DAY V • THE FLATTEST PLACE ON EARTH

Tuesday, September 17th

Land Art - Journal Entry No. 3

9:47 am – Motel 6 Parking Lot • Wendover, Utah

Yesterday, we drove several hours to get to Wendover, Utah- a strange town that could easily serve as the poor man’s Las Vegas. Wendover is comprised of typical looking casinos, motels and not much else. Situated between the renowned Bonneville Salt Flats and the state’s beautiful mountains, you would almost think that you were stepping onto a movie set. It just doesn’t look real. There, we stayed in the town’s Motel 6, which is just as scenic as the city it’s located in. The two-floor facility requires you to walk directly into your room from outdoors. In your room you’ll find two double beds with American highway printed comforters and a simple bathroom. There are no fancy elevators, no bellboys to assist you, no room service and no cool amenities. The motel was incredibly basic, but after two nights of camping, it actually felt like a temple of lavishness. It was so amazing to sleep in an air-conditioned room with a real bed. Now, I realize just how much I took for granted the simple things that make life so much easier. Understanding that there are people in this world who do not have the luxury of a roof over their heads, I am more grateful and appreciative of what I have. I am lucky and anyone who is reading this from a computer screen or a smart phone is too.

After we got situated in our rooms, Sheenagh, Naomi and I went to the local convenience store to buy some supplies. Once I saw the prices of everything, I went a little crazy. To put it all into perspective- a box of cigarettes was $4.50. In New York the price of that same box of cigarettes would be around $12; nearly three times as much. So with that said, I left that store with a large haul that included cotton leggings, a fashionable looking turban (which was only $2 because no one in Utah would dare wear a turban), shampoo, conditioner, and a bar of chocolate. My shopping came to an underwhelming total of $14.00. A real steal if I do say so myself.

Later that day we went out to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, The Salt Flats Café. It was a cute little restaurant that, like most of the places we’ve stopped at on this trip, was almost empty. Like the convenience store, the food was incredibly cheap. I ordered a delicious burrito that was accompanied with generous sides of beans and rice. The meal, a larger and more authentic version of America’s favorite Mexican fast food joint, Chipotle, was only $5.00. Needless to say a couple could easily take a weekend trip out to Wendover and have a quality time for less than $100. It’s amazing to see the quality of life in other American towns in comparison to a city like New York. Somehow governed by the same institutions, these two places are dramatically different from each other.

10:36 am • Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

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.

11:49 pm • Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

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.

This new campsite promised to be a bit more advanced than the last two. It had running water, a built in fire pit, toilets and a lovely picnic area. The sun had already set midway through setting up camp, which made putting up the tents a bit more difficult, but I’ve found that this team of artists is incredibly driven not just in their work, but also in whatever they set their mind to. So, in fabulous fashion the tents went up. A fire was also erected, although it’s presence was completely unnecessary other than for the light it gave off. As its name implies, the Valley of Fire is hot, very hot, which makes sleeping there incredibly uncomfortable.

I’m sharing a small tent with Naomi, who like me, cannot bare the heat. As we struggled to get comfortable I got to know her better. Initially, I assumed Naomi was much younger than she is. That was not a result of her demeanor, but more so her youthful girlishness. She’s an adorable strawberry blonde, with a sweet face and long legs. She often keeps to herself, wandering off with her camera, observing things more closely than the others do. She seemed a bit shy and quiet at first, but I guess the heat brings the bitch out of anyone.

Naomi appears to be very grateful for the opportunity to be on this trip. A student of art, her passion didn’t find her as quickly as you might think. After years of working different jobs in London, she decided to take an art course for fun. The class sparked a desire to be a career artist and a dedicated undertaking to achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree. Now in her late 20’s, age has no influence on Naomi’s determination.

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Photography Credit: Alexander Getty 

Alexander Getty is a San Francisco based photographer with an immense passion for what he does. Having started at a very young age, Getty honed his craft learning from mentors, family members, and professors in Rome, London, and New York. He began his career in New York where he attended the School of Visual Arts while balancing a job at Getty Images. Today Getty lives and works as a professional photographer in San Francisco, California. His work has been featured in galleries and publications internationally.

Originally published on Promote & Preserve.

DAY IV PART II • EARTH APPRECIATION

Monday, September 16th

Roadside Reflections - Journal Entry No. 2    

9:46 am – Sun Tunnels • Northwest, Utah 

Before packing up our campsite, I decided to give Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels one last visit. I went over with my Moleskine and pencil and situated myself in the shade of one of the tunnels. Through its lit holes, I could hear Sheenagh singing. She was in a different sun tunnel and her beautiful, delicate voice echoed through it. In another tunnel, American artist, Chris Willcox was practicing yoga. His eyes were closed, his shirt was off, and he was peacefully stretching his body in satisfaction. Earlier today, I saw Chris and another artist, Adeline, practicing yoga on the area’s dirt-like soil. They both seemed so in tune with their bodies and the land around them. I found it interesting. It’s a rarity to see people interact with the earth in that way.

