2012 Land Arts Journey 2 Summary
Land Arts 2012 at Texas Tech concluded its second journey on Tuesday 3 October 2012 with the dedication and intensity it began in late August due in large part to the exceptional group of participants are: Zoe Berg (artist), Katy Chrisler (poet), Cade Hammers (architect), Martin Medina (architect), Maura Murnane (artist), Colleen O’Brien (artist), Jigga Patel (architect), Nicholas Pierce (poet), Arie Ruvinsky (artist) and Cecilia Stewart (architect). Jose Villanueva (Land Arts 2009 Alum) was a tireless and outstanding Program Assistant and Chris Taylor continued to direct the program at Texas Tech.
Breaks between journeys always alternate between not enough time for necessary correspondence, bill paying, and deep cleaning, and too much time away from the immediacy of working and living in the field. Everyone was eager to return to the patina of the road as we ventured through West Texas to begin a slower pace voyage with a focus on sites to make work. We were out for twenty-seven days and traveled around 2,500 miles overland. During that time we were visited by a string of outstanding field guests: Land Arts alum and Design Build Adventure member Adrian Larriva, artist Boyd Elder, filmmaker Sam Douglas, artist Amy Hauft, artist and Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at UT Austin Jack Risley, Texas Tech Landmark Arts director Joe Arredondo, poet John Poch, and writer Charles Bowden.
Before we set out for the field Upe Flueckiger of Texas Tech spoke with us about his research on the architecture of Donald Judd partly because our first stop was Marfa, Texas. We camped, as usual, at the wonderfully evolving El Cosmico where Adrian Larriva was working. Filmmaker Sam Douglas camped with us to gain more insight for Moving Mountains, his film in the works about the Land Arts program, and we screened Citizen Architect under the stars. Adrian Larriva talked to us about his work with Design Build Adventure—projecting slides on the side of a van—to help the crew get a handle on the evolution of El Cosmico. It had been a while since Land Arts was in Marfa for open house weekend, so in addition to tours of the Chinati and Judd foundations there were a host of events including a lecture by curator Lynne Cooke, visits from guests Amy Hauft, Jack Risley, Joe Arredondo, John Poch, Boyd Elder, Ester Partegás, and a bevy of Land Arts alumni. It was a grand and busy gathering with time in short supply.
On the way to our next site we paused at Prada Marfa to consider its evolving condition, and we stopped in El Paso for another wonder fiesta hosted by Jesse and Irma Larriva. The next site was Cabinetlandia in the Chihuahuan Desert scrub east of Deming, New Mexico. As a work site it provided a chance for students to engage the Cabinet National Library as well as invest time in their work. Writer Charles Bowden spent a day and a half with us their relaying the trajectory of his recent work looking deeply into the US/Mexico border conditions.
From there we moved up into the Gila Wilderness camping alongside the dry Mimbres River—usually there is a small trickle of water. Another work site it expanded time for students to develop their work across many avenues from construction and documentation to performance and video. Leaving the Gila we stopped for lunch at the Tyrone Mine Reclamation overlook to see the limited progress there. The next stop was up in the Chiricahua Mountains to experience the realities of the sky islands of the Sonoran Desert and the aftermath of a major forest fire that swept through the region a year and a half ago. Work continued.
On the way to our next stop the need for bathing had risen palpably so we stopped at the un-swimmable Roper Lake State Park to avail ourselves of their cold water showers and outdoor hot pool. The next stop was a new and somewhat provisional site in the Tonto National Forest and a visit to the Coolidge Dam on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. The dam was completed in 1928 and demonstrates the complicated and often fraught circumstances of large scale water projects in the west. When we were there the lake was officially closed because it was only holding 1% of it’s capacity. The fish that remained struggled at the surface of the water gasping for oxygen.
After a resupply in Show Low, Arizona we set out for our final base camp on the edge of the Plains of San Agustin, New Mexico. A work site that also served as a base to visit the Very Large Array and The Lightning Field. As the days grew shorter and the nights colder our time in the field drew to a close and we rolled back into Lubbock on 30 October to unload the vans and complete a major cleaning and sorting of the gear so it could be stored for next field year. A select group of images from Journey 2 are included below.