Sunday, June 7, 2009

Two weeks from today...

...we'll be in a motel room in Brigham City, Utah working on this blog and figuring out how I am going to wake up "early" the following morning. I keep thinking about the line underneath our photograph on the sidebar of this blog: "Journey Started June 08." Last year after venturing through Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon we ended up in Kent, Washington at Robert Morris's Untitled Reclamation Project. I wanted to see it for several reasons. A few years earlier in 2004, my ex-husband and I had plans of visiting as many earthworks as we were able and to publish a book about it. We started in The Netherlands with Robert Smithson's Spiral Hill and Broken Circle. The following year we saw Spiral Jetty and Sun Tunnels. That plan never materialized but the desire persisted.

I wanted to visit Morris's artwork to see if I was still able to carry on with this project on my own. Fortunately, Nancy was as interested as I was and we forged a new plan to create our own projects and collaborate on a journey that would take place in 2009. Last summer we also saw Herbert Bayer's Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks (also in Kent, Washington) with my cousin Donna and my friend and artist Maggie Smith.

Maya Lin's Confluence Project was also on the route. That trip was a precursor to everything that is happening now. Part of it was published in the Spring 2009 Issue of Art Lies. If this blog has offered me one thing before we share it with the world, it has been a most useful forum to hash hair brain ideas out with you, Nancy, and watch them materialize into something possible. Here's to following through. Here's to PBJs and Cake Icing Wars. Here's to going where several people have gone before but in an entirely new way.

"14 June 2008: Robert Morris’s Untitled Reclamation Project, Kent, Washington

Day 17 of the same road trip. Seeing every major earthwork in the American West (and the lesser known ones if they are not out of the way) is #7 on the “before I die” list. I am drawn to the photographs of land art taken just after they were made. The grass hasn’t grown over the freshly formed dirt and they are not enveloped by their surroundings. The differences between contemporary perspectives and the photographs taken four decades earlier are profound.

Robert Morris’s Untitled Reclamation Project is no exception. In 1979, Morris was hired by King County Arts Commission to transform the former Johnston Pit #30 into an artwork from land abused from mining gravel. Today, the suburbs encroach in the distance, the space between them compressed like the perspective in a medieval painting.

Nancy and I followed the desire lines to the center of the sloping form where we picked rye grass and yellow flowers to press in wax paper. I videotaped her running from the bottom of the depression up but only the first two seconds recorded. We stood on opposite sides, dark specks in the landscape, marveling at the city around us, and how little the sounds of traffic were heard.

Every few years goats are rented for a week from nearby Vashon Island to eat the blackberry brambles that slowly cover the earthwork. The houses in the distance become closer, and bring more traffic. Nothing is being done to eliminate halt their invading presence."

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