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Discovery Center hosts Ice Age art

New exhibit opens May 5

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center invites the public to the opening of a new exhibition, "Age's End: Art About the Missoula Ice Age Floods" by Stev H. Ominski on Saturday, May 5.

Doors open at 9 a.m. and Ominski will provide a presentation about the exhibit in the M.J. Murdock Theater beginning at 11.

During the end of the last Ice Age, successive floods from Glacial Lake Missoula raced across Eastern Washington and into the Columbia River system, dramatically reshaping the landscape. In their wake, coulees and scablands, gigantic gravel bars, and house-size erratic rocks were left to tell the tale.

As the geologic community continues to sort out the evidence with hammers, picks, and computer models, illustrator Ominski has turned this unfolding story into visual images from the past. The exhibit combines a selection of these original paintings and drawings, along with text by the artist describing the action and floods features. A number of digital computer images, provided by geologist Bruce Bjornstad, help explain the research process for Ominski's artwork.

Ominski's inspiration comes from his environment, as well as his association with floods researchers.

"Standing on a basalt precipice that drops hundreds of feet before you, and spans a mile on either side of you, is a humbling experience. Then you come to learn that the erosive forces of floodwaters and debris created these features, and that those waters would have towered several hundred feet over your head, racing by at 65 MPH. Now that is an image that is tough to wrap your brain around."

But that is what Ominski has set out to do: give the viewer a visual reference by which to process the concept of some of the largest floods ever to have occurred on the planet.

Ominski has been at this project for nearly eight years and has kept close watch on the latest evidence through his ties to a number of top geologists in the field. He also gains vast amounts of information, from members of the Ice Age Floods Institute and "other floods nuts, whether I want it or not," Ominski says affectionately.

The artist's images have appeared in newspaper and magazine articles about the Ice Age Floods, throughout the region. Currently he is producing pieces for Washington State Parks interpretive sites.

Along with this viewing of selected works by the artist, The Discovery Center will be releasing a limited edition print of the painting "Ages End" available in the museum store.

The exhibition will be up through October, 2007, when a new permanent Ice Age Exhibition is slated to open. This 1500 square foot exhibit will feature a mural by Ominski depicting the floods raging through the vicinity of The Dalles, as well as giant Ice Age mammals that lived here.


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