Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Welcome to the Historic City of Marine on St. Croix!

Welcome to the official website for the City of Marine on St. Croix. Our city is located along the scenic St. Croix River, 12 miles north of Stillwater and 15 miles south of Taylors Falls.

The Village Hall, the community library, the Lutheran Church on the hill, the Stone House Museum, the Mill Site, the Fire Hall (built entirely by volunteer labor) are all sources of pride to the 700 or so residents of Marine.

Marine on St. Croix, founded as Marine Mills in 1839, was the site of the first commercial saw mill along the St. Croix River. The Mill Site is located behind and to the south of the Village Hall and has been declared a national historical site.

The ferry between Marine and the Wisconsin shore began operating in 1856 and continued until 1954. In 1870, the present General Store was built and has served the community ever since.

Crafts and articles from the daily life of early settlers are on display at the Stone House Museum which is staffed by members of the Marine Civic Club. The Stone House was built in 1872 and is an example of the stone architecture used by the early Swedish pioneers and was originally the town meeting house.

In 1888, the Village Hall was built. It continues to serve as the seat for community government and is the oldest village hall in the state still being used for governmental purposes. It is currently used for City Council and Planning Commission meetings, and houses the community library, which is also a branch of the Washington County Library system.

Once a busy river town with a population of 650 during the 1880's, Marine is now a community whose residents treasure the atmosphere of a friendly small town and county life with the advantages of being near a metropolitan area. In 1964, a group of residents established the Restoration Society to preserve the unique quality of this historical riverside town as it enjoys new growth and the advantages of both city and country living.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Catie Bursch – Marine Educator and Illustrator

An Artist in the Service of Science
By Riley Woodford

Catie Bursch belongs to a guild of artists who bring extinct animals to life, make the unseen visible, and put the enormity of the universe on paper.

Bursch is a scientific illustrator and a marine educator with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, working at the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve in Homer. She’s drawn her share of fish, plankton, plants and animals, but she said scientific illustration goes way beyond drawing critters for guide books.

“There are no photos of dinosaurs, but by studying and synthesizing all the information available, illustrators can reflect the findings of science,” she said. “It goes from drawing a virus, which no one can see, to drawing the solar system. You have to create a vision, using scientific facts.”

While art reflects culture, scientific illustration reflects the findings of science, she said. “Scientific papers are one form of communication; this is another form of communication, visual communication.”

“You’re an artist in the service of science, and you have a directive,” she added. “You’re trying to get something across scientifically. If someone is trying to key a fish out, you’re going to draw it differently than if you are showing how beautifully it moves through the water.”

Sometimes that means drawing a completely realistic rendition of a specimen, and sometimes it means taking liberties.

“Right now I’m working on illustrations of salmon, some of these might end up in the reg books, helping anglers to quickly ID between steelhead, coho, and king salmon,” she said. There’s no color, and the emphasis is on other details - the outline, where the spots are, the color of the inside of the mouth. “You take artistic license to communicate more effectively.”

Other times it means following accepted scientific illustrator’s protocol. A fish always faces left and every single fish scale is drawn. The artist shows the rays of the fins, and counts the rays so it’s the correct number.

Photographs are hard to work from, Bursch said, as it’s easy to distort or skew the proportions. “By far it’s best to work from a real specimen. Generally it’s preserved, and often I’ll have it pinned out – I carve the Styrofoam (base) so it lies correctly, then I pin it so the fins spread out. I need the measurements and proportions accurate. It can be time consuming.” That also involves periodic breaks to re-wet the specimen with alcohol or other preservatives.

Bursch began working for the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve in the spring of 2004. While drawing is often a solitary pastime, the bulk of her work at KBRR is in education, helping the public and school groups expand their knowledge of Kachemak Bay and its workings. She teaches classes and organizes Discovery Labs at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, where KBRR is housed, and goes into schools and biology classes, and takes students outside as well.

“I use illustration a lot with outreach, and incorporate drawing with many of our classes,” she said. “You can look at something forever, but if you have to draw it, you really get to know it. Asking kids to draw really slows them down, gets them to focus on observational skills.”

Bursch has also worked with Outward Bound Schools and the National Park Service. A few years ago she produced a series of botanical illustrations for Wrangell-St. Elias Park, a series on “What’s blooming this week.” In recent years she’s created a set of colored pencil drawings of marine invertebrates for display on the Alaska Marine Highway ferries. The illustrations have been reproduced and laminated as table-top displays. She also contributed a number of illustrations to a plankton guide that the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve uses in their lab classroom.

