Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dear Ed Ruscha,

My friend & collaborator Nancy Douthey and I recently completed an earthworks pilgrimage throughout the Western US. We spent three weeks traveling through Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas making art in response to the site-specific works we saw. In addition to being inspired by Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, James Turrell, Michael Heizer, and Walter De Maria, we were also influenced by you.

How does Ed Ruscha fit into the genre of Earthworks? Much of our project deals with what lies "in between" - the landscape and the concept of "place" (literally as seen in the motels where we stay and figuratively as in our roles in each location). This is where your artwork makes its most prominent entry.

My main point in writing you is admittedly a little self-aggrandizing. If I may be so bold, I would like to invite you to take a look at our blog documenting the journey & our sources of inspiration (all to be developed into finished works of art in the immediate future).

At the following link, you will find that Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass became a study in swimming pools and fake doughnuts. Ideally I am searching for a large, fake, chocolate cake (in the style of Wayne Thiebaud) and plan on photographing that as soon as I find the perfect one. Nancy and I wanted to combine an object with the pool that was just as unlikely but less threatening.

Of particular interest is this link where Nancy and I spend our day at Bryce Canyon searching for you and eventually obtain your autograph. That remains one of our favorite projects of the entire trip and certainly opened my mind to exploring new avenues in the art making process.

Your artists’ books have always been an influence long before I catalogued Ian & Fredericka’s collection at Texas Gallery. Nancy and I are making a series of half a dozen booklets documenting the “in between” and publications like Thirty-four Parking Lots are certainly something that we aspire toward.

Although this has nothing to do with Nancy’s and my collaboration (but since this is my one time chance at telling you), your Untitled painting from 1986 of an elephant trudging up a hillside is my all time favorite work of art. I first saw it at your retrospective at the Fort Worth Modern and it continues to haunt me to this day.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for being such an inspiration for both of us.


J. Russell & N. Douthey

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