Arik Roper's "The Hidden Dimension" opens at Fuse Gallery in NYC on October 24, 2009

The Hidden Dimension

Arik Moonhawk Roper has become one of those artists whose album cover artwork is as dependable a way to select the listening material for tonight’s speaker-worship session as the band personnel listed on the back of the slipcase. Earth. Sleep. Howlin Rain. Sunn O))). Black Crowes. But the expansively naturalistic imagery he provides for these artists is only an entry point to his work: from his many editorial illustrations as a contributor to Arthur; to his most recent book, Mushroom Magick, a “visionary field guide” of botanical illustration that serves as an excellent companion piece to revolutionary mycologist Paul StametsMycelium Running.

“The Hidden Dimension” is a survey of Roper’s recent paintings and drawings at New York’s Fuse Gallery, and an ideal next step for those looking for further vistas onto his mystical landscapes. From the press release:

“The Hidden Dimension,” drawings and paintings by Arik Roper runs October 24 through November 28, 2009, at Fuse Gallery, 93 2nd Ave (between 5th & 6th Sts, 2nd Ave stop on the F), NYC, NY. The opening reception, on Saturday October 24, from 7 to 10 pm, is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Fuse Gallery at 212.777.7988 or fusegall@fusegallerynyc.com.

A selection of images from the show can be found below, after the jump. To see more of Roper’s work, you can visit his website, http://www.arikroper.com as well as the Fuse Gallery website. For more about Roper’s Mushroom Magick, take a listen to his recent interview with Gnostic Media by clicking here. And if your local fungi emporium is sold-out, copies of the book are of course available from Amazon.

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DAILY MAGPIE – Mycologist Hero Paul Stamets in NYC this Friday

Visionary mycologist Paul Stamets is giving one of his totally awesome mushroom workshops tomorrow (Friday, 2/6/09) at the Community Church of NY; 40 East 35th Street, Between Park and Madison Avenues. It’s $20 and — if you’ve got it — well worth it.

Full details at New York Open Center. More about Stamets after the jump.

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Paul Stamets' mushroom-based bioremediation techniques to the rescue again…

April 27, 2008 New York Times

Saddled With Legacy of Dioxin, Town Considers an Odd Ally: The Mushroom

By ANNIE CORREAL

FORT BRAGG, Calif. — On a warm April evening, 90 people crowded into the cafeteria of Redwood Elementary School here to meet with representatives of the State Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The substance at issue was dioxin, a pollutant that infests the site of a former lumber mill in this town 130 miles north of San Francisco. And the method of cleanup being proposed was a novel one: mushrooms.

Mushrooms have been used in the cleaning up of oil spills, a process called bioremediation, but they have not been used to treat dioxin.

“I am going to make a heretical suggestion,” said Debra Scott, who works at a health food collective and has lived in the area for more than two decades, to whoops and cheers. “We could be the pilot study.”

Fort Bragg is in Mendocino County, a stretch of coast known for its grand seascapes, organic wineries and trailblazing politics: the county was the first in the nation to legalize medical marijuana and to ban genetically modified crops and animals.

Fort Bragg, population 7,000, never fit in here. Home to the country’s second-largest redwood mill for over a century, it was a working man’s town where the only wine tasting was at a row of smoky taverns. But change has come since the mill closed in 2002.

The town already has a Fair Trade coffee company and a raw food cooking school. The City Council is considering a ban on plastic grocery bags. And with the push for mushrooms, the town seems to have officially exchanged its grit for green.

The mill, owned by Georgia-Pacific, took up 420 acres, a space roughly half the size of Central Park, between downtown Fort Bragg and the Pacific Ocean. Among several toxic hot spots discovered here were five plots of soil with high levels of dioxin that Georgia-Pacific says were ash piles from 2001-2, when the mill burned wood from Bay Area landfills to create power and sell it to Pacific Gas & Electric.

Debate remains about how toxic dioxin is to humans, but the Department of Toxic Substances Control says there is no safe level of exposure.

Kimi Klein, a human health toxicologist with the department, said that although the dioxin on the mill site was not the most toxic dioxin out there, there was “very good evidence” that chronic exposure to dioxin caused cancer and “it is our policy to say if any chemical causes cancer there is no safe level.”

Fort Bragg must clean the dioxin-contaminated coastline this year or risk losing a $4.2 million grant from the California Coastal Conservancy for a coastal trail. Its options: haul the soil in a thousand truckloads to a landfill about 200 miles away, or bury it on site in a plastic-lined, 1.3-acre landfill.

Alarmed by the ultimatum, residents called in Paul E. Stamets, author of “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.”

Typically, contaminated soil is hauled off, buried or burned. Using the mushroom method, Mr. Stamets said, it is put in plots, strewn with straw and left alone with mushroom spawn. The spawn release a fine, threadlike web called mycelium that secretes enzymes “like little Pac-Mans that break down molecular bonds,” Mr. Stamets said. And presto: toxins fall apart.

In January, Mr. Stamets came down from Fungi Perfecti, his mushroom farm in Olympia, Wash. He walked the three-mile coastline at the site, winding around rocky coves on wind-swept bluffs where grass has grown over an airstrip but barely conceals the ash piles. It was “one of the most beautiful places in the world, hands down,” he said.

