You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Great Salt Lake’ tag.

The pleasures of the minimal. Just the bare thing. Raw, open, essential. Unvarnished.

Here are two minimal recent moments. One was indoors, at Carroll and Sons Gallery in Boston, and the other was the outdoors, in Utah.

Damien Hoar De Galvan’s show, I Wish I had Something to Say, is like a cool drink in your hand on a hot day. I was delighted, engaged and energized by the back room at Carroll and Sons transformed by this motley collection of his small works. The wit and tone is perfectly pitched—neither self conscious nor manipulative, but thoughtfully playful with a quiet strength. The tension between the visual and the languaged that exists in work of this kind is a very fine line, and it is tricky to navigate. Going off track results in pandering on the one side or falling into the arcane on the other.

Clearly DHDG is an artist drinking from the same stream as Richard Tuttle*, Bill Walton** and one recently exposed facet of my friend George Wingate***, three artists whose work never grows tiresome. But DHDG is, as each of these three, engaging in this form in his own way. Through July 30.


A wall of simple images on paper—unframed and immediate

My second minimalist moment: The desert landscape in Utah. It is elemental to me—the light, the sky, the landscape. In a recent review in Art News of my show in Santa Fe earlier this year, the reviewer put it this way:

Deborah Barlow lives and works near Boston, but is so starkly, deliberately, ocularly a creature of the West—where she spent her youth and formative years—that one risks confounding the senses even before peeling back the first layer of brusque sensuality that clings to the surface of her paintings.

The desert is inside, that I know.


Great Salt Lake, from the southern end of the lake


The view near Saltair


Wheat fields near Lehi


Another Lehi view


Double rainbow! I never see these in the East


The light after a storm: Soft and yet acidic

_________

Other minimalists:

*I have written a number of posts about Richard Tuttle on Slow Muse:

Scale it Up, Scale it Down
Tuttle Therapy
Textilia
Go Broad, or Go Deep

**Bill Walton‘s posthumous show in Philadelphia is reviewed here.

***George Wingate‘s installation from earlier this year is reviewed here.

I continue to be caught up and compelled by the ongoing saga of the Spiral Jetty. It is a touchstone for so many compelling personal themes: the unique power that is an art pilgrimage site (Bilbao, the Ajanta Caves, Uluru in Australia–there are many art/sacred sites that also move me deeply); the geographic connection I feel to the land in Utah and my family’s multi-generational heritage there; the large scale power of Smithson’s construction to frame and define that exquisite desert expanse (not unlike Wallace Stevens’ jar in Tennessee*); the ongoing organic evolution of the structure as the years leave their marks, like the coat of crystallized salt, on the jetty stones. Just to name a few.

Here is a recent update:

The Great Salt Lake continues to shrink. Today its official measurement dipped slightly to an elevation of exactly 4,194 feet. The last time it was lower was way back in the 1960s.

The lake was at precisely this same level four years ago; then and today, the lowest since record lows in the ‘60s. But this year it’s a real surprise because we had a relatively wet winter.

The Great Salt Lake is now surrounded by hundreds of square miles of dried mud and salt.

The $25-million-a-year brine shrimp industry is scrambling to find usable harbors. They dredged this one at a cost of $200,000. Brine Shrimp Industry spokesman Don Leonard says, “It was a big surprise to us. I mean Lake Powell went up 30 feet, right? But the Great Salt Lake’s going down.”

Robert Smithson’s world-famous artwork the Spiral Jetty is now hundreds of yards from the lake it was sculpted in. It still inspires artists. We encountered a man in a suit of mirrors, San Francisco based Austrian Gustav Troger, at the heart of the Spiral Jetty standing on salt instead of water.

A decent winter snowfall was blunted by a hot, dry summer. Eric Millis, with the Utah Division of Water Resources, says, “With all that combined, yeah the lake has just continued to drop.”

Lee Sporleder opens the gates at a remote, aging facility on the west side of the lake, a pump house built in the 1980s when the lake was flooding. The $65-million state pumps ran less than two years.

The lake is now a dozen miles away across a vast expanse of salt, but the pumps get monthly maintenance in case they’re ever needed again.

It would be a long way off, but we’ve got a big investment here, and there’s no sense letting it go to waste,” says Sporleder, with the Department of Water Resources.

But you know what they say in Utah. If you don’t like the weather, wait, ah, a few years maybe, and it’ll change. Pretty good odds, eventually the lake will make a comeback.

In the ‘60s it was 2 ½ feet lower than today. In the ‘80s it went up 20 feet. Leonard says, “Well the long-term worry is that as the population of the Wasatch Front grows that the people will drink more and more water, use more and more water, and less and less will get to the lake.”

State experts disagree. Millis says, “The impacts of additional water development to meet the growing population’s needs will have a minimal impact on the lake. We’re calculating on the order of less than a half a foot.”

The brine shrimpers worry the saltier water may hurt the shrimp. Duck hunters are afraid the ducks will fly away.

For the rest of us, it’s a drama of nature, a lake that defies efforts to control it, whether it goes too high or too low.

John Hollenhorst
KSL.com

*Wallace Stevens’ infamous short poem, “Anecdote of The Jar”:

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion every where.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

Here’s a ray of hope on the Spiral Jetty preservation front. This article by Patty Henetz appeared on February 21 in The Salt Lake Tribune (and presents a much more hopeful view than a similar piece that ran in the other Salt Lake paper, The Deseret News.)

jetty.jpg

Artists outraged at the possibility of oil drilling near the Spiral Jetty have inundated state agencies with e-mail protests. Now they have a new advocate: the Utah Department of Community and Culture.

The department is working closely with the Department of Natural Resources, which is now reviewing an application from a Canadian company to set up drilling barges and oil rigs in the lake’s Little Valley Harbor, five miles southwest of Rozel Point and the Spiral Jetty.

“This is very important,” said Palmer DePaulis, Community and Culture executive director and a former mayor of Salt Lake City. “We want to represent the [art community’s] interests so everyone’s voice can be heard.”

State agencies have received more than 3,500 letters and e-mails from artists and conservationists around the world who thought the threat to Robert Smithson’s massive earthworks piece was out of harm’s way under a year-old settlement.

In May 2006, conservation groups including Western Resource Advocates, the Sierra Club’s Utah chapter, Friends of Great Salt Lake and Great Salt Lake Audubon reached a settlement with the state that pulled back oil and gas leases in the northwest arm of the lake. The agreement covered 116,000 acres, but left out 55,000 acres.

But it turns out that Pearl Montana Exploration and Production LTD of Calgary, Alberta, holds three 2003 leases on the exempt acres. On Jan. 11, the company submitted to Oil, Gas and Mining an application to drill two wells from barges anchored in the lake.

Natural Resources executive director Mike Styler said today that review of the drilling application would include examining the company’s plans for spill control, blowout prevention and other safeguards.

DePaulis said his agency got involved because thousands of the letters of opposition were coming to the state museums and art division. The move to cooperate with DNR was a mutual effort between the two agencies, he said.

Smithson’s 1,500-foot-long basalt and soil earthworks sculpture that coils in the Great Salt Lake is an artwork of global significance. Drilling in the area occurred before and after Smithson finished his work in 1970.

The state must honor mineral rights. But leases can be canceled if the operator violates the lease terms, or if the state decides there is “imminent significant irreversible threat to the public trust” guaranteed in the Utah Constitution.

I’ll keep you posted.