Becky and I just got back from a trip through some of the NPS administered lands in Southern Utah. We camped our way from Arches to Zion. One of the really great things was being able to see the stars so clearly at night. Of the parks we visited, Natural Bridges and Bryce Canyon had the darkest night skies.
You can see more photos of the night sky on flickr.
I just returned from a week at Anderson Ranch, where I took a printmaking workshop with Jennifer Ghormley. The workshop was a lot of fun, and the overall experience of being at the Ranch was a gift. I met many amazing people, and having a great space to work in and try out ideas made it nearly impossible to sleep during the week. Much more will come out of this once I have the time to unpack and build on the experience.
Snapshots are going up in the ranch photo set.
I spent last weekend in Wonder Valley in the Mojave as part of the Mapping the Desert symposium organized by UCIRA and the Sweeney Art Gallery. While there, I had the great opportunity to meet with artists from other UC campuses, and to encounter a number of aspects of the desert. These encounters led to early thoughts on themes the desert elicited from me during my stay: salt, the development of journey as a shareable artwork, and the not-so-serious Zombie Christians or doing what you ought not.
The first thing that struck me in the desert was the salt-tree in front of our campsite. The tree—a tamarisk—had large crystals of salt coating its leaves.
Salt manifests wherever there is water in the desert, and plants growing in oases need to be halophilic to survive. I am interested in systems where halophiles could be operating benevolently on behalf of less salt-tolerant species, and in the exoskeleton that the halophiles produce as they grow under mineral-rich conditions.
Scrambling from rock to rock in Joshua Tree National Monument cemented the desire Pete Hawkes and I had to make the journey integral to some of our work. Michael Kimmelman’s essay on The Art of the Pilgrimage brings up how travel to see a work shapes your perception of the work; I think the travel itself could become the work. What better way to share a steep mountain climb than to lead someone on it? Naturally, we would like to have some additional payoff, some tangible work that people who engage in the travel ultimately contribute to. We’re working out the details.
Let’s not forget the crazies who live out in the desert, or the artists who impersonate crazies in the desert. Christmas-tree-like light-up crosses, keep-out signs, and ringing church bells that don’t belong to you. The bells peal loudly in the desert, trailing off into the open space, never bouncing back. Someone else hears and we all scramble for the car. It doesn’t start for a minute that feels much longer, when we finally drive off into the space, becoming a glowing light on the horizon.
More images from the weekend are available on flickr.
After three years away, I made it back to China to see a friend and do some exploring in Sichuan. The trip was eventful, logistics were a bit stressful due to my limited Chinese, and I’m not sure how to write about it. For now, I offer a pictorial overview of our itinerary, with some captions:
Our first stop in China was Shanghai. Lyn picked us up from the airport at night and drove us through the steel-sided canyons around highways under construction into the city. We spent about five days in the city before
Bicycles near Moganshan Lu art district
Huangpu River, from the Bund
View from the World Financial Center
Bei Si Ta, Suzhou
Chengdu served as a home-base for travel in Sichuan. Since we had a short schedule, we weren’t able to travel too far, but we went to some pretty awesome locations. For potential travelers, I recommend staying in a hotel near the “Tourism Distribution Center.”
Closed Temple, Leshan
Qingcheng Shang, the birthplace of Taoism
Return to Shanghai
We made it back to Shanghai in time to celebrate Lyn’s birthday after a quick stop in Anhui province to climb Huangshan.
Daytrip to Huangshan
Lyn’s Photo Studio
You can see more/larger photos of the trip in my China collection (or Becky’s photostream, if she gets around to it) on flickr.
I took a drive around town after meeting Chandler McWilliams at UCLA today. I went east on Wilshire to downtown, north up Hollywood to Mulholland Dr on which I drove west as far as I could. Rain poured, causing small rivers to run down the roads ascending the hills. The sky cleared by the time I reached Mulholland, allowing me to enjoy a hike around Runyon Canyon park. It was beautiful. Unfortunately, the rain forced the closure of Mulholland where it turned into a dirt road, and I was forced to return to Venice via Sepulveda rather than continuing on to Topanga.