Quick to caution against easy remedies — “I am not a panacea for all their problems” — he said he had hope for cleaning up dioxin and other hazardous substances on the site. “The less recalcitrant toxins could be broken down within 10 years.”

At least two dioxin-degrading species of mushroom indigenous to the Northern California coast could work, he said: turkey tail and oyster mushrooms. Turkey tails have ruffled edges and are made into medicinal tea. Oyster mushrooms have domed tops and are frequently found in Asian food.

Local mushroom enthusiasts envision the site as a global center for the study of bioremediation that could even export fungi to other polluted communities.

“Eventually, it could be covered in mushrooms,” said Antonio Wuttke, who lives in neighboring Mendocino and describes his occupation as environmental landscape designer, over a cup of organic Sumatra at the Headlands Coffeehouse.

The proposal is not without critics, however.

“There still needs to be further testing on whether it works on dioxin,” said Edgardo R. Gillera, a hazardous substances scientist for the State Department of Toxic Substances Control. “There has only been a handful of tests, in labs and field studies on a much smaller scale. I need to see more studies on a larger scale to consider it a viable option.”

On April 14, at a packed City Council meeting, an environmental consultant hired by the city voiced skepticism, citing a study finding that mushrooms reduced dioxins by only 50 percent. Jonathan Shepard, a soccer coach, stood up and asked: “Why ‘only’? I think we should rephrase that. I think we should give thanks and praise to a merciful God that provided a mushroom that eats the worst possible toxin that man can create.

Jim Tarbell, an author and something of a sociologist of the Mendocino Coast, said the enthusiasm for bioremediation showed a change in the culture at large.

We are trying to move from the extraction economy to the restoration economy,” Mr. Tarbell said. “I think that’s a choice that a broad cross-section of the country is going to have to look at.”

At the April 14 meeting, Georgia-Pacific promised to finance a pilot project. Roger J. Hilarides, who manages cleanups for the company, offered the city at least one 10-cubic-yard bin of dioxin-laced soil and a 5-year lease on the site’s greenhouse and drying sheds for mushroom testing. And the City Council said it would approve the landfill but only if it came with bioremediation experiments.

So, sometime later this year, Mr. Stamets is scheduled to begin testing a dump truck’s load of dioxin-laced dirt in Fort Bragg.

“One bin. Ten cubic yards. That’s a beginning,” said Dave Turner, a Council member. “I have hope — I wouldn’t bet my house on it — but I have a hope we can bioremediate this.”

Fungus Fair in Oakland this weekend (Dec 1-2), featuring Paul Stamets

“A Celebration of Wild Mushrooms

* 1-2 December 2007
* Saturday: 10 am to 6 pm — Sunday: 12 pm to 5 pm
* Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Streets, Oakland

“In the San Francisco Bay Area, when the first rains tease up the chanterelles and porcini, fungus lovers head to the “Fungus Fair: A Celebration of Wild Mushrooms” at the Oakland Museum of California. The Fair, hosted by the museum and the Mycological Society of San Francisco (MSSF), provides information on the uses and abuses of fungi, with displays and exhibits on ecology, toxicology, and cultivation. Arrays of identification tables display locally collected mushrooms. Campsite gourmands learn how to serve up the safe and scrumptious species through identification tutorials, cooking demonstrations, and sales of recipe books, soups, snacks, and fresh edibles. Watch renowned Bay Area chefs prepare dishes like matsutakes & roasted cauliflower in coriander cream or sautéed caramel candy cap pears and dentelles.

“The Oakland Museum of California, 10 & Oak Streets in Oakland, is one block from the Lake Merritt BART and a few blocks from Highway 880.

“Admission is $8 general, $5 seniors/students with ID, and free for members, kids five and under, and Oakland City employees. A special two-day pass is available for $12 at
www.museumca.org/tickets

“The weekend event is a rare chance to pore over displays of remarkable
native mushrooms and see how they can be used to dye paper and
clothing, treat cancer and HIV, and add flavor to many foods. Attend a
slide talk or use a microscope. Highly recommended for curious kids!
Mycologists will be on hand both days to answer questions and identify
unknown specimens for visitors.

“Mushroom munchers can learn to recognize and prepare edible fungi from
cookbook and food vendors and the Fair’s popular cooking
demonstrations. Local chefs will prepare dishes with fresh fungi in an
outdoor kitchen on Saturday and Sunday.

“During the Fair, the MSSF presents slide shows on mushroom hunting and
identification. Paul Stamets, an advocate of the medicinal properties
of mushrooms, will give talks on the role of mushrooms in ecological
restoration (Saturday, 4 p.m.) and the mind-altering psychotropic
species (Sunday, 3:30 p.m).

“Fungus-Filled Family Fun! Mushroom crafts and Fair tours for kids take
place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 4
p.m.

“Fair vendors will have fresh wild mushrooms, cultivation kits, books,
clothing, posters, and other mushroom-centric items available all
weekend.

“The Mycological Society of San Francisco is an all-volunteer, nonprofit
organization dedicated to the promotion of educational and scientific
activities involving mushrooms. Founded in 1950, the MSSF is the
largest regional mushroom society in the U.S. The Society awards annual
scholarships, tracks local mycological species, and assists Bay Area
poison control centers. It also leads mushroom identification walks and
works to preserve cultural traditions of mushroom collecting. Visit
http://www.mssf.org for details.”