Bursch has also commercial fished for almost 25 years. “I went to college for one year in environmental education, and then I moved to Alaska in 1981 and started commercial fishing. I did a lot of different things, and then about five years ago, when my kids didn’t need me at home so much, I decided to finish my degree, and I studied both art and science.”

She took classes at Kenai Peninsula College in Homer, and then finished off in Anchorage at Alaska Pacific University. She earned a self-designed degree, liberal studies with emphasis in scientific illustrations. She’s still commercial fishing, and her family set nets for salmon in Bristol Bay.

An important part of her education came from outside academia, in the company of other artists. “I always drew my whole life, and I was mostly self-taught,” she said. “About eight years ago I heard about this organization, the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. They have a national annual conference. I’ve been attending those conferences and learning from the people in that group. They’ve also published a big book that’s like my bible for scientific illustration, ‘The Guild Handbook of Scientific Illustration.’”

She’s been drawing a lot of fish lately, focusing on under-rated forage fish, as part of a larger project. “There’s been a lot done on sport fish, but we need to understand the fish these guys eat, one level deeper, the fish the sport fish eat, and that seabirds depend on.”

Bursch said she loves spending time outdoors poking around and then drawing what she finds. She and her husband and two daughters often spend their free time fishing, hiking, or skiing in Homer, Bristol Bay and the Wrangell Mountains.

Friday, January 16, 2009

More on Spending Uncle Sam's Money

This view of the Senate Chamber was painted by T. Dart Walker in the late 1890s after observing a busy congressional work day. The scene was then engraved for the front cover of the December 23, 1899, issue of Leslie’s Weekly and titled Spending Uncle Sam’s Money: Senators Introducing the Customary Batch of Miscellaneous Bills at the Opening of the Session of Congress. Walker was born in Indiana, studied in Paris, and was known as an illustrator and marine artist. His work appeared in popular magazines of the period, such as Harper’s Weekly, the Graphic, and the Illustrated London News, and included scenes of political life, national events, and everyday activities.

This scene, painted in the late 1890s, depicts the U.S. Senate Chamber as it appeared at the opening of a session of Congress. Senators have just introduced the various bills to be considered during the session, and the large number of papers indicates that a heavy workload lies before them. New York illustrator T. Dart Walker captured the scene from the press gallery located on the north side of the Chamber. Below this gallery, but not illustrated, is the rostrum where the presiding officer of the Senate sits. Until recent years the vice president of the United States, as president of the Senate, presided regularly over Senate debates from this vantage point.

In the center of the painting three Senate staff members sit in front of the presiding officer's desk. Most likely these men are, from left to right, the secretary of the Senate, the legislative clerk, and the reading clerk. Immediately in front, at two smaller tables below the rostrum, sit official reporters and press reporters. Meanwhile, in the background, senators talk with one another in the "well" of the Chamber or at their desks, which are arranged in a semi-circle with Republicans on the left and Democrats on the right.

Two Senate pages appear in the scene: One is seated below the clerks' desk, and another crosses the Senate floor. The position of Senate page was first created in 1829. By the turn of the century the Senate employed at least 17 young boys as pages. Dressed in blue knickers and jackets, the pages spent their days running errands for the senators, announcing impending votes, placing papers and pens on the senators' desks, and delivering messages throughout the city.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The New Maritime Museum

The new Western Australian Maritime Museum on Victoria Quay, Fremantle was opened to the public on Sunday, December 1 by the Premier of Western Australia, Hon Dr Geoff Gallop. The development of the new Western Australian Maritime Museum is a Western Australian State Government initiative.

The building looks out towards the western horizon, another symbol of the Museum’s intention to look outwards to Western Australia’s contemporary role in the Indian Ocean region. The site for the Museum was chosen because of its great historical and cultural significance and its position in the working port, making it the ideal place to tell the stories of Western Australia’s early explorers, trade routes, naval defence, migration and the cultural richness that has resulted.

The New Galleries
As the first Museum of the Indian Ocean, the new Western Australian Maritime Museum looks at the past and our future as a community on the edge of the Indian Ocean. With significant historic objects and boats that highlight Western Australias sporting and adventure heritage, the exhibitions tell the stories of human endeavour that bring to life our maritime past.The exhibitions have been developed by the Western Australian Museum in conjunction with Melbourne design company Cunningham Martyn Design.

The new Museum has six themed galleries:
  • The Indian Ocean-
  • Tin Canoe to Australia II
  • Fremantle and the Swan River
  • Hooked on Fishing- Cargoes
  • Naval Defence