Steelhead Log Jam

This past weekend, while on a guide trip, I came across a pod of steelhead trying to moving up into the falls of a small little Lake Erie tributary. A large tree had fallen in their path and there was little I could do but take some footage of their predicament.

A seven-year old fisherman on Little Canadaway Creek

I was looking for some images for a proposal and came across some interesting footage and photo of Diego and I out on a walk on Little Canadaway on brisky sunny winter day back in 2008. We found a piece of ice caught perfectly in the current so that it spun continually and a few minutes later, the young man landed a steelhead.

Artwork in Gray’s Sporting Journal – Nov/Dec 2011

A few days ago, I got a nice surprise in the mail. I opened the recent issue of Gray’s Sporting Journal and saw one of my paintings on page 49. It’s always a pleasure working with Wayne Knight, the magazine’s art director, and I’ve been fortunate to have been included in around ten issues over the past decade. The writing is always great so it’s an honor having the work associated with the articles and printed in such a beautifully crafted publication.

The painting was created a few years ago in the spring after I went down to the stream below my house. I took some underwater pictures of a few steelhead below the falls. There was a beautiful stillness under the current. The painting is now hanging in the studio. It will be nice to have this reproduction sitting next to it. Who knows… it might be of interest to a few collectors.

The kids hit the Canadaway in search of steelhead!

This past weekend, Sunday, October 30th, S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing Program had their first outing in search of steelhead. The group included the young students, their parents, a few community members and a group of dedicated mentors. The group had spent the last few weeks tying flies in preparation for this trip.


After the group was outfitted with waders, boots, rods and reels, individual casting lessons  began on the lawn.

A few minutes later, the students were on the water using their new skills.

Jimbo, one of our mentors for the past decade, moved on to work with another young student as sun started to move closer to the horizon.

On another beat of the stream, Mike, another mentor, worked with a couple new students as the looked at steelhead moving upstream.

He looked on as he gave casting instructions from the bank.

Sue, one of our newest mentors and mother of one of the students, jumped at the opportunity to help with the casting instructions.

She got a lot of practice untangling lines from trees and rods as her daughter looked on with amusement.

I  gave a couple lessons on tying an improved clinch knot as we attached on one of their newly tied flies.

Along the way we saw one of the hundreds of willow trees we have planted over the past 14 years. It was nice to see them do well and adhered tightly to the banks.

Overall,  we had a wonderful fall day on our local stream as we cast to beautiful steelhead as they moved through the pools. I know many will be haunted by the long shadows and dream about these chrome beauties as I have been for many years.

Next Monday we return to the Fredonia Central Middle School to our weekly fly tying sessions where we will tie up some streamers in preparation for our next trip.

We are ready for our next trip!



New work from studio: Chautauqua County Streams, New York – Part III

Here is the fifth out of six paintings that I am planning to exhibit on March 2-30, 2012 at the Octagon Gallery in the Patterson Library in Westfield, New York.

This is the painting of Laona Falls located in the village of Laona, New York on Canadaway Creek. This is as far upstream as migrating steelhead from Lake Erie can reach although there are rumors that in very high waters they can move above these falls. Laona and its falls inspired Spiritualist  groups since the mid-19th century and the American composer Alan Hovhaness who composed two works inspired by the hamlet: Laona (for piano) and Dawn at Laona, Op. 153 (cantata for low voice and piano).

The images for the painting were taken in August 2011 during a family trip to the falls to retreat from the day’s heat. We munched on wild blackberries on the path back to the car.

Brook trout back in Canadaway Creek!

This past Saturday, the kids, community members and mentors that make up the S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing Program met with our good friend, Mr. Steve Welk from Whispering Pines Hatchery, to introduce brook trout spawners into Canadaway Creek. We have heard reports passed down through the generations of family members catching brook trout in the stream but brook trout have not been found in the stream for close to a century due high water temperature, agriculture, riparian condition, one or more non-native fish species, urbanization and acidic deposition. Brook trout populations have been eliminated or greatly reduced throughout almost half of their historical habitat in the eastern United States according  released assessments by Trout Unlimited and a coalition of state and federal agencies. The report says brook trout populations remain strong in only 5 percent of their historical habitat in the eastern United States.

