With its redwoods, sloughs, wetlands and wild plants, Santa Cruz County holds a lifetime’s supply of artistic subject matter for local photographer/printer Linda Cover. A SPECTRA artist who has been teaching in the area for more than a decade, Cover specializes in nature photos enhanced with materials like orange oil, pastels and charcoal.
Originally from New York, Cover moved to the Santa Cruz area 40 years ago, raising her daughter in the Watsonville hills. “It gave me a greater appreciation of nature,” she notes. “Watsonville has a plethora of natural elements that are really important to the wellbeing of the community at large.”
In addition to running an afterschool art program at the Tannery, Cover works with local kids through the SPECTRA program. As a teacher of grades K-8, she offers public schools an eight-week Watershed Curriculum in which students map their watershed area, draw creatures that live in that area and read and write poems about those creatures and about nature as a whole.
“I’ve always been inspired by nature, and I’ve lived in nature in all of these different environments,” the photographer states. “So I’ve come to realize the importance of watershed and water as a concept, an idea. I use that as a teaching tool. I think kids need to understand where our water comes from and how it works on the landscape and our rivers, creeks and our own backyards.”
Cover’s interest in that subject made her a natural fit for the River ArtWalk, a collection of temporary art projects that enlivened the San Lorenzo River throughout the month of June 2015. The ArtWalk was part of the Ebb & Flow River Arts Project, an effort on the part of local artists and river enthusiasts to turn the San Lorenzo Riverwalk into a safe and enjoyable gathering spot. The event kicked off in early June with the Ebb & Flow River Arts Celebration, a community event that featured art, music, film, dance, parades and river tours.
When Cover got wind of the Ebb & Flow project, she jumped at the chance to bring forward her child artists as members of the community. Under her guidance, students created 16 different depictions of animals that live around the San Lorenzo River, including raccoons, herons, skunks, snowy egrets, gopher snakes and lizards. These images were transferred to eight double-sided banners that were then installed by the exercise area on the levee behind Gateway Plaza. “It’s kind of a way to identify what you might see when you’re walking on the levee,” Cover explains.
to the general population. Rivers that go through cities usually are honored—you have beautiful walkways and areas that people want to go to.”
Cover’s connection to the San Lorenzo River levee extends beyond her involvement with Ebb & Flow: she also works with the Leveelie Ladies, a group of retired teachers who clean up the levee every Saturday and Monday. “It’s just a way to get together and socialize,” she says. “People could do more of that—I don’t necessarily mean cleaning up, but using the levee as part of what you might want to do. You can walk your dog, bicycle, whatever.”
She adds that many locals don’t know where the Riverwalk is, let alone that it is a great way to avoid traffic on the way to the beach. “It’s nature that you can access easily, because it’s right downtown,” she says. “Ebb & Flow brought attention to the fact that we have this river here, that we need to look after it and protect it, and that the levee is really a wonderful place to go.”
More of Linda’s work can be seen at http://www.lindacover.org/.