Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Camouflage At Arabia Mountain/ Tom Smith and A.H. Thayer




Sometimes at Arabia Mountain, we notice that someone has taken great time to remove graffiti.  Richard and I can just detect a very slight difference in the color of the rock and we know that it is writing or crude drawings that have been blessedly erased!

Our mountains of stone (they are really monadnocks) are millions of years old and are awe inspiring...why would anyone want to mar this beauty?  Thankfully, we have volunteers like   Tom Smith  working hard to keep Arabia Mountain the way it should be seen!  I only just learned of this gentleman and his great volunteer work at Arabia Mountain. If you click on his name, you can see that he was recently given the Crossroads 2016 Community Crossroads Kudos award.  (There is a video on the link as well.)  I found it very interesting that he sometimes mixes dirt into the paint when he paints over the graffiti and this reminded me of A. H. Thayer....



image from wikipedia

The photo above shows a bird on the left.  Figure on the right is countershaded and invisible.

Abbot Handerson Thayer (1849-1921) was an American painter, naturalist and teacher and is sometimes called the "Father of Camouflage".  You may read more about him here.  I first learned of him when one of my customers had a book on angels and I must have looked very longingly upon the book cover because she promptly handed the book over to me as a gift!  Here is the painting  by A. H. Thayer that was on the front of the book...


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A. H. Thayer spent his childhood at the base of Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire and became an amateur naturalist.. (If you read my blog, you must know how I can completely understand that!) He must have loved it in all seasons, just as we love our monadnocks here in Georgia.
If you get the chance, click on that link and read of his life, it is a fascinating story but a somewhat sad one. (There is even a link to England...he spent some time in Cornwall.)

Some might need "buckets to catch the dripping sentiment" (which was one of the criticisms leveled against A. H. Thayer) but anyone who cares for Arabia Mountain is an angel in my book.  Thank you, Tom Smith!  




38 comments:

  1. It is sad that there are people out there who do not have any scruples about spraying graffitti on natural rocks, or beautiful old buildings and walls, etc.! I don't mind them "decorating" an otherwise ugly, grey concrete wall, in the middle of an industrialized zone. When it is well done, graffitti really is an art form. But why there on the rocks, crude words and drawings?!
    Good job there are people like Tom Smith out there! I think the offenders - if ever caught - should be made to work alongside him and other volunteers, to deal with the consequences of their actions.

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    1. I think the concrete wall should just be left as it is, spray painting it doesn't improve it, that is just how I see it! Better to plant a few native wildflowers near it, and then, that could enhance the beauty and help butterflies too.
      As you know, having it here at Arabia Mountain is not only wrong, it is also illegal, they do have signs saying this. Don't know if you were able to see the video, but Tom Smith said that Arabia Mountain used to be called GRAFFITI Mountain, there was so much of it.

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  2. Graffiti in natural surroundings is beyond my understanding. Your post is a lovely tribute to Tom Smith and those of his ilk.

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    1. Thanks, Graham. I was pleased to see he got this award and recognition for his work at Arabia Mountain.

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  3. This is amazing - I have a print of that very angel, painted by Thayer, hanging in my bathroom. I am truly startled to see it here - I've never seen it pictured anywhere else.

    The original is hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. I saw it there, probably 20 years ago, on an outing with my sister. The girl pictured was someone's beloved daughter - apparently they liked to pose young girls as angels back then. Not sure if she was Thayer's daughter or not.

    I bought a card print and had it framed (I was in an angel phase back then.) :)

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    1. Oh, great minds think alike! I do find this painting interesting, the young girl's face is particularly striking to me. I read that it was modeled after the painter's daughter, that is what it said on Wikipedia, they don't always get it right, so maybe not.
      Anyway, I do like the painting too!

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  4. I agree with what Meike said. When graffiti is painted in ugly urban industrial areas, and well done, it can be an art form. But it is shocking and horrible to me when done in places of natural beauty. I found the video of Tom Smith inspiring! What a gift he has been to Arabia Mountain! I can imagine you and Richard being volunteers when you are retired.

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    1. Even in those urban areas, I can't see the beauty of it...it just looks messy and out of place to my eyes.
      Glad you were able to see the video! I hope I can still walk when I am able to retire, let alone work so hard at Arabia Mountain! :-)

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  5. Those are some incredible paintings. Graffiti is a strange one for me. I do consider some graffit to be art. Banksy is a fabulous artist. A lot of it is just vandalism and destroying of things. So to me it kind of depends on the artist and the place. You can have beautiful graffiti art but you can also have crap. So it's just like regular art really.

