Friday, October 5, 2007

Desert Art

I've done a good bit of travel in the more isolated desert regions of California, Nevada, and Arizona, and have come to the following conclusion: something is badly wrong with most people who live in isolated desert regions.

I'm not kidding. It takes a certain dementia to live over 100 miles from such luxuries as, say, a hospital emergency room or a supermarket. I see no apparent way people in such places can make an honest living, and I strongly suspect many (if not most) of them are living off disability ("Uncle Earl hasn't been right since that mortar landed near him in Vietnam!") or social security payments. From the conversations I had with the residents of such areas, it's clear that many of those people have, as Dr. Phil might put it, "significant issues." Yes, they're colorful characters with a lot of stories to tell, but I get uncomfortable when they start ranting about Hillary Clinton's fleet of black helicopters. . . . . .

But I do have to admit one thing about desert dwellers----they do a fantastic job of recycling junk into art.

Darwin, CA is on the western side of Death Valley, about 30 miles from the Stovepipe Wells entrance to the national park. It's a ghost town----and I'll describe it in a future post----but there are few people remaining there. And they create desert art.

Ah, take a look at this creation: a metal sculpture flower that never needs rain!

This one in Darwin is a little more puzzling. The white structure is a 1960s fiberglass fallout shelter-----you were supposed to cover it with dirt to protect you from radiation----but I can only speculate why the black rocks are there and what they're supposed to represent. Maybe it's a tribute to "The Monolith" in 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Randsburg, CA, is a near-ghost town located on Highway 395 near Red Mountain, CA. There is still some mining activity going on there, and maybe one of those miners created this magnificent faux yucca tree with bottles for leaves and a section of lead pipe for a trunk.

Goldfield, NV is another ghost town I'll eventually post about. Its "Goldfield Hotel" is supposedly one of America's ten most haunted places, but what's really scary about Goldfield is this giant pocket tool that graces its Main Street. Imagine that its owner comes back to Goldfield looking for it. . . . and he's angry that someone took it from him. . . . . . . I don't think that giant would be green or especially jolly.

Near Beatty, NV, is the ghost town of Rhyolite-----a very good one, and subject of another future post----and there is some very clever art along the Rhyolite access road, like a miner and his penguin:

I'm not sure who/what the following is supposed to represent, but I call it Norma Jean of the Desert:

Rhyolite is a ghost town, and everybody knows a ghost town needs ghosts, right?