We are pleased to post that GOLDMINES! is moving in an expanded form from Exhibit Hall 2, CLUI, Wendover to the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, NM. David, Pat and I want to sincerely thank all of the folks that support this outstanding space and especially Curator Erin Elder and Preperator Sean Di Ianni for all their assistance and confidence in our work. Information on the show and opening reception is included in the image below. We’re extremely excited to keep showing this work at such a great institution as CCA – ZACATECAS!!!
These are some impressions of the GOLDMINES! opening by David Jones, Patrick Kikut, and Shelby Shadwell at the CLUI site in Wendover, Nevada, 2012. It is a journey to get there, no way around it. But the journey, from whatever mode or direction, primes the viewer’s palette for the art that these three have created using the landscape and history of Nevada as muse. Driving from Reno, east on I-80 to Wendover, a line from the 1969, Paul Bowles poem “Polemos” came to mind: “Landscapes are absurd until obeyed.” What is true in Morocco is true in the American West. This is harsh terrain, and the human use, interaction, exploitation. . . (choose your own verb) all have one thing in common: None of it is easy. Wimps should stay home.
Wendover is a schizophrenic town. Half in Nevada and half in Utah. Just imagine a City Council meeting there. The states’ border intersect the main drag 10 feet east for the wall of the Nugget Casino and Hotel, dividing the hedonist haven that Nevada can be and the more conservative Utah. It is a border town/truck stop on I-80, a defunct army air base (with its own unique place the story of the USA’s victory over Japan in WW II), a gaming and resort destination, a frequent location for the Motion Picture Industry, and a gateway to the spectacular Utah Salt Flats. All of these elements figure into the Gold Mines exhibit.
Shelby Shadwell’s contributions to the show are video and sculptural. The video is a loop of two separate scenes. The first is of Patrick Kikut walking out on the Salt Flats and putting a homemade Survival Box on the flats. The next is of Shelby and his partner walking out on the same Flats and engaging in the reproductive act. The first scene is accompanied by a sound track of boots walking on a salt field, the second of sound of Mr. and Mrs. Shadwell doin’ it on salty terrain. The sound effect of the first video was cleverly rendered by Shelby stepping on fortune cookies. You’ll have to ask his partner about the sound track on the second loop. (I hear they are expecting soon, could it be conceived on the salt flats? It would be a good story) The camera is fixed for both scenes, but the sound track, bleach white foreground, and Caribbean water blue horizon, and the action of the actors give the familiar visual a fresh interpretation. As the actors move farther and farther away from the camera, their figures change shape in the way that heat and mirage alter perspective.
His sculpture piece is more self-referential and . . . . . mineral. It is 4000 boxes of matches stacked up against the west wall of the gallery in a tiered, topographic formation. To me, the formation is suggestive of the tiered scars left on the hills of mining sites and Aztec pyramid construction. But the media. . .sulfur, wood sticks, and match box image add layers to the piece. Sulfur and wood are elemental, yet the match box is complete artifice. It is a photograph of Patrick laying on the salt flat, arms outstretched, and his hat over his face. Some may say it is a Christ pose; I don’t. The symmetric repetition of the boxes, all aligned in the same way, conjured associations of salt crystals ossifying into hardened, fixed shapes. Again, the interplay of the animal and the mineral gets to the gist of Shelby’s contribution to this CLUI project.
David Jones’ instillation references the Movie Industry and its effect on Wendover. It is more Man vs. Man that Shelby’s. He has created a movie set style false wall where the narrative is not the set or the action, but rather what is behind it. There lay empty bottles, what looks like a jacked up box spring, and graffiti. This begs the what’s real and not real conundrum. Is it what we see on a movie screen, or the hard scrabble life of those who use the detritus as a makeshift homeless camp? Coming from Southern California, I was struck with the memory of the Manson Family living in abandoned western sets in the Mojave Desert. What is the story behind the people who made, inhabited, and then abandoned the site?
Anchoring the exhibit is a series of oil paintings and mixed media pieces by Patrick Kikut. The oil paintings can be broadly categorized by subject matter: landscapes, mines, and salt flats/survival box, while there are some outlier pieces of Wendover and the artists’ living/working quarters. The landscapes capture the denuded rust, grey, blue and beige palate of Nevada’s enormous peaks and basins. What strikes me here is the progression from the wide frame panorama devoid of human interference, to the scars in the hillside created by large scale mining, to the close up of a survival box in the middle of a salt basin. To my memory, there are no figures in the paintings, yet past, present, and future human activities haunt the images. From a viewer’s perspective, the images can reinforce the Wasteland idea of the Great Basin, and, simultaneously, celebrate the efforts humanity has made in getting a toehold in this unforgiving terrain.
It just occurred to me that the mixed media pieces that accurately seize the scope of Patrick’s contribution to the show: from outer space to specific wooden survival boxes placed out in the Nevada desert. Patrick has enlarged Google Earth images of north eastern Nevada and the Utah Salt Flats and has placed a survival box somewhere within the image. Next to each image, there is a replica of the box that has been placed therein. This kind of cosmic scavenger hunt allows for wonderfully speculative conversation about the contents of the boxes, the people who will one day find them and, and what they will do with the contents. Wendover locals say that goods belonging to the Donner Party are still out on the Flats. They seriously misjudged the distance across the Flats and had to jettison cargo along the way. Ostensibly, this was one of the first of several fatal miscalculations made by the party. Patrick’s boxes connect him to the few who have not stopped to look at the Flats from the edge, snapped a picture for screen saver possibilities and left. He went in, left his piece, and returned. It all sounds so mythical.
