A program of the Water Quality Form, The Rainy Day Brush-Off was an artistic rain barrel program that operated between 2008-2012 and I had the opportunity to participate in between 2009-2012. This program involved the efforts of representatives of the City of Knoxville, Knox County, Town of Farragut and the Water Quality Forum. For the 2009 and 2010 events, in addition to helping facilitate the program, I also created two artistic rain barrels based on themes of repetition, symbiosis, and existentialism.
In 2012 Parci Gibson (Knox County), John Shubzda (City of Knoxville) and myself gave an internationally attended presentation titled “The Rainy Day Brush Off: Initiating a Successful Public Outreach Campaign” facilitated by the EPA.
The results of the Rainy Day Brush-Off Artistic Rain Barrel Competition included the distribution of over 2,500 rain barrels in the Knox County area while engaging local artists in the creation of over 115 unique artistic rain barrels. At 55 gallons each, this resulted in an increase of an estimated 137,500 gallons of harvesting capacity in the community reducing runoff and improving water quality.
During my time with the Town of Farragut, I spent several years as a Board Member of the Tennessee Stormwater Association (TNSA) where I first served as Treasurer for three consecutive years and then as Vice President during my final year. During this period I oversaw approximately $400,000 in assets and worked with the IRS and state regulators to secure TNSA’s 501(c)3 Status and resolve several outstanding tax challenges. In addition, I worked with the conference planning committee to organize the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Annual Conference as well as provided substantial support to the East Tennessee MS4 working group and East Tennessee Development Symposium which consistently attracted over 300 participants. TNSA successfully brought professionals together from all aspects of the regulated community under the Clean Water Act from stormwater program administrators, to state and federal regulators and representatives from the private sector. This strength in connecting diverse stakeholders combined with state-wide marketing efforts though the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters (TAB), Green Infrastructure Grants and other direct MS4 program support elements laid the foundation for a sustainable non-profit professional organization. A long way from TNSA’s humble roots as an advisory board to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
During my final year on the board, I had the pleasure to see several years of board effort culminate in the selection of the organization’s first self-sustaining Executive Director, Charlene Desha, who had previously served as the Executive Director of Keep Blount Beautiful in Knoxville, TN.
To learn more about the Tennessee Stormwater Association, feel free to visit the website or facebook.
After art school in 2005 I didn’t really draw for several years and, when I finally got back at it, it was in a way that emphasized simplicity and repetition over realism. A decade later, in August of 2015, I had been working on a sculptural structure for about a year. This skeleton of sorts was built from recycled consumer cardboard boxes built up from a piece of scrap plexiglass and then covered with a skin of paper which involves stacking layer after layer of newspaper using mod podge. This process eventually creates a sturdy enough surface to draw on. I wasn’t really sure where I was going with the piece, but I liked the idea of revisiting my previous efforts to use reused materials in my work. August was also the month that I came home to discover I would be a father.
This realization inspired the direction I would proceed with my piece and prompted the addition of a womb-like focal element in the center of the piece encapsulating the avatar of my unborn child. For the next 9 months I worked feverishly at finalizing the skin of the piece trying to get the color and gradient of the paper just right while beginning the most labor intensive part of the process, drawing the circles and the accompanying pointillism that create the overall sense of a biological/cellular space.
In my present cannon of creation, circles in a repetitive pattern serve to illustrate a sense of interconnectedness within the human ecology that we occupy throughout our physical experiences and perceptions. Cells dividing, stars born through atomic fusion, birth, rings of a tree trunk, the human eye, all glimpses of a universal truth. We come from one another and our existence and the fate of everything we know is interconnected.
The title, Poppy Seed, comes from the size of my son when I first saw him in an ultrasound photo. He was a small circle with a second pulsing circle contained within it. It was, and continues to be, one of the most amazing moments of clarity I have personally experienced.