“Lost Springs: An Artist’s Journey into Florida’s Abandoned Springs” viewing and panel discussion with Karen Chadwick, Matt Keene, Lisa Rinaman and Margaret Tolbert. Gainesville, June 23, 2017
The artist is the extraordinary Margaret Tolbert, and the springs are not so much abandoned as intentionally flooded and covered with many feet of water. Because some decades ago some men wanted money more than they wanted the springs, and since they were in power, they got their way. Sounds quite familiar, because that is still happening today in Florida.
An overflowing crowd with people standing along the walls was treated to a superb documentary film by Matt Keene which gave the tragic history of the George Kirkpatrick Dam, which created the Rodman Reservoir which essentially destroyed the Ocklawaha River.
At least one employee of the St. Johns River Water Management District was in attendance, but he slipped out immediately after the film and did not stay for the additional information or panel speakers.
There has been an on-going struggle to remove this dam for decades, spearheaded by Florida Defenders of the Environment, represented at this showing by Executive Director and ex-water manager, and OSFR Advisor Jim Gross. We have posted on this (“Removing Dam Would Revitalize Economy”) and it is a sad story.
Margaret Tolbert shared with us her love, appreciation and understanding of the springs hidden beneath the dam waters. This is reflected not only in her words, but in her unique artwork and by her physical interaction with the cold, clear waters emerging from our aquifer. No one else can capture the beauty and essence of these unique Florida phenomena as does she.
Program creator Margaret Tolbert Karen Chadwick
Jim Gross Matt Keene Lisa Rinaman
Captain Karen Chadwick, artist in her own right (soon to have an exhibition of her sculptures along with Margaret Tolbert in Jacksonville) piloted the boat in the film and gave a rundown on the state of disrepair of the dam. Tireless water advocate and St Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman spoke of restoration of the river. Others who spoke were Jim Gross, mentioned above, and film creator Matt Keene, who had words of poetry to describe the river.
Thanks to Margaret Tolbert, panel and crew for an extraordinary evening.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-