In New York, people are so out of touch with nature. They wake up in their apartments, exit onto busy streets, enter into underground transit stations, ride the train, get off and then file into a building where they spend most of their day. There’s no real interaction with any of Earth’s natural life. Animals are limited to domesticated cats and dogs. Plants are, more often than not, artificial or kept in vases. It’s a fact that almost everything in New York is man-made.  This is a lifestyle that most people, including myself, live. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I think it’s incredibly beneficial to escape every now and then and appreciate Earth’s natural gifts. Leaving the New York bubble has already given me a different perspective on nature, one that I think everyone should be exposed to; its beauty is serene and calming. With business always on the mind, even here, being in this environment relaxes me.

Only a few days in, the introduction to these natural environments is beginning to make me feel indignant of the life I live in New York. It’s so easy to neglect and mistreat the earth when you live in a city that lacks these signs of life. This land sees the effects of the pollution that cities like New York produce. We can’t see it, so we don’t feel it, but we’re quickly ruining the air and the land that supports us every single day.

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Photography Credit: Adam Joseph Brochstein 

Adam loves eating five cheeseburgers a week. To be honest, sometimes its more. It's a fairly terrifying sight. But he only enjoys a cheeseburger after he makes pictures. That comes first. He completed his B.F.A. at the Art Institute of Boston. He now resides in San Francisco, CA where he recently completed his M.F.A. in photography at the California College of the Arts. He formerly lived in Boston, MA where he relocated from south of the MasonDixon line, by way of Boulder, CO. Adam is available for editorial & commercial work and is actively pursuing his personal work as well.

Originally published on Promote & Preserve.

DAY IV • ON THE ROAD WITH ADELINE DE MONSEIGNAT

Monday, September 16th

On The Road - Journal Entry No. I 

In Transit From Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels To The Valley of Fire

Since the day we arrived, each participant has been sitting in the same exact spot in one of the two Gerson Zevi Land Art road trip vans. As we spend so much time on the road, each van was given a name. The one led by Alex Gerson goes by the name Dave and its counterpart, led by Matteo Zevi, goes by Dina. In my opinion, the difference between them is remarkable. Dina’s members are better taken care of. We often have internet hotspots, outlets to charge our electronics, apples to healthily snack on, and are overall very kind to each other. Dave on the other hand often gives off bizarre scents, maintains a plethora of  junk food, and must constantly assert their “greatness” in unfriendly ways, like taunting Dina’s members and referring to them as Un-Dave. Clearly, my feelings hint at the fact that I ride in Dina.

I sit in the fourth row of the eleven-seater. A row ahead of me is Adeline de Monseignat, 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.

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Q + A W/ ADELINE DE MONSEIGNAT

VISUAL ARTIST - LONDON, UK

 

Sarah Mendelsohn: So Adeline, how did your interest in art first develop?

Adeline de Monseignat: It’s very difficult to think of a specific time. I think I was always interested in art through the influence of my father. He was artistic himself so I used to pose for his photography and his paintings. He also loved collecting in his own way and had painter friends come to our home and hang out. That’s how I grew up. He always wanted to be an artist himself, but he never really dared to just go into it. My father was a lawyer and a diplomat; he was also in the council in Monaco. So I was able to witness how several facets inspired him. He was an adventurer as well. He loved traveling. He would go to Argentina for two months a year and do his own thing. I always admired that and really enjoyed observing him.

SM: So, then your family must have been supportive when you chose to make that your career?

ADM: Yeah, very supportive. My brother-in-law was quite worried that it wouldn’t happen. He would tell me, “You always need to have a plan B if this doesn’t work out accordingly. Study something broad that doesn’t narrow down to just being an artist.” So I did. I pursued a bachelors of arts in Language and Culture and I was taking a lot of course work in literature and film studies, things like that. It was a four-year program and during my second year I had a melt down. I started crying, “I want to quit. I just want to start over in art school.” I was desperate to just throw myself into art and only do that night and day.

SM: So there’s nothing else that you would want to do then?

ADM: No, not at all. I’ve always known that this is what I wanted to do with my life. I tend to say that I’m a sculptor, but that’s not really true. I’m more of a visual artist. I use all sorts of different mediums and I know it’s going to evolve. I started as a painter. I was painting for seven years. Now I’ve been sculpting for three, four years. I might start doing videos at some point. God knows where it’s going to take me.

“I tend to say that I’m a sculptor, but that’s not really true. I’m more of a visual artist. I use all sorts of different mediums and I know it’s going to evolve. I started as a painter. I was painting for seven years. Now I’ve been sculpting for three, four years. I might start doing videos at some point. God knows where it’s going to take me.”

SM: Why did you decide to make the change from painting to sculpting?

