My American Landscape LIII

Our ‘natural world’ – visually one must understand that little has been left ‘natural’

The urban landscape has been neglected in this blog. With this post that will begin to change. My intent in exploring My American Landscape is to include all influences that visually and physically embrace my visceral sensibilities as well as, that, that offends and creates influenced visual compositions.

I live in Spokane, Washington. However, my wanderings take to all over my state. In this basalt, sandstone, sand dunes, rolling hills, mountain ranges in a landscape often compared to the rugged mountains of Switzerland. Mount Shuksun is frequently mistaken for Mount Baker as well as the Swiss Alps. Take a look. It may be one the most photographed mountains in Washington State. This state I call home is a massive mix of contradictions. If you simply look at the tourist visuals, you will discover, rivers, lakes, mountains, sky, glacial erosion to match any part of this country. Then, if you look closer, there are large refineries, mining remnants, nearly two thirds of the state under the plow. And if that were not enough, there are dams on every major river.

On the Spokane River, which is borne at the northern part of Lake Coeur d’Alene and empties a short 111 miles into the Columbia River. On this river alone there are nine dams. Which is nice for Lake Coeur d’Alene residences, restricting the lake height fluctuations by mere feet during all seasons. It also provides electricity for nearly all of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. Maybe some of Montana too. . . . just a guess. However, at what cost? An entire post not part of this one.

One of my observations of this state of mine – Where the tribal peoples of the Pacific Northwest and Inland Pacific Northwest existed prior to the U.S.’s push West. With its’ technically advanced machinery come to extract from the land what the Indigenous peoples had been caring for since the beginning of time. The Confederated Tribes, the Salish Tribes did not need to invent ‘sustainably harvested’ natural resources. It was a part of their blood. It was a part of their inheritance. ‘Sustainability harvested’ was how they sustained life.

So easily distracted, . . .

Spokane is the hub of the Pacific Inland Northwest. It was where mining tycoons came to create their life while their enterprises in Northern Idaho devastated the environment. They surely could not have lived in and among the destruction created by their mining practices in the silver, gold, copper and zinc mines of Northern Idaho. There is a town called Smelterville, Idaho. The town was named for it primary employer, The Bunker Hill Mine and Smelting Complex, which is/was owned by Asarco. The devastation from the air pollution killed off hillsides for miles around the complex. It was named an environmental Super Fund site in 1998. The hillsides in the last two decades are finally coming back to life. Meaning they actually have grasses, shrubs and yes, the occasional pine tree.

So given that, Spokane was a moneyed town. The buildings developed and built were decorated by the best money could buy. Sandstone, carved and finished in Mexico, marble from Italy and granite from the East Coast. (Old Seattle is similar. Just different tycoons. Lumber, Coal, Salmon.) The brick and stone work create landscapes of contrasting visuals. As well as visual curiosities and questions that can only be answered by some of our most studied historians.

It is this understanding of my environs that the beginnings of “My Urban American Landscape”, which I will not name but will be an intricate part of “My American Landscape.” Starts here.

I typically do post production in color and then convert to my preferred black and white. There will be representations from both processes.

Yes, yes – just for you color hounds.

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