03 January 2020

Speleox

Like the otherworldly biom of the Sky Islands in Southern Arizona, there is another world underground. Thinking about the natural world under our feet, I was inspired by Kartchner Carverns. By happenstance, I was hired to my year-old creative director job by Gary Tenen, co-discoverer and protector of the caverns that eventually became a state park.

The bat seemed a natural fit for this piece. Nesting below ground and hunting outside, no one is more aware of the advantages of cave life in the desert than the bat. Listening to recordings of it's high frequency echo locations, I felt some grunge. Flying through the choppy sound waves to navigate its way through cave chambers and out into the open air, the bat not only helps control insect populations but is integral in the pollination of desert plants.

My aim with these prints are to collect them into a book, "Codex Sonora." My next print will be a map of the Sonoran Desert and then I'll spend the next year working on the cover, text and layout of the book. I'm excited to finally make a book since starting this series in 2015, then it will be onto Volume 2!


13 July 2019

Published in Adventure Journal

Earlier this year I was contacted by Adventure Journal to license a few of my pieces for an article about Baboquivari written by Alaskan writer and mountaineer David Stevenson. I was honored. This quality publication has a good subscription base, is printed and bound with good paper and has lovely layout. The whole process was a breeze and I would hope to work with these professionals again some day.


Apidaex

The last ice age pushed into the Sonoran desert and pushed out the Saguaro cactus and the Ironwood trees down to the middle of Mexico and replaced by Juniper forests and giant sloths. When the cold receded, the Saguaro came back to Arizona thousands of years faster than the Ironwood. Why? Birds. Birds can migrate hundreds or thousands of miles pooping seeds from the Saguaro fruit along the way. Ironwood seeds are eaten and pooped out by pack rats. Pack rats have small domains of a mile or more.

But first, plants need pollinators. In the desert these are bats, insects, and bees. They are genetic networkers for the plants they forage. They will forage up to 4 miles away and periodically, the whole hive will strike out and find a new place to resettle. Which makes me think of computer networks and networking software, site visits (like to a blog), and social media.

Insects with a queen are really one organism. Grouped together, I image a hive to be the size of a small dog. A small dog with 10,000 stingers. I've encountered a hive on the move while on the trail. I heard them before I saw them. I always give them space and respect because they can be aggressive. Our bees down here are Africanized, Africanized hybrids, aggressive, but are immune to the fungus that's killing bees elsewhere.




29 June 2019

Bought a H3 3.7L Hummer

I've wanted a 4x4 since I could walk and talk. For the last few years I've been a passenger on off-road trips, packing light and doing dishes to appease my drivers. Every trip I'd say "I'm going to get a vehicle soon... Almost got the money."  But a Hummer?

I used to make fun of these things for a good reason. Huge, difficult to park, sucks gas, lots of plastic pieces creating a useless macho design statement. I think Hummer got the message too and made the H3. It's a smaller, more manageable machine that may see 300k in it's lifetime with a mpg of 18-22 (owner claimed). I bought this so I could enjoy the backroads of Arizona where I've lived for 20yrs and not seen half of. I think I've camped in Mexico more. Yes it's for family trips and off-road camping, no it won't be commuting.  Our Scion XB is our urban go-cart with great longevity and gas mileage for everything else.

I bought it for 10K with 134,000 miles on it. It's not as bouldery as a Jeep Rubicon, not as zippy as a Toyota FJ Cruiser but it's larger and gets better gas mileage. Some motor heads compare it to the International Scout as an oddball that will eventually be collectable. In my research, I find it to be misunderstood. Perfect for Jane and I. We do get some looks when we step out of it.

As someone who's lived life low, buying a bargain house, and keeping expenses down so I can have a creative life and job, this is probably the most luxurious thing I own. I'll be hitting the backroads of the west with heated leather seats, and a sunroof, you know, to let sun in (it's 109F today).




21 May 2019

Peregrix

The Peregrine falcon is a wide-ranging species and a seasonal migrator, but the Sonoran desert is one place it breeds and calls home all year round. I have some nesting near my office, and at break time in the back when the wind is flowing over the Tucson Mountains, one of them might kite slow and low over me to take a look. Then there's that sound effect Hollywood is so fond of.

Out in the desert, circling in long slow arcs among rock towers and dodging dust devils, birds have a different spacial reality than we do — especially the strong fliers of the predatory world. Looking up at them, we're like the bottom feeders of the sky sea.

In this piece, I was thinking about the layers of air being like floors in a multistory building. I see birds cruising for prey, but sometimes I see them way up there on the top floor, far beyond hunting zones, watching the curvature of the earth and soaring smoothly on thermals.


17 February 2019

Javelinix

The first time I heard of the javelina was during a horseback ride when the trail guide started describing a vicious black pig of the desert that would attack cattle and horses. The first time I saw a javelina he saw me and ran away. The second time I saw a javelina was in a parking lot. He was wandering around the cars and sniffing around trash cans.

Since those encounters, I happen upon them as a common occurrence on trails and try to keep my distance. Once during a dry spell, 3 large ones walked down my street like a gang of tough guys unafraid of the urban environment around them.

Most of the time I'm amazed the Sonoran Desert can support mammals this big and then remember this is a pretty green desert as far as deserts go. As a regional character, the javelina is pretty famous; adorning postcards, lawn ornaments and mailboxes. As a wild animal it's tough, crafty and fearless.

I was thinking about their sense of smell which is way better than their eyesight. That sense of smell helps them root out seeds, meats, fruits grasses and roots. A scent gland on the rear of their back help them communicate with each other. So yeah, I was thinking about navigating by smell in this piece.