ADM: I think I got bored of a 2D surface and kind of wanted to explore this 3D world and other materials. I don’t know. Even within my painting I was very tactile. I used to use oil and I was very into the material of oil paint for what it is, the sensuality of the material itself. Sometimes I used to paint with my fingertips and then the first few sculptures I made were actually with paint, but as a sculptural medium.

SM: Those are the sandwiches you made right?

ADM: Yeah, the paint sandwiches. Also when I look back at my paintings I was always more interested in the object within the painting rather than the painterly inspiration, the inspiration of the surface, which is not what I’m really good at. I see how my painter friends work and how they explore surfaces. I’ve never really been into the details, priming the canvas and things like that. I was more interested in the object.

SM: I don’t know recent it was, but you showed me pictures of the sculptures with hair in them. How did you come up with that idea? What is it called?

ADM: Hairy eyeballs!

SM: Haha, can you tell me more about it?

ADM: I first started using fur as an interactive medium. I invited people to touch the sculptures, experience them. I thought it was interesting to observe people’s reactions to that. I made one specific sculpture, which involves the fur within the lining of the sculpture so you wouldn’t really see what’s inside. You would just see the outside. The fur was so dense that it blocked your vision. You didn’t really know what was waiting for you when you put your hand inside of it. So, I had it exhibited. People went to experience it and a lot were quite scared. It’s like you don’t know if your hand is going to be chopped off.  After a bit of time you go through the experience and it’s entertaining, but there’s nothing left after that. You do it and that’s it. So, that’s interesting. I wanted to understand what would detain that attention. So I started reading about the difference between potentiality and actuality. How something remains potential. I started encasing the fur behind glass so that it would suggest touch, but in actuality you would never have access to it. So it’s suggesting touch with your eyes, rather than with your hands. You would never actually touch it so its potential remains.

“I wanted to understand what would detain that attention. So I started reading about the difference between potentiality and actuality. How something remains potential. I started encasing the fur behind glass so that it would suggest touch, but in actuality you would never have access to it. So it’s suggesting touch with your eyes, rather than with your hands. You would never actually touch it so its potential remains.”

That’s the organic evolution of how I got into using fur. Little by little different things within that started interesting me, like the fact that they have a sense of presence. The vintage fur coats that I used have been worn and commissioned by women whose names are embroidered within the lining of the coats. So that gave them a sense of presence. So, for instance I had one piece that I called Loleta after the woman who wore the fur coat. There is a sense of manifestation within that sculpture knowing that it used to belong to her, that I named the sculpture after her.

SM: Do you prefer to make your art interactive? Recently you’ve done a couple of works that are.

ADM: They are interactive one way or another. Some are more obvious. Even now if I don’t ask viewers to touch the piece with their hands, the contact is still there. They are still in touch with the work even if there is no direct physical contact. There is still a communicative dialogue with the object. Art is interactive whenever you feel an emotional response towards an inanimate object.

“They are still in touch with the work even if there is no direct physical contact. There is still a communicative dialogue with the object. Art is interactive whenever you feel an emotional response towards an inanimate object.”

I collaborated with two artists, a philosopher and my mom. I asked them to give me their birth certificates; from those, I got their dimensions, their weight, and their length when they were born. From those I made biomorphic, hand blown glass shapes and then I mirrored them. I mirrored the insides of the glass so that meant that whenever they would hold the sculpture not only would they have a sense of presence within it because of the weight of the sculpture, but they would also see their adult reflection in it. It was like a flashback of themselves as newborns. That’s an unusual, new way of interacting with a sculpture that we’re not used too. 

 

SM: What was the name of that series?

ADM: The Creapture Project. Half creature, half sculpture. It was interesting to see people’s reactions and how they felt towards the object. I did one of my mother and she said something interesting. She said, “It’s very strange for me to see you make some sort of baby from my measurements. It’s kind of a role reversal.” That was kind of interesting. She was so touched by it that she bought the sculpture. Now she has it at home and it’s almost like she’s taking care of herself in a very strange way. My mother is someone who is very selfless and she’s always thinking others, she’s always looking after other people, but she never puts herself in the front row. So, to have that object as an interactive medium for her to look after herself and think about herself for once is a very nice thing for me to see. It’s that subtle, emotional interaction that you have with an inanimate object that I’m interested in. That’s the perfect of example of how it happens. Sometimes it doesn’t, but when it does and you see an emotional response that’s when I find if the piece is successful or not.

SM: So with your art, most of the time you have touch be an aspect of the work not just vision. I know that you’re also interested in massage therapy so I was wondering how they’re related- if your interest in that has anything to do with touch being part of your work.

ADM: All of my interests are linked at the end of the day. Even if it’s not clear to me today why these things could be linked, I’m sure at some point it will be. I’ve always been interested in how human contact is necessary to feel a connection within our species and how it makes us feel alive. I decided to get a diploma in massage therapy at the same time I was starting my course in ceramics. I just sourced a lot of similarities of how the flesh acts in comparison to how the clay will act. I think I told you the anecdote before?