Overall, GOLDMINES! is an exceptional exhibit that fuses the distinct personalities of the three artists to the territory in and around Wendover, Nevada. While the region is such a large part of the exhibit, I think that the show would travel well to other venues. I am thinking that the contrast from the high desert to the emerald green of Seattle, Portland, or San Francisco would entice wide audiences there. Congratulations to Shelby, David, and Patrick. Your thought, sweat, and talent have hit pay dirt in Wendover. CLUI should also be recognized for providing the space and other resources. What a great institution.
- Shane Kikut
My part of this project is supported in part by a grant from Wyoming Arts Council, through funding from the Wyoming State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, and I cannot thank them enough for the assistance. I tell my students all the time, “making art is expensive,” and I certainly know from experience. This was one of the most financially demanding projects I have ever undertaken: I had to acquire an HD TV, Blu-Ray player and burner thousands of custom made matchbooks, dead bugs and fortune cookies, not to mention all the previous support for the equipment, hardware and editing software. Our arts organizations are national treasures for helping artists do what they do, and I hope you will support them in kind. http://wyoarts.state.wy.us/
I have to say, after a huge week or extremely demanding work for the three of us, the exhibition looks just great. We really appreciate the opportunity to express our creative research in this location above all others. We would like to provide you with an idea of how the show came together for the opening in this post and remind you that the exhibit will remain up for some time if you are passing through the Great American West on I-80 this summer. The goat roast for our opening did not turn out as delicious as anticipated but was mostly symboic in the first place (the Ghosts of Wendover must be fed). The following represents the show but does not do it justice as it would in person so we hope you can make it out to see the exhibit.
Well, we arrived in Wendover again, and it’s been as great as ever (Zacatecas!). We wanted to give everyone an idea of our week installing and opening the show in Exhibition Hall #2 at the Center for Land Use Interpretation with a couple of new posts. It was an incredible experience all the way from our residency last summer and our recent exhibit. By the way, you can find a wealth of information about the whole center and program at this link: http://clui.org/.
Our first order of business, like all good and thoughtful participants, was to contribute to the good of the residency. Pat went ahead to patch and paint the gallery space while Dave fixed the roof in 100+ degree heat and direct sunlight. Since I have a particular aversion to questionable heights, I mostly just provided minimal support, but I applaud my colleagues on their ability to kick ass in those conditions. Next, we set up the show in regular artistic fashion with a ton of delicious food and fellowship as you can see from the photos of carnitas tostadas and our excellence at the modern sport of horshoes.
Promotion for an exhibition is important, even in the slightly lower visual art traffic of Wendover, so Dave and Pat were busy stamping our promotional cards and matchbooks for strategic delivery across the town. Later, we decided a four person bike tour of the region warrented our full attention, thanks to previous residents of this fine program. Wendover is indeed the most interesting location on earth whether you like it or not.
It was always our intention to return to Wendover to exhibit our creative research from the 2011 residency in the summer of 2012, and we are pleased to announce our plans. As you can see from the recent posts, we have continued to work diligently to meet our goals for the show. We will be heading down on Monday, July 9th to install for the week and look forward to an extraordinarily casual opening reception sometime during the evening of Saturday, July 14. If anyone’s heading out on I-80 during that time, please make sure to stop by and see what’s going on – we have included a link to directions in this post. For the reception, we want to roast a whole goat trash can style as an extra incentive. If you can’t make it, just know that the show should be up most of the summer, and you can stop by CLUI any time to check it out. Keep an eye out for our promotional materials in the mail, and feel free to let others know. Thanks.
“GOLD MINES!” – A Record from Wendover, UT
New Work by David Jones, Patrick Kikut and Shelby Shadwell
Center for Land Use Interpretation – Wendover Residence Program
1130 East 700 South Building 1860
Wendover, UT 84083
Exhibition Hall # 2
Opening Reception the Evening of Saturday, July 14
“I am really excited about returning to Wendover and CLUI a year later now that I am close to completing much of the work that I began while I was there. It will be great to revisit the site and CLUI facilities after working on a body of work that has been in progress for the better part of a year just to see how my thoughts and perspectives related to the work and place have changed. I also look forward to continuing a vein work based off of my experience of the salt flats and the Wendover airbase, so a return trip is in order.”
“The work I plan to have for ‘GOLDMINES!’ is a piece that I wanted to make specifically for our show that was a little more spontaneous than my other work. It will be somewhat of a site-specific installation made for the gallery at CLUI as well as a response to Pat and Shelby’s work. One of the lasting impressions I took away from my experience was how much the salt flats and Wendover Air Field have made their way into our culture as a place that exists in our minds as “nowhere”. This has happened through movies, magazine ads, and commercials that have been shot there on site. This notion of “nowhere” is an underlying theme that has always been present in much of current work. I think it is interesting that in much of the contemporary west the notion of “nowhere” is romanticized, almost a selling point in a way but for the most part in reality does not exist. So with this piece I wanted to explore this notion in more depth while responding to the rest of the work in the show.”