DAY 13 - ON THE ROAD WITH CHRIS WILCOX
I always feel that first introductions can tell you a lot about a person. Aspects of the way in which we conduct ourselves when interacting with someone new will carry on throughout a developing relationship. I found this notion especially true in my initial conversations with artist, Chris Wilcox. I first met Chris in Salt Lake City at the starting point of the Land Art Road Trip. After loading the trailer with our belongings, I realized that I needed something to keep me warm in Utah’s rainy weather. I returned to the trailer where Chris was experiencing a similar response to the temperature. After exchanging a few words, I struggled past the mass of newly added paraphernalia in the space. “I have a really warm sweater you can borrow,” he offered when he noticed that I foolishly placed my things in the depths of the trailer. “It’s a really nice one. I know I’ll be jealous that you’ll get compliments for it instead of me.” In a way, it was like Chris spoke ‘fashion.’ Without even seeing his sweater, he convinced me to wear it. Within minutes, he pulled out a bright red cardigan decorated in equally colorful details. He was right; it was definitely warm and, as he predicted, it garnered many compliments from the group.
A few days before the festival, I was backstage at the Howard Theater with Modi, who had put together an event with some local area bands for DC Beer Week, and I asked about his team and their importance. He immediately replied, “My team keeps me sane. We’re a family. All different people, all different mindsets.”
It’s apparent after interacting with Modi for even five minutes how truly essential he feels that familial vibe for his team. But while it makes sense that childhood stalwarts and college roommates like Quinn Coleman and Marcel Marshall, respectively, are treated like brothers, this feeling of family spreads to even their most recent of interns. Modi feels responsible for them and they, in turn, feel responsible to him. I prod him on how he fosters such allegiance and he simply states, “We try to give them opportunities.”
What he can’t give in monetary compensation, he gives in support and networks; and he understands specialization: “I always ask ‘What do you want to do? What’s your goal?’ If I know your goal, then I can place you where you’ll work best.” What's truly amazing is that he follows through on these assertions constantly, referencing many connections he’s made and withholding many more that I already knew he was a part of. Those connections became grateful fans and those fans became devotees, and Modi thrives off that support. It’s his life-force. It’s why he still looks so awestruck when he marvels, “We have a big ass team now. And it’s been crazy to see it grow from an idea.” Read More
DAY 4 - ON THE ROAD WITH ADELINE DE MONSEIGNAT
I sit in the fourth row of the eleven-seater. A row ahead of me is Adeline de Monseinat, a lovely artist who is one of the first members of the trip I was able to get to know. We consistently share intelligent conversations, talking about the art industry in a critical way, where her experiences and wisdom allow her to always drop some real knowledge. Born in Monaco, Adeline currently resides in London where she works full-time as a visual artist. Her work is incredibly unique and always provokes thought. However, what I find most interesting is that although she refers to her works as sculptures, clay is rarely involved. She utilizes materials like fur, steel, wood, sand, hand blown glass, coffee, bread and much more. So you can already imagine how cool of an artist Adeline is.
Sitting by the campfire one night, Adeline brought out her iPhone and flipped through images of her work, discussing the story behind each piece. Whether it was the material used or the concept behind its creation, I found each fascinating. I found her point of view and self expression interesting, and her personality combined with the way she carries herself admirable. I quickly grew to befriend her and look up to her as a driven and passionate artist. Read Interview
DAY 5 - BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS
After a small breakfast we left Motel 6 for a quick stop to the Bonneville Salt Flats. I had googled this location ahead of time and was excited to see it in person. The Bonneville Salt Flats is one of the flattest places on earth and as a result is a popular location for speed racing. Normally, the Flats appear to be miles of sparkling salt that stop only as the large beautiful mountains take their place, but today they are covered by a shallow layer of water. So, it’s not as impressive as I hoped it would be. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the endless seeming glimmering water. We stayed for less than hour, took some photographs and are about ready to leave and head to our next destination.
Every single place we’ve been to so far has been amazingly beautiful and completely unlike the last. The Valley of Fire is no exception. As the sun began to set, we drove through the massive red sandstone rocks that give the park its name. Above the red-orange landscape, was a sky that started pink, faded to purple and then seemed to disappear into the valley. Everyone in the van immediately brought out a camera and began snapping away at the captivating view. The colors surrounding us felt almost surreal. It’s unimaginable to consider that the earth is able to create tones in shades of pink, purple, and orange like this.
DAY 6 - VALLEY OF FIRE
During the day, for lack of better expression, the Valley of Fire is incredibly hot. There are no clouds in the sky for temporary relief from the tenaciously beating sun looming above the park until it decides to set for the evening. As I learned, this part of Nevada receives an average of 4 inches of precipitation the entire year; in the summer, temperatures elevate to a scorching hot 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Today, it was in the 90s, and regardless of there being no proper showers at this campsite, a large group of us decided to engage in a game of Whiffle ball. The game was an interesting selection due to the fact that the majority of the participants were British. Most of them were completely unaware of the rules of baseball, which added hilarity to the sport.
The heat and lack of defensive success on both teams resulted in a two-inning-long event. As it ended, I decided to take a break from the sun and joined Chris Wilcox in the shade of the eating area’s red sandstone. I started to write in my notebook when he asked if I was interested in seeing his work. Of course I was. I had not really investigated the work of most of the artists on the trip before coming here. I thought it might be more interesting and insightful to learn about the artist by actually meeting and living with them. So, having the opportunity to hear about Chris’s work in his own words was an instant treat.
DAY 7 PT. I - ON THE ROAD WITH ALEXANDER GETTY
My introductory conversation with Alexander Getty took place after our first night of camping at the Spiral Jetty. As you would assume, I was irritable and unsure; he on the other hand was incredibly positive and overtly friendly. He saw me struggling to figure out how to get a large, fluffy red sleeping bag into the small fabric container it came from and immediately offered a lending hand. Helping me roll up my sleeping bag, he briefly discussed himself and the work that he came on this trip to do. The conversation lasted about 10 minutes, but it was enough for me to deduce the core of his character. Alexander Getty is a passionate photographer and an incredibly caring individual. Those two traits combined enabled us to have our very own photography teacher, amazing photographs to document our journey, and a great friend. He often assists us in selecting the perfect aperture, angles to shoot, and in my case- kindly housed my impossible project film in an iced cooler and gave me advice on how to best preserve it.
His positive personality was so infectious that along the way many of us had to consider the dreaded thought, “What will we do without Alex Getty?” Read Interview
DAY 7 PT. II - DOUBLE NEGATIVE
After packing up camp, we left the Valley of Fire and made our way to Michael Heizer’sDouble Negative. On the drive there, Chris read an incredibly lengthy and detailed New York Times feature profiling the artist. Admittedly not knowing much about Heizer beforehand, I was very intrigued. As he’s described by the publication’s chief art critic, Michael Kimmelman, Heizer’s character seems familiar in another popular creative form more Americans understand: hip-hop music. If we were to relate Heizer to a rapper, he would be the Kanye West of Earth art.
To back up the comparison, one must acknowledge the fact that Heizer insistently claims his work, specifically his most well-known piece, Double Negative, to be absolutely genius. He also informs Kimmelman that his former friend and contemporary, Robert Smithson, had stolen his ideas to create the popular Land Art work, the Spiral Jetty. Even the breadth of his work- massive, yet minimal in notion- constitutes Heizer’s need for vast and dramatic earth art. His pieces both instill awe and fear and, like almost all earth works, create a strong feeling of isolation. Needless to say, the New York Times piece added to the excitement of seeing Double Negative.