“I’ve always been interested in how human contact is necessary to feel a connection within our species and how it makes us feel alive.”

SM: About the doctors?

ADM: Yeah. One day I went to class and my ceramics teacher told me that the following day he was expecting six surgeons to come in because he had to teach them how to throw at the wheel. That’s just because the way surgeons handle flesh is very similar to how you’re supposed to use a plate. It’s the right amount of firmness. You have to be in control, but not too strong and not too soft. You have to be really aware of your movement and I think there are a lot of similarities in how you handle those materials and the body. So clay and flesh are quite interesting like that. He also said that they would go to a tailor and learn how to sew properly. So they learn the way in which skin acts in comparison to fabric. I use quite a lot of fabric in my work these days so it’s very important to understand these mediums and how they link to us as human beings.

SM: That’s amazing. So then what are your thoughts on this trip so far?

ADM: I can’t really think of a better setting to be inspired and to be surrounded by people that are sort of interested in the same things as I am, but in different fields. So, I’m learning tons not only from our travels, but also through the people I’m meeting. I think that’s a big plus because if I did a trip like this by myself I would be fascinated, but being surrounded by twenty other creatives that are also bringing a similar energy to the trip is an added luxury.

“So, I’m learning tons not only from our travels, but also through the people I’m meeting. I think that’s a big plus because if I did a trip like this by myself I would be fascinated, but being surrounded by twenty other creatives that are also bringing a similar energy to the trip is an added luxury.”

SM: Is there anything we’ve done, a place or an event that has been really inspiring to you?

ADM: Everything has been inspiring even if I’ve been responding to some things in a deeper way than others I think all in all I’ve benefited from everything we’ve seen and experienced. I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries and I was reading a piece on how children need an object to understand the boundaries of their bodies and their mother’s bodies. Apparently, at birth children think that their body and their mother’s body is one and they need a transitional object to understand that distinction. The most common ones are teddy bears and blankets. I was curious to understand if adults consistently need a transitional object to understand ourselves better and I was kind of questioning if art is the medium for us to understand the distinction between nature and us. Basically, just understanding our selves better. For example the Spiral Jetty was quite an incredible artwork, but I think the fascination was in the artwork itself. The landscape was so inspiring and breathtaking, all the elements were there- the salt, the boundary between the sky and the lake. The art was almost just a medium for us to experience that and have a bit of a meditative moment thinking about our existence and bigger questions, but essentially it serves the purpose of that transition.

SM: Definitely. So, what are you doing when this is over? Are you going back to London?

ADM: I’m going back to London. The Frieze Art Fair is going to be around so I have a few shows during that time, but I’m working on another project that I’m really excited about at the moment. It involves a charity called Dramatic Need and I’ve been asked amongst ten other artists to be a part of it. The charity enables children from South Africa to express a past traumatic experience. They are asked to record their story or hand-write them and I was sent quite a few of them. I chose one that really touched me and it’s a story written by this little girl named Meine. She wrote about how she lost her mother at age 8 and how as a result she also lost touch with her half brother. This got me thinking a lot about the weight of words and how one builds a text and how all of these things relate to construction. So I was thinking about a way I could transform every single one of her words into something that has weight to it and how they could be a part of a bigger puzzle and be spread. Spreading the word so that her story would be bigger than just one person. In her story she talks about hearing the news about her mother passing away and taking her school clothes off. So I had the vision of her body feeling quite vulnerable and exposed. Again, how the clay and the body have such a strong link. Bricks are made out of clay. Exposed brick shows her vulnerability. So, I was thinking about wrapping bricks, giving her that sense of protection again. Every single piece of fabric would have one word of her story embroidered on them. Essentially once all of the bricks are wrapped bearing one word per brick. The whole wall would be a monument to her and her story would appear like that. I’m still working on how to build that wall. The event is going to be in November and all the bricks are going to be sold individually. So more than one person will carry a little bit of the load of her story. It’s quite a nice idea. I Skyped with the little girl and I asked for her permission to use her story, which she kindly accepted. She said her story was one of too many stories and if me using hers would help at least one other person than she would be more than happy. I think it gives a whole new purpose to making work when you know you can improve someone’s life or at least make them feel heard and understood and supportive. It’s a really interesting and rewarding journey I’m on by doing this project.

SM: I look forward to seeing it! Thank you Adeline.

Originally published on Promote & Preserve.

