' new purchase: the 8x10 camera! My assignment is to make a work of art in response to the authors of the three books in the foreground: Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Joseph Beuys, and Wolfgang Laib.

This morning we ventured south to the Great Serpent Mound. It is located in a beautiful part of Ohio that reminded us of several other areas of the US: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Vermont. Lots of brick houses, soggy ground due to all the rain, rolling hills, grazing cows, and brown water. Roughly two hours later, we arrived at the Serpent Mound Museum to see a couple dioramas that caught our eye (this one due to the creepy factor). The inside of an Adena Burial Mound:

Imagine the three people below as James, Tanya, and JR at the serpent's mouth which could be swallowing an egg (partially unearthed to show something resembling jelly beans):

It was a beautiful day and it truly felt like spring (70 degrees, no rain, birds singing, the foliage mostly out). Here is the view from the top of the observation tower.

It was far smaller than I anticipated (only 1/4 mile long and only three feet tall at the highest point). There were signs everywhere pointing in the direction of the summer and winter solstices and minimum and maximum moon rises. I became acutely aware how little I know about astronomy despite taking a class in undergraduate school.

There is one area at the snake's coil where there is a paved path over the top of the earthwork where one can cross over it. It is so tempting to climb on top of the mound or at the very least, lie in the grass alongside it. This area briefly satisfied the need to walk on it:

"Please keep off earthworks" is a sign I never saw at Spiral Jetty, Sun Tunnels, Double Negative, etc. At the coil or end of the line:

JR looking confused (photograph by Tanya):

I finally saw one of the greatest early earthworks in North America built by the Fort Ancient culture. At approximately 1300 feet, it's slightly shorter than Spiral Jetty but nonetheless, impressive! It is thrilling to see as it inspired so many contemporary artists like Maya Lin's Wave Field and Michael Heizer's Effigy Tumuli. I am behind on the next round of postcards for the mass exchange. I'm thinking of doing something associated with this trip. In the meantime, REMEMBER:


  1. Went to the serpent mound last summer, and I love. love. the mini-museum attached.

  2. The dioramas are one of a kind!


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