Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ode to the SRP Boat: Planing Through the Desert


I've been conditioned over the years to recognize this means art is being installed

Whenever the SRP boat trailer is backed down the ramp like this, it's the sign that the boat is being used for maintenance of some kind. Often in this area, it's installation of public art. I get giddy/manic/inspired/annoying about that here, but this post is about the boat itself. Because apart from the anticipation that new art is being installed, I also always think about the boat itself.

The thought starts with the view above, looking down the canal toward the low bridge ahead. There's a dam gate weir thing right behind me in this photo, so there's only one way to go from here in a boat. The boat operators must have to duck low to get under that bridge. The boat must be operated at a slow crawl to do it. That direction is upstream from here, so some power must be needed to go that direction, but still, I think you might be able to manage it with a small electric or trolling motor. But the SRP boat has a larger outboard than that.

Parked with the Merc 40

In an era where bass boats have like dual 150 HP outboards just to be permitted to make an appearance at the marina, I know that a Merc 40 is no big deal. From what I've seen before, this little boat is good at the tasks its used for here, in support of public art installation. Here's an example from an earlier post

Right tool for the task. Also, the task description is interesting. Task description left as exercise for the reader.

It works. But, in my imagination, I picture this boat, the spirit of it, the heart of it if you will, intended for greater things. What could be greater than the photo above? I imagine it being used to navigate long and distant stretches of the canal through the open desert, at higher speed, planing through the saguaros, past Gila Monsters that stop and stare, among the ocotillos and chollas, running through the water going places at speeds that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve in those locations. Tied up at the Scottsdale Waterfront, installing floaty art, that's great and all, but planing through the desert, that's awesome.

SRP boat in my bike lane, headed off to greater canal adventures

The striders art, the squid paintings on the canal walls, the floating nodes, steel donuts, the  foam tools, along with this new exhibition going in, they all make my brain explode in their surreal and joyful wonder, sure. But, also, and less expectedly, I close my eyes and see a Gila Monster watching an SRP boat motor by in the middle of the open desert, and it takes my breath away. His head turns to follow it, he senses its vibrations flowing to him through canal wall and caliche, has some kind of sense of the motor sound fading into the distance, followed by the quiet of the desert: a cactus wren calls, a locust buzzes at noon, a Gambel's quail chortles to its clan beneath the palo verde. The Gila Monster darts out his tongue because they always to that. Then he scuttles off the rock and goes back to monster business.

Head west

That's my SRP canal boat vision. It colors these art installs for me, and then the art itself. I know how it got there. I understand the tools used to make it float, to get it to stay in place in the flowing waters. As I gaze with wonder at the surreal tangles of light and magic in the night, I close my eyes and hear a boat motor running through the desert.
 

8 comments:

  1. "...been conditioned over the years to recognize this means art is being installed." Either that or simply a boat is getting launched!

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    1. Sometimes the force that launches ships is beautiful, Steve. I associate the scent of an outboard with the call of a loon, for example from all my hours sitting on Minnesota lakes not catching anything but mosquito bites, but with my dad.

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  2. You're seriously fascinating. Really.

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    1. Thanks, Candace. My followers may be small in number, but I get a tremendous boost when I see that people from as different places as Phoenix, to Peru, to China stop here occasionally.

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  3. Miami has canals, but they haven't been discovered as a venue for public art. We are very, very envious.

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    1. Marsha the canals are great venues for art that floats and lights up night. Bonus points are given if you hook up Ipads that let people control the flashing and colors of the lights.

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  4. Gee, the bugs sure are big out there.

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