At Play in the Fields of Fat Boy: Three Wyoming Artists at CLUI Wendover
Wendover, Utah is a town on US 80, on the state line between Utah and Nevada, situated in the salt-flats and desert of the Great Salt Lake. Before the Center for Land Use Interpretation acquired property for an artist’s residence it runs in Wendover, Wendover’s assets included an airfield where training for the atomic bombing missions on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, took place. The Bonneville Salt Flats, also in Wendover, were where British race-car driver Sir Malcolm Campbell set a land-speed record in 1935. (Race-car driving began at Bonneville in the teens. The latest record-holder, Andy Green, achieved a speed of 350.092 mph (563.418 km/h) on 23 August 2006.)
It was 2011, when three University of Wyoming art department colleagues — Patrick Kikut, David Jones and Shelby Shadwell — were having Thursday “studio night” in Laramie, and dreamed up how they could take their shared interests in land-use, into a new context of Wendover. [The three have exhibited what could be called intra-referential work, in Santa Fe, including paintings of signs along Wyoming roadways (Kikut); enormous trucks rendered as margin-grabbing charcoal monoliths (Shadwell); bell-jar-scaled sculptures of mining gear (Jones).] Idea generated action. Working together and apart, the three spent six weeks in summer 2011, at CLUI Wendover, responding to land-use and the spirit of place. That culminated in GOLDMINES, their joint exhibit that opened July 14th and remains on view through October. (A blog devoted to it can be found at this link.)
including Nancy Holt whose Sun Tunnels, seen this year in a traveling retrospective, are near Wendover.
Far before 1971, indeed a century (and more) before, the pioneer American painter Thomas Moran made “Field Sketches” of Yellowstone Canyon and other previously undiscovered loci in his journeys west, before the train. Encountering Wendover therefore, for Kikut, Shadwell and Jones, manifested an encounter with geologic, social and art histories, and also an opportunity to make new. “It seemed like a new western landscape to me,” Kikut offered. And his travels took him afield as well, to the Twin Creek Gold Mine, in northern Nevada, to places where “marks of human habitation” enabled his 21st-century field drawing.