The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Report from the Great Basin


703 Spiral tire form, created by artist William Wylie, on the tarmac as seen from the roof of the CLUI Wendover residency unit. CLUI photo by Steve RowellWITH THE SPIRAL JETTY CURRENTLY above water, there have been several CLUI-led visits to the site, which is four hours from the CLUI interpretive center in Wendover -in the neighborhood, by Great Salt Lake standards. (Park Service staff at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, which most people stop at on their way to the Jetty, say that Jetty visitation peaked a few months ago at fifty people a day). In April, Matthew Coolidge led a group from the University of Utah on an excursion to some unusual sites on the eastern side of the Great Salt Lake, including the Westinghouse Zirconium Plant, the Little Mountain Test Annex, and Trestlewood, on the tip of Promontory Point, where the wooden piles from the railway's defunct part of the Lucin Cutoff are being salvaged for use as a construction material. Then it was out to the Spiral Jetty, to begin a project examining the history of the objects that surround the Jetty, such as the abandoned oil jetty, the old wrecked trailer, and the immobile amphibious vehicle. Due to the increased visitation and heightened attention of the visitors to the Jetty, these once functional objects are becoming iconic cultural artifacts as well. This is an example of a perceptual phenomenon we call the “land art spill-over effect.”

It's been another busy spring at the Center’s compound in Wendover, with residents coming by from near and far. Cathy Ward and Eric Wright, artists from England, visited for a few weeks, and retraced some of the Donner-Reed party’s trek across the flats, as part of their study of folklore and American mythology. Elizabeth Withstandley and Patrick Ford worked on a film in the area, and Vicky Sambunaris, a photographer from New York, spent a few weeks photographing. Other visitors and users of the facility this summer include Christian Stayner, a graduate student from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, William Wylie, from the University of Virginia, Paula Poole and Brett Stalbaum from UC San Diego, and an inventive German group known as e-team, which works on Utah land it buys off of eBay.

This fall will be busy too, with classes and more residents visiting Wendover, straight through until the beginning of November. The Land Arts of the American West class will be stopping by for a week long visit, as they did last year. This remarkable field session takes students in art and design from the University of Texas and University of New Mexico on a semester- long field trip, looking at art and cultural sites in the landscape. They use the CLUI facilities at Wendover as a base to look at sites of note in the region, and to work on individual interpretive projects. The recent work party in Wendover saw visitors such as: writer and CLUI associate Bill Fox who was presenting and visiting with students from the Land Arts of the American West class mentioned above and Deborah Stratman and Rob Ray from Chicago, working on Deborah's transmission/reception tower located at another building in the CLUI/Wendover complex.

A graduate class from the California College of the Arts will use Wendover as a base for a week in September, as part of a course on landscape curating being taught by CLUI Program Director Matthew Coolidge.

704 Ryan McKinley, the Center's Geographic Information Systems Program Director, takes time out to use the solar-powered Southbase Waterbike (built by municipalWORKSHOP for Simparch's Clean Livin' project) to wash doodles off the Enola Gay hangar. CLUI photo

Upcoming Events at Wendover:

There will be an open house for CLUI Wendover, scheduled for Saturday September 18th, the same day as the always entertaining Wendover Airfield Airshow. Look for new exhibits by CLUI Wendover Residence Program alumni Wayne Barrar, Jessica Sowles, and Catherine Harris, as well as several permanent installations and ongoing projects, like the Wendover Airbase Autotour, Deborah Stratman’s radio tower, and Simparch’s Clean Livin' project at Southbase.

In early October, the CLUI will be leading a public bus tour called A Tour of the Monuments of the Great American Void, which will look at the Great Salt Lake Desert as phantasmagoric miasma, inspiring things like Spiral Jetty, Sun Tunnels, and radioactive waste burying. The tour is part of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’ retrospective about Robert Smithson, opening in September. Tickets will go on sale in September through the MOCA box office.