DAY III • FINDING PURPOSE IN DESOLATION

Sunday, September 15th

Land Art - Journal Entry No. 2

9:07 am – Spiral Jetty •  Rozel Point, Utah

Last night was my first time camping and thankfully, it wasn’t as rough as I imagined it being (although it definitely was for some people). While walking over to our tent, Naomi, a British artist, and I came across a wild animal. This animal was a gorgeous gray and yellow snake, and as we shone a light upon it, it swiftly slithered away from us - Naomi gasped, I stared in amazement. I never saw a snake in the wild, especially one that large. I thought it was so cool. Unfortunately, not everyone sees wild reptiles in the same way as I do; I received unfavorable reactions to the news I presented to the other campers. Telling them was the stupidest thing I could’ve done. I scared the shit out of everyone. One of our tent-mates, Sheenagh, was so startled that she decided to sleep in the van. Most of the others slept in fear and talked about it until they fell asleep.

I slept alright, but the feeling of uncleanliness did not sit well with me. I hated not being able to shower last night or this morning. Brushing my teeth proved difficult, as no matter where I tried to do it, flies would follow. Above all, going to the bathroom was the most uncomfortable event. It meant you needed to find a rock to squat behind or you had to use the pop-up toilet tent we set up; while it provided privacy, it made everyone aware of what you were doing. Like a dog, its use required you to leave with a small garbage bag filled with your emissions.  I’m unsure if it’s something I can ever get used to.

This morning as I helped pack up the campsite, I talked to my tent-mate, Alex Getty. Alex is a photographer based in San Francisco. While rolling up sleeping bags, he questioned the background behind my work. “So how did you start writing?” he asked. It’s weird. In all the years I’ve been writing, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question, so I was a bit unsure how to answer it. “Well, I’ve been telling stories all of my life, I guess,” I replied. Further into the conversation, I explained not being full-time writer, that I must throw in a few other jobs to support myself, but that I wish I could live solely off of it. “For a while, I had to do the same,” he told me. “I had a professional office job for 7 years, and 3 years ago, I was finally able to make photography my full time career. It takes time; just don’t give up.” Alex is almost thirty years old, so it was encouraging to hear that there really is no time limit for passion to become more than just pursuit.

7:49 pm – Sun Tunnels • Northwest, Utah 

We drove through nowhere to get to the Sun Tunnels, which are also in the middle of nowhere. We are so much in nowhere that when I asked our group leaders what region of Utah we’re in, they informed me that this area doesn’t really have a name because we’re in the middle of nowhere. Driving to the Spiral Jetty yesterday, I said that we were driving through miles of nothing, but I was mistaken. Our current location actually required us to travel through miles and miles of nothing. Unlike the drive to the Spiral Jetty, our drive to the Sun Tunnels held no form of life whatsoever. No humans. No animals. No trees. No grass. There was nothing in view other than dirt and dust bunnies that make up the land.

When we arrived, none of us seemed to eager to exit the van. From a distance, the Sun Tunnels did not look so impressive. Slowly but surely, we left the car and entered into the dry, hot heat.  As we walked closer to the piece, I became more interested. To someone who was completely unaware of the Sun Tunnel’s purpose, Nancy Holt’s work may just seem like randomly left behind construction cylinders, but knowing what these cylinders are meant to do changes their appeal entirely.

Nancy Holt scoured America’s Southwest in search of the perfect place to present her concept. She landed on northwest Utah by Lucin, an abandoned railroad town. Many believed that the land was completely useless, but Holt saw its potential. She ended up buying forty acres of the land, which would soon be home to the Sun Tunnels. With a team of scientists and contractors, her conception was erected. Although a work of art, Holt also had a valuable purpose for this project. Together, the cylinders serve as a calendar that is based entirely on the sun’s position in the sky. The “useless” land was perfect for the endeavor, as it was flat and barren. There is nothing to distract you from her work, not even cell phone reception or wifi. 

Although I was told not to compare Holt’s art to Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, I couldn’t help it. With Spiral Jetty, I was far more impressed and attracted to the beautiful landscape surrounding the piece than I was the actual jetty. Smithson’s piece only added to the natural landscape, it did not take attention away from it. It’s almost as if Smithson was inviting people to come to a part of the earth they would have never thought of going to otherwise. 

Likewise, Nancy Holt invites people to a place they would have never gone to on their own. The difference is that an astoundingly beautiful environment does not surround the Sun Tunnels. There are no flowers or sparkling salt mounds here, just acres of dry dirt and flatland. You cannot help but be immediately attracted to Holt’s work; you have no choice. And what I find most incredible about the Sun Tunnels is its location. There are people from both near and far who actually make the venture to visit it. That includes Utah’s citizens; the same ones who said the land was useless are the same who make the trek to see it. Holt gave this empty land something no one thought was possible- purpose. That is art in itself.

Photography Credit: Alexander Getty

Alexander Getty is a San Francisco based photographer with an immense passion for what he does. Having started at a very young age, Getty honed his craft learning from mentors, family members, and professors in Rome, London, and New York. He began his career in New York where he attended the School of Visual Arts while balancing a job at Getty Images. Today Getty lives and works as a professional photographer in San Francisco, California. His work has been featured in galleries and publications internationally. 

Originally published on Promote & Preserve.

