We are pleased to announce that the U.S. State Department has purchased Border Troop for placement as a permanent installation at their new consulate in Tijuana, Mexico, through the Art in the Embassies program. Border Troop was David’s keystone/anchor piece for his last exhibition: Borderland Birds/ Aves Fronterizas, April 16 – May 29, 2010 at Electric Works in San Francisco.
Border Troop is 11.5 feet tall and 9.5 feet wide. It consists of nine paper panels with additional attached papers. It is painted and drawn with graphite, inks, colored pencils, gouache, and watercolor.
At the original installation there was a sound loop triggered with a motion sensor, and accompanied with an installation of plants from the lower Rio Grande Valley and Sonoran desert plants, the viewing became an immersion experience. We encourage you to start the sound loop below and then read on.
Inspired from David’s visits to the region, the scene is set in the Sky Islands of south-east Arizona/New Mexico and northern Mexico that are part of the Basin and Range region. Ramsey Canyon (Huachuca Mountains) and Madera Canyon (Santa Rita Mountains). This was formerly the home of Geronimo and Apache tribes, Mexican Wolf, and Thick-billed Parrot, but it still holds populations of rare and endemic species of flora and fauna. The stealthy Jaguar has even been photographed and, sadly, recently captured. This Sky Island complex is a series of related mountain ranges that are separated by vast stretches of flat lands that create, in effect, habitat islands in a sea of desert. The isolation of these mountains has spurred endemism such as with the Chiricahua Leopard Frog. These ranges are at the northern breeding range limit of at least 28 Mexican/Madrean bird species as the mountain ranges are at a unique intersection of subtropical to temperate latitudes.
The artwork features Elegant Trogon, Aztec Thrush, Magnificent Hummingbird, Montezuma Quail, and Coati in a typical Sky Island canyon forest. Arizona Sycamore, Yuccas/Spanish Dagger, and Alligator Juniper (not depicted) are some of the more common flora that line stream beds. During the monsoon season in late June and July, these mountains receive a fair amount of rain in afternoon thunderstorms and showers. Moist air from Mexico collides with hot dry desert air to produce this phenomenon.
“When rainstorms pass in the afternoons a previously quiet canyon can come alive with animal activity, birds singing, feeding, animals foraging. When the brown flakes and peeling white bark of the Arizona Sycamore becomes soaked with rain water the colors deepen and intensify. To my delight the trees transform to a rich shimmering mosaic patchwork of camouflage color.
The feeling I tried to achieve with this piece is how one feels as they experience the natural world. The scale of the piece and the sound narrative help achieve this. Also, birds and their surrounding environment reveal themselves slowly, as an entire system, and as unique individuals. The patched together pieces work to convey this.
Often, my initial reaction is an overwhelming sensation of an ephemeral complex where everything is equal and equally detailed. As time passes and as I interact with the surroundings, hear a trogon call, feel the breeze, notice a hummingbird sally for insects, a narrative emerges. Critters, wet peeling Sycamore bark come to attention with hyper-real details or remain mysteriously hidden with lack of details (or identification). As this unfolds much else diminishes and fades, impressionistically.”
Click the play button in the control below to hear the sound loop that accompanied this installation.