Saturday, July 12, 2008

Spiral Jetty-ness

Last week we made a pilgrimage to the Spiral Jetty. I've been there before, but not for a few years and I wanted to see how it was doing. The jetty is the artist Robert Smithson's masterpiece. It's Utah's claim to fame in all the art books. It's the best-known example of a post-modern earthwork--a type of sculpture that defies museum culture and evokes the mounds and monuments of ancient civilizations. And really, it's just a darn cool piece of art, just about my favorite piece of art on the whole planet. It's a shame it takes 3 hours--the last of them on a road so bumpy you're swallowing your dental fillings by the end--to get there. But it's also a good thing it's in such a remote spot. How else could we experience a masterpiece and spend an hour looking at it, walking inside it, feeling its surface, smelling and tasting the salt of the air around it entirely by ourselves?

I'm writing an article about the trip that I hope to sell to a local journal. (Current rate of speed: one hour per paragraph. I hope this picks up.) In the meantime, I'll post some photos to give you a sense of how incredibly beautiful this place is. Ethan declared it an "ugly beauty" and I have to agree. It's a desolate, surreal, unsentimental kind of beauty.

Here's the Jetty from above, coiling out into the lake bed. As we were walking out of the spiral Ethan and I ran into a dude coming in (Ethan later nicknamed him Hippie Dave). Hippie Dave was shirtless, wore a braid of hemp around his neck, and had long straight black hair with the top tied up in a pony tail. He (seriously) bowed to us as we passed and then we struck up a conversation about the place and Smithson's philosophies. What a trip. If you look closely at this photo, at the very center of the spiral, you can see Hippie Dave as we left him, his arms raised up to heaven, communing with the forces of art and nature.

This is Ethan, walking the first coil of the spiral.

This is McKay, dancing in the shallow salt marsh around the jetty. Yes the water really is pink. Smithson described it as the color of pale blood and made references to primordial seas.

More water. I took about a million pictures. Be grateful I'm sparing you the whole slide show.

The basalt rocks on the jetty are covered in salt crystals. Smithson was obsessed with the idea of entropy, the dissolution of order in the natural universe. He died 4 years after completing the jetty. I think he would love to see the way his sculpture is gradually returning to the lake.

Me at the center of the spiral. I'm resisting the urge to crop the heck out of this photo (like maybe show it from the nose up). Trying to keep it real...

The only picture Ken would let me take of him. (You can play a little game of "Where's Waldo Ken" if you'd like).

Gabie eating a Ho Ho after we got back to the car. This is my contribution to the whole "pilgrimage to Spiral Jetty" culture. I take spiral snacks along: this time it was ho ho's and the makings for peanut butter wraps. Last time it was cinnamon rolls. Next time maybe I'll make a whole jelly roll cake.


Anonymous said...

I think it's great that Ethan wore his spiral tie-dye shirt. I think Hippy Dave would approve too.

kyouell said...

I never would have thought to bring spiral snacks. You are inspiring in the details, not just that you take field trips to art.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

What a fab idea to have spiral snacks along with. You're so creative (and pretty!).

FarmerElwood said...

I've never even heard of it! How sad! I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to see it in real life so thanks for the photos. And you're gorgeous by the way. No cropping needed.

Anonymous said...

Spiral foods for future trips:
Cream Savers
spiral cut ham
rotini (corkscrew) pasta salad
Arby's curly fries
thiples (Greek phyllo spirals)

Nan Sheppard said...

That is amazing! Thanks for the photos, I am inspired.

Scribbit said...

That is just . . . cool. WOuld have loved to have seen it myself.

Annette Lyon said...

I may have to bribe the fam to take this trip. What a totally cool sculpture.

Glad you put a pic of yourself; it's nice to put a face to the blog. :)

Ruth's Place said...

Thanks for sharing about such a great place! That is one very cool piece of art.

Julie said...

I always look at it from afar on the way outta Dodge, but have never actually seen it up close. Thanks for sharing!