DAY II • BEAUTY BEYOND WORDS

Saturday, September 14th

Land Art - Journal Entry No. 1

11:06 am – Microtel Inn Parking Lot • Salt Lake City, Utah

You would think that waking up in a strange motel room with a girl you spoke to for less than 20 minutes the night before would make things really awkward. Luckily for me, Sheenagh is a sweet, down to earth girl, and even though her jet lag caused her to rise at 5am, she was respectful and friendly. Over a pre-breakfast coffee, I got to know her in a more proper way. She told me about her work as an artist, her recent master’s degree, a move from London back to her home in Ireland, and her longterm boyfriend, John. Once I spoke on my own situation, it seemed that although Sheenagh is nearly 10 years my senior, we are in strangely similar places in our lives. She explained that after completing her master’s degree in London, she moved into her grandmother’s old home in Ireland. Although it was financially convenient, it was a hard move for her because London is really the city she’d love to be in. Before the trip, she was contemplating her next move.  She considered pursuing a teaching career even though that’s not something she’s entirely keen on doing, but it would enable her to have a steady paycheck and also give her the funds to continue to pursue her artwork. We both agreed that a creative career is tricky. You have to go into it not expecting to ever be financially secure. It’s a job that you love enough to be okay with struggling from time to time. “I would really hate to have a job that would make me completely miserable,” she said in sincerity.  

We walked down to the lobby where we faced the group we would be traveling with for the next month. Initially, it was kind of intimidating. Everyone seemed like they already knew each other and no one was quick to introduce themselves. Sheenagh and I poured ourselves cups of coffee and tried to sit with the group. Between popping mini muffins, we both expressed the same feeling- uncertainty. Shortly after, we were led outside where we were presented with our transportation for the trip- two vans with trailers attached to their tails. The first trailer was packed with everything we would need for our camping expeditions: tents, sleeping bags, food, toilet paper and anything else you could ever think of needing (if you were sleeping in the wilderness). The second trailer was set up to look like a gigantic walk in closet with plastic shelves situated on its walls. Each Land Art participant was given two shelves for any materials that would need to be readily available. We all checked it out, briefly introduced ourselves to each other, packed the trailers and were soon on our way to our first Land Art destination.

5:39 pm – Spiral Jetty and The Great Salt Lake • Rozel Point, Utah

I normally really dislike being in a car for long periods of time, but the three-hour trip to the Spiral Jetty went by easily. That was mostly due to the fact that Utah is stunningly beautiful. We drove through miles of vividly green grass, deep violet mountains, and the largest bright blue sky I’ve ever laid eyes on. Utah is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen. Everything we saw- the livestock, the flora, and the random architecture- looked like things you only see in your computer desktop options. It was one of the few car rides in my life where my attention was almost completely geared to the road traveled. The drive, however, was only an appetizer for what was to come. Our first destination was Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Smithson is known as an important pioneer of the Land Art movement. In 1969, he took out a twenty-year lease on an abandoned industrial site on the Great Salt Lake to create one of the most celebrated works of all time. He converted the industrial wasteland destroyed by oil prospectors into a romantic artwork entitled The Spiral Jetty. The Jetty features a spiral road of black basalt stones and land jutting into the water of the lake, which was reddened by algae, bacteria and brine shrimp.

To be very honest, although the Spiral Jetty is incredibly unique, it was not as impressive as the land that accommodated it. Of all the places I’ve traveled to in my life, this area was one of the most beautiful. It was almost unreal. The Great Salt Lake sparkled like snow but wasn’t cold, and it felt like it was exfoliating my skin.  The shallow pools of water that surrounded the mounds of salt mirrored the cerulean skies and frothy white clouds above it. This landscape created a heavenly looking Great Salt Lake. It was amazing to walk through it and just have it envelop you. We camped on a mountain overlooking the Jetty, which was just as striking as the lake it overlooked. The dramatic dark stone mountain was embellished with charming little sunflower- like flora that covered it entirely. It just didn’t look real. At one point, I climbed the mountain and looked out at the space around me. I was amazed at all of the physical beauty and serenity around me; it was breathtaking. I thought about my home in New York and how I was so far away from that. So far away from the busy streets, the self-concerned people, and the media that fuels it all. Here I was, standing on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, with no wifi or cell phone service.  I am out of touch with Miley Cyrus’s twerking, Kim Kardashian’s weight gain, and unfortunately, even the crisis in Syria. Nothing can touch me here and only the earth’s natural beauty can affect me. I can’t believe I’m here.

 

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Photography Credit: Alexander Getty

Alexander Getty is a San Francisco based photographer with an immense passion for what he does. Having started at a very young age, Getty honed his craft learning from mentors, family members, and professors in Rome, London, and New York. He began his career in New York where he attended the School of Visual Arts while balancing a job at Getty Images. Today Getty lives and works as a professional photographer in San Francisco, California. His work has been featured in galleries and publications internationally.

Originally published on Promote & Preserve.

