26 June 2014

Painted Cave and others

Painted Cave State Historic Park

Locate the place.

There are many Chumash art sites in the area, although it is getting fewer as our rocks are generally sandstone and erode quickly. Paint has to have been applied to a sheltered spot with an overhang to remain today and vandalism has been quite enthusiastic at the sites at times. One particularly well sheltered site under an extremely large overhang is simply called Painted Cave and is only a few feet from the often single lane road named for it. A heavy fence protects the opening from the casual passer-by and the vibrant panels, especially where there is a large area of a single color, shows why it is needed to protect the site.

largest panel in Painted Cave
The largest painted area in the cave. Old paintings are covered with new ones in these three colors. The scratched in names of more recent visitors can also be easily seen.

smaller section of paint in circles
A second section of surviving paintings a bit further back.

the first panel again, with a little more painting
The first panel again, but from a slightly different angle and showing some small nearby painting.

Besides this cave, I seem to keep visiting art sites over the last six months. I have been to a few others in the forest that required substantially more hiking and had a bit less paint on them. Most are well known sites with registers. The first is a long, slanted overhang only a few feet deep and only 50 or so feet from the trail.

some paint on a wall
At least two elements of a painting on the overhang. The checkered pattern seems to continue into more shapes that go past the top.

triangles and a character
The bright triangles show another spot of paint, but looking more closely shows a character in the center.

A second site in the same area took quite a bit more effort to get to, but all in the form of meandering well traveled trails. This one is Bear Paw Cave by the register, inside a low and deep overhang. More painting is on other parts of the rock where there are smaller overhangs.

A small piece of lined color on a cave wall.

more red lines
An element remaining in a dark patch. The oxidation in the rock can make it seem like there is a little bit more.

circles on an arch
A few circles left on the inside of an arch on the other side of the same rock. I quite like this one.

Pan on a flute
Another little character on the side of the rock.

mortars by the rock overhang
Mortars in the sandstone near the paintings.

The next I have now been to twice. It has just worked out that way. This is a little way off trail to a large wall that is slightly overhung. It is enough.

line drawing
The single element on the rock wall seems a happy fellow that does not care for symmetry.

The next one did not have a register, so is probably not as well known. It is somewhat off trail. It is just a small rock with an even smaller cave inside. Two painted elements could be made out, the clearer being quite close to a bird nest of mud and spit. Somewhat recent fires had dirtied up some of it, as well.

A sort of caterpillar on the roof of a small hole in a rock. The next is out of frame to the lower right.

three lines
Three lines with curves at the end. This one looks like soot has been added by fires, which could happen if organic debris has built up.

The last is practically on the trail, but just far enough off that most do not notice it as they walk by. Even being pointed at it, I found it hard to find at first, but eventually found three elements in multiple colors.

stick figure, maybe
The easiest element to see for me is the darkest. Part has broken off so now it looks like a Feynman diagram.

two color cross
The black in the cross did not seem at first to be part of the painting, but the shape echos the red so much that I decided it is.

The last element was quite hard to find and my guide though I had found them all before it.

All this makes the easily found and accessed Painted Cave a little more impressive.

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 29 June 2014

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