The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Wendover Report

group of people standing outside CLUI Wendover
Steve Badgett of Simparch shows a Land Arts class around the infrastructure of the Simparch living systems research facility at Southbase, which includes a privy with a view of former bomb bunkers which are now used by the local casinos for records storage. CLUI photo

THE CLUI WENDOVER RESIDENCE PROGRAM 2009 season started with Jan Estep, and her dog, both from Minneapolis. Estep spent her time there researching, photographing, and writing about the Silver Island Mountains north of Wendover, which, as she writes, “rise up like an archipelago in the middle of the Great Salt Lake Desert, surrounded on all sides by salt and mud flats.” Estep produced an illustrated trail map of a 54 mile loop around the mountains, and an essay, written in five parts, that is buried along the trail. The essay is partly a commentary on the local rock graffiti along Interstate 80, and related conceptual land art of the 1970s. The sections of text were put back into the landscape in homage to Nancy Holt’s Buried Poems (1969-71) and John Baldessari’s California Map Project (1969). Estep’s map is available at the CLUI.

Other Residence Program participants over the season included Erika Osborne and her husband, who worked on a series of paintings of the region; New York-based writer Ginger Strand (author of the great Niagara Falls book, Inventing Niagara), who spent some time over the summer working on a book about interstates, focusing on the portion of I-80 between Wendover and Knolls, the longest stretch of interstate without an exit, during her stay in Wendover; Rob Ray and Jen Hofer, who took over Simparch’s Clean Livin’ facility at Southbase for almost two months in the middle of the summer, pedaling their water to and fro on the waterbike; Jen Lyon, who was in residence for much of September and October, working on her films about regional preparedness; Owen Gump, a 2008 resident, who returned to install his project, now on view in Exhibit Hall 2; and Dominic Miller, who made a solar-powered sound sculpture on the edge of the bombing range. Two Land Arts and the American West groups came out in September, back to back, one led by Bill Gilbert of the University of New Mexico, and the other by Chris Taylor, of Texas Tech in Lubbock. Each stayed in Wendover about a week, with students doing projects all over the airbase and on the flats.

exhibit in gallery
On display in Exhibit Hall 1 is the work of Kristin Posehn, a resident in 2007 and 2008, who focused on the story of Metropolis, a remote Nevada city that never was. CLUI photo

The annual CLUI Wendover Work Party was a bit later than usual this year, held in August, enabling an overlap with Speed Week, (which had an impressive turn out too.) Work party participants included Aurora Tang, Jed Lackritz, Philip Weil, Eric Potter, Ben Loescher, Julia Christensen, Lucy Raven, and John Brinton Hogan, as well as Jen Hofer, Rob Ray, in residence at Southbase. One crew worked at Southbase, installing lighting and shoveling out bat guano in the big shed workshop and the Target Hall. Others worked on the small theater in Exhibit Hall 2, repairing hundreds of broken window panes on the Orientation Building, and numerous other exciting and boring projects. Recent residents Sarah Cowles and Alan Smart returned to help, and to work on getting their blimp up in the air. Blake Gordon, former Land Arts student, stopped by and got the webcam going (again). The graduate class of Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts visited in the spring, working on their project about Wendover in film, which included television, YouTube, and other motion-media. After a public screening of the regional films they unearthed, shown at the Studio for Urban Projects in San Francisco, the collection of films went out to a special shelf at the Support Unit in Wendover, to be available for residents learning about the different filmic depictions of the place.

Over the season, CLUI director Matthew Coolidge led a number of trips around the Great Salt Lake for various groups. One trip in October involved getting a helicopter out to the Spiral Jetty, so visitors could see the Jetty as Smithson did. Compounded heliographic spirals in the sunstroking miasma were enjoyed by all. Though many exhibits are open year round in Wendover, the Residence Program shuts down around Thanksgiving, as pipes freeze, and weather turns bitter. It will open up again around April Fools, for another year of activities. ♦

Bonneville salt flats
After a day of racing during Speed Week out on the Bonneville Salt Flats, the line of cars coming off the wide open flats extended out to the vanishing point. CLUI photo