DAY I • TAKING FLIGHT

Friday, September 13th 

Roadside Reflections - Journal Entry No. 1   

6:36 pm - JFK International Airport • New York, NY // 11:57 pm - Microtel Inn • Salt Lake City, Utah

As I’m waiting for my flight to Salt Lake City, I decided it would be the best time to start writing my Land Art journal. I’m always incredibly cautious when writing in a blank notebook. It’s a weird habit. I spend a good amount of time thinking about what I’m going to write and then very carefully outline the words on the page as neatly as I can. When I complete a sentence, I reread it; if it’s not to my liking, it gets erased and rewritten. Most of the time, the eraser marks bother me, so I end up ripping out the page and start the process all over again. It’s an odd sort of pressure I put on myself to start things as perfectly as I can. This weird stress is even more apparent in this journal I’m keeping to narrate my experiences on Gerson Zevi’s Land Art Road Trip. I’ve already ripped out the first two pages. Writing on the first page of a new notebook is like making a first impression. Although, unlike a journal, physical interactions can’t be ripped out and rewritten; You only get one opportunity to introduce yourself. Tomorrow, I’ll be introducing myself to 18 strangers in a completely unfamiliar place. That thought is somewhat nerve-wracking, so this is a way for me to channel all of that energy into this notebook. Moleskine was kind enough to provide me with three lined notebooks, each one a different color. Of the three, I chose to start this adventure in the one colored green. Green is a color that symbolizes many things, one of them being nature, which this trip will definitely have an abundance of.

The project itself is called Land Art, which implies that art is one with nature. We’ll also be camping for more than half of our journey, which should be interesting considering that I’ve never camped in my life.  Green also stands for growth, which I hope to experience on this new adventure in my life. And finally, green symbolizes freshness and prosperity. In addition to being a month of growth, this is a fresh start. This is the first step I’m taking into my post-graduate life. It’s an opportunity that I have never experienced anything like. So it’s fresh, just like this Moleskine notebook. And to tie it all together, these were my initial thoughts sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to Salt Lake City, Utah. The plane ride to Utah was a bit strange. I felt so unprepared for the destination I was headed to and so unsure of what I should be expecting when I arrive. I tried to look at it in a positive perspective and quickly my excitement overrode all of my nervous feelings. I spent the majority of my flight fixated on a series of Friends episodes. It put me at ease and entertained me for the entire five hours I was in the air. I audibly laughed a few times, which caused the girl sitting next to me to give me a few stares. She had a sweet face, pretty blue eyes and full lips, but her head full of colorful dreadlocks seemed to take away from her dainty facial characteristics. She seemed to be interested in me, while also judging me at the same time. We didn’t exchange any words until the plane landed. I turned on my phone and suddenly it beeped like crazy, warning me of missed messages and emails. She spoke, "Wow. Someone’s popular.” I responded, “No, I just forgot to mention to many of my friends that I was flying to Utah tonight.” She gave me another one of her judgmental stares, “How do you forget to tell people you’re going to Utah?”

She asked that question as if I told her I couldn’t remember my first name. So, I responded honestly, “Well, I was really preoccupied with New York Fashion Week this season so that had a role in my poor planning.” “What were you doing at fashion week?” she asked. “Um, I was writing, covering the shows, you know.” She took my answer, but instead of digesting it decided to further implore. “So, what are you doing going to Utah if you’re a fashion writer?” Great question, I thought, although I was surprised this woman thought she already knew so much about me that she could assume my interests couldn’t extend past fashion. I told her a bit about the road trip ahead of me. Her reaction implied that she thought I was expressing some sort of betterment over her, which I was trying very hard not to do, but her judgmental stares kept pushing me to verbally prove myself. So, I took it with a grain of salt and as soon as the doors to the plane opened I made a swift getaway from her presumptuous looks. When I exited the airport, a shuttle bus came to greet me along with a text from Alex Gerson making sure I arrived alright. He informed me that I would be sharing a room with a girl named Sheenagh (pronounced She-nah) whose flight from Ireland should have also just landed. A cute girl with strawberry blonde hair sat beside me on the van. I assumed it was Sheenagh, but said nothing to her until we reached the hotel verifying it was the girl Alex had texted me about. Between delays and layovers, Sheenagh had been traveling for nearly 24 hours to get to Salt Lake City. She seemed incredibly hazy, but she managed to get a small conversation out. She told me that she is an artist, but didn’t inform me of much else. As soon as we got to the motel, she got ready for bed. While she did, I nervously called my mentor to hear a familiar voice. It would calm my nerves before going to bed in a shared room with a stranger at the Microtel Inn in Utah.

Originally published on Promote & Preserve.

