Saturday, September 23, 2017

Spiral Jetty

The northern edge of Great Salt Lake is pretty desolate. Promontory Point is little more than mountains and rocks and sagebrush extending down to the salt flats that rim the lake. The edge of the lake is marked by a rocky beach and salt-encrusted sand. The north arm of the lake is cut off from the rest of Great Salt Lake by a railroad causeway and is much saltier than the rest of the lake. The high salinity supports purplish bacteria that tint the entire arm of the lake red.

This is the obvious place to create public art.

The Spiral Jetty was created by Robert Smithson in 1970 (he died in an airplane crash a few years later while scouting out another land art site) and has become a pretty iconic example of this kind of sculpture. It disappeared for a couple of decades when lake levels rose in the 1980s and 1990s, but has since re-emerged. As matter of fact, the lake has now fallen well below the sculpture and there is some question as to whether it will ever rise this high again. The site itself is owned by the Dia Art Foundation. Everything else around here is pretty sparse public and private rangeland.

Dia Art Foundation: Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty

I wasn't sure M would be very excited about yet another gravel road in the middle of nowhere - and this was quite a bit nearer the middle of nowhere than some of our previous forays. It turns out it was only16 miles of gravel beyond the end of pavement (at the Golden Spike National Historic Site) and the road was both easier to follow and in better condition than I had feared. It still wouldn't be a good place to learn that your engine cooling fans weren't working right.

I had hesitated to mention this idea to M, but was prompted to do so two evenings earlier when I discovered I could order a Spiral Jetty IPA (Epic Brewing, Salt Lake City) at the Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder.

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