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    1. Oh Mark, I know of Banksy and you might guess, I am not a fan! (Sorry if you love him, even though millions do I am not one of them!) Art really is in the eye of the beholder!

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  6. Glad you have such a lovely place to be and that it is well taken care of too. Nature is beautiful on it's own and we have a responsibility to protect it.

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    1. Yes, and to me it is odd that someone would think to destroy this beauty...but then, many don't see it, it is just rock to them.

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  7. That's the kind of quiet, dedicated volunteerism that makes communities great places in which to live. Small actions speak volumes, as they say.

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    1. Yes, and I am glad that Tom Smith was recognized for this kind of behind the scenes work!

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  8. Thank goodness for people like that. I hate graffiti and never understand how people can deface a beautiful natural site with it.

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  9. The idea of graffiti in a place of natural beauty is an assault.

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    1. If caught, they could be heavily fined. They do have signs telling them so.

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  10. I am normally not a fan of graffiti. I do like designated graffiti sites however. For instance a huge rock set aside for the express purpose providing a place to express thoughts. Some of the graffiti is very inventive.

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    1. I suppose, but then...it could be expressed on the sands of the beach or on a rock where they write with chalk...in other words, where it can be erased with ease!

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  11. I am not a fan of graffiti! It is good that it is removed.

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  12. That angel painting is magnificent. Thanks for highlighting it in your post, together with the wonderful volunteers at Arabia Mountain. Removal of graffiti is something I wholeheartedly agree with, no matter how artistic some may believe it to be.

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    1. Thanks, Mairead! You are in the NO GRAFFITI Camp with me! I have such a strong idea of art and nothing and no one can shake it! (Just a country Georgia girl and I am no one but I know beauty when I see it!)
      Thanks for your comment, my friend! :-)

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  13. I never like to see graffiti in the natural environment but that can also mean plastics and rubbish everywhere that will never fade away and degrade, even in the deepest canyons in the ocean, as was recently discovered when we finally built craft powerful enough to get down there. Some might say that rock art(as in the recent world wide craze for building fancy cairns or balancing stones on top of each other in remote places is "graffiti" as it too doesn't belong there)so maybe it just boils down to being pretty and artistic work outdoors in nature or crudely done. Some might even say that certain alterations in the Black Hills of South Dakota might be classed as "graffiti" as it has ruined a perfectly good range of natural mountains :o) but I get your point.
    Humans have always had something in them that makes them want to leave a mark on things wherever they are- just depends how they go about it and how skillfully executed the end product is but it's the same basic urge and that will never change.
    Like the angel painting... but equally I like the concept of Lilith :o) Yin and Yang.

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    1. Oh Bob, don't get me started on rubbish and litter! You wouldn't believe how much I pick up on my trips to Arabia Mountain sometimes! And you might not know this, but I am not a fan of what was done to the Black Hills of South Dakota, and I mean no disrespect to the great men who are carved there.
      Our world has different ways of expressing the same kinds of things. I love all beauty.

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  14. I love Thayer's work...it's very ethereal.

    I will never understand the mindset of those who litter...or those who vandalise with graffiti.

    Good post, Kay. :)

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    1. Thank you, Lee! Graffiti is like litter to me but I know that many don't see it that way.

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  15. Do you live on that mountain...?

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  16. Do you live on that mountain...?

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    1. I would if they would let me.😇

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  17. I see some amazing graffiti here in Germany and I find it absolutely amazing...

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    1. Maybe it is nice there, I can only go by what I have seen in New York, London and Atlanta. OH, and also on the sides of trains. If I ever get to Germany, I will have to let you know if I agree with you! :-)

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  18. Where is this pretty header taken? Is this where you live?

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    1. No, I was thinking of my in laws today...that is from Eastbourne in England where they live. (I was trying to do a post but with computer problems only managed to get a different header photo!) Hope you are having a nice weekend!

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  19. I guess graffiti has been going on for a long time. I remember going into a cave somewhere and having it explained to us that people over a hundred years ago were leaving graffiti.

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    1. I suppose people have always wanted to leave evidence of themselves, so to speak. If you could see the open spaces of rock and how beautifully natural they are, you would understand why graffiti should be erased. Very happy that someone does this!

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    2. I suppose people have always wanted to leave evidence of themselves, so to speak. If you could see the open spaces of rock and how beautifully natural they are, you would understand why graffiti should be erased. Very happy that someone does this!

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