In 2006, S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing program made a large investment to try to rectify the situation by purchasing 265 gallon tank, stand, chiller, pump and filter and place it in the Mr. Dan Lawrence’s science room. We got eggs donated from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hatchery in Randolph and we began to raise brook trout in the classroom. The following year Canadaway creek had brook trout in its waters for the first time in around 100 years. Over the years we learned a great deal about the fragility of this trout species and difficulty in raising them in a classroom. As the program continued, it became clear that we needed professional help and that we need to supplement the brook trout we were raising if we wanted to try to create a strain of brook trout that could survive in Canadaway Creek. Ever since then we have worked closely with Mr. Steve Welk.

Over the years we have tried to introduce around 400 six to nine inch brook trout in the spring and an additional 100-125 larger brookies in the fall that are ready to spawn. We have also worked closely with the DEC and have electro-shocked the stream during the warmest months in the summer to find where the brook have survived. Thanks to their efforts, we have been able to find the coolest spring waters with a thick canopy in fairly inaccessible locations that is best suited to support the introduction of the these trout. With the support of the Orvis, Patagonia World Trout Fund, Dreamcatcher Foundation and private donors, we have been able to continue our educational and conservation programming.

These are some of the images and short video (one minute) from our recent trip to introduce some new spawners into the stream.


New work from studio: Chautauqua County Streams, New York – Part II

Here is the fourth out of six paintings that I am planning to exhibit on March 2-30, 2012 at the Octagon Gallery in the Patterson Library in Westfield, New York.

This is the painting of Chautauqua Creek Falls located off of Sherman Road in Westfield, New York. The falls are located upstream from town in the stream’s Catch and Release Section.

The images for the painting were taken in August 2011 during a family trip to the falls to retreat from the day’s heat. We munched on wild blackberries on the path back to the car.

New work from studio: Chautauqua County Streams, New York

From March 2-30, 2012, I will be presenting a solo exhibition in the Octagon Gallery, which is part of the beautiful Patterson Library in Westfield, New York. I have always been a fan of the library and its architecture along with its collection of historic paintings of the Westfield and taxidermy specimens.

Over the past few years, my research and exhibitions have been outside the region so I haven’t had much of an opportunity to make paintings of some of my favorite locations that are close to home.

This is a rare opportunity for me to dedicate a good bit of time to documenting these scenes. I am planning on creating six to eight new four-foot paintings of water scenes from Westfield (Chautauqua Creek), Fredonia (Canadaway Creek), Arkwright (Canadaway Creek), and Brocton (Corell Creek) during different times of the year.

These are three of the recently finished works for the exhibition.


New work from studio: Four Mile Creek, Rochester, New York

Here’s some studio shots of some recent work for an upcoming exhibition at the Davison Gallery at Robert Wesleyan University in Rochester, New York in March of 2012.

The two paintings are of a brown trout and the stream  that was documented last year at for Mile Creek in Webster just outside of Rochester. This work is part of the Biological Regionalism Series which documents environments and fish species located near the exhibition venues. The work tries to create connections between society, culture and nature.

The Davison Gallery is located in the Kodak Atrium, Roberts Cultural Life Center, at Roberts Wesleyan College, 2301 Westside Drive, Rochester, NY 14624. The exhibition runs from March 2 -30, 2012. The Davison Gallery is open from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Upside to getting old.

Back in 1988-89 (22 years ago) before arriving here at SUNY Fredonia, I had the pleasure of teaching art at Lincoln-Sudbury High School in the outskirts of Boston, MA. The folks there were very nice to me and the students were very committed to their education. One of those curious students was a young man whose name was Josh Peters. He was always asking questions and there seemed to be a genuine interest in art outside the academic setting but I also knew that life had a way of directing one’s future and that being an artist can be a difficult career choice. I really didn’t think much about it until Josh emailed me a few years ago that he was finishing graduate school at Rutgers University with a MFA in Painting.

I was surprised by the email but very proud of his hard work and perseverance.  I’m glad that we have kept in touch ever since as I have seen him exhibit his work in China, Hong Kong, Germany as well as in major cities on the east and west coast of the United States. He is now also curating “ La Californie”, an exhibition that opens this Friday, September 9th, in Los Angeles. It is very exciting to experience his progress through his career ….maybe getting old isn’t so bad if you can stick around long enough to see your students realize some of their dreams.

He will also be exhibiting in the ‘2011 Fellows’ exhibition at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA and ‘The Unseen’ exhibition at the Torrance Museum of Art, Torrance, CA.