GERSON ZEVI PRESENTS LAND ART

As New York Fashion comes close to an end, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what’s next for me. I am a writer, and I have been since I was sixteen years old. It’s been so much a part of my life that it has become my identity. Throughout my college career, my work has allowed me to write for a handful of publications, interview many inspiring individuals, and attend some wonderful events, it’s been great and I absolutely love it. Unfortunately in this day and age, writing doesn’t pay the bills. Now I’m not only a writer, but a writer with a college degree and loans to pay off. And like most people my age, the question of what to do after receiving my diploma in the mail is confusing. Do I attempt to make this whole blogger, freelance writer, copy editor, and occasional publicist thing a full-time career? Or do I join the ranks in that oh so appealing nine to five desk job, that although may often be redundant, can actually guarantee a roof over my head. It’s a tough call.

Luckily, my student loans don’t start to loom over my bank account until 2014, so I have some time to dabble in the more appealing option. From one freelance project to the next, I’ve been doing everything from playing Rain Room "Cop" at the Museum of Modern Art to writing for Milk Studio’s online publication for Fashion Week. I’ve had some interesting experiences this summer, and just when I thought those days were starting to reach their limit, another exciting opportunity presented itself through HY.GEN.IC’s Founder. Although a promising experience, the assignment he proposed to me was one that most could not fathom me doing. You see, I’m primarily a fashion writer. So both my upbringing as a Long Island princess and my expertise and passion for fashion did not lead me very far into the wilderness. I’ve always traveled to cities, and if not a city, then an area not far from one. Even in my college days abroad, an older boyfriend allowed me to bypass backpacking and hostel hopping in favour of luxury hotels and fancy dinners out.

So, this assignment is a special one and incredibly unique to me. Gerson Zevi, an internationally recognized online art collective, offered HY.GEN.IC a spot on an intelligently curated month long road trip. This project invites 30 creatives to travel throughout the American southwest, from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Dallas, Texas. We will be visiting some of the most important artistic and natural sites and collections that can be found in the United States today. Stops include Robert Smithson’s Spiral JettyMichael Heizer’s Double NegativeWalter de Maria’s The Lightning Field and museums such as the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Judd Foundation, and the Menil Collection. The participants, myself included, will also be camping in various locations along the way, including the Grand Canyon and the White Sands Desert. Yes, even the girl who writes about thousand dollar gowns walking down the runways of Lincoln Center can find a trip like this appealing. The kicker is- I’ve never gone camping before in my life.

And so, as I make the transition from a high heeled fashion journalist in New York to an experiential writer sleeping in the white sands of New Mexico, I invite you to join me in this incredible adventure. I will be keeping a daily blog that will detail my daily happenings and experiences through my words and photographs. My Instagram will also be regularly updated with every move I make on this road trip. Finally, along this epic journey I will be going back to the basics: keeping a hand written journal sponsored by our friends at legendary journal brand, Moleskine, taking Polaroid photographs that have been made possible by the Impossible Project, and protecting both my precious journals and the equipment enabling me to share my work with the internet with a very special bag provided to me by Chrome Industries. After the trip is over, HY.GEN.IC will share this journal and its Polaroids detailing everything on the trip- from the places I go to the people I meet and of course, my feelings throughout it all. My trip takes off from JFK this Friday the 13th and begins in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

In addition to our readership, a special thanks goes to Gerson ZeviMoleskineChrome Industries, and The Impossible Project who deserve credit for continuously reinforcing and supporting our growth. Stay tuned and welcome to Land Art. 

ABOUT GERSON ZEVI

Gerson Zevi's Land Art road trip is a month long trip through the American Southwest aiming to inspire and engage a group of 30 artists, creatives, and collectors. Beginning in Salt Lake City on September 12th, and traveling through Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, the trip will visit some of the most important artistic and natural sites, collections, and experiences that can be found in America today. Stops include Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, Walter de Maria’s The Lightning Field, and museums such as the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Judd Foundation, and the Menil Collection.

 

Participants will also be camping by the Grand Canyon and The White Sands Desert. The international group includes writers, photographers, painters, musicians, filmmakers, and a geologist. Matteo Zevi, co-founder of Gerson Zevi says, “Every year, small numbers of art lovers take road trips to discover one of America’s best kept secrets: the Land Art of the Southwest. Whether these journeys are accomplished by car or plane, nearly all the participants travel in small groups, and at a considerable cost.” Co-founder Alex Gerson adds, “As a result , these trips are small and unpublicized happenings, rarely shared or celebrated outside of the participating community. Our trip will be different in size, scope, and ambition.”

Alexander Gerson and Matteo Zevi, the founders of Gerson Zevi, met at Harvard, where they were involved with the undergraduate art scene and startup ventures. Zevi comes from a family of traditional European art dealers and collectors. Gerson managed undergraduate businesses as a student and minored in studio art, writing his senior thesis on film aesthetics.Their joint passion for art and business led them to a realization: young people just out of college and beyond want to buy art, but are too intimidated by traditional galleries or art fairs, and cannot find the right place to purchase high-quality and unique works online. In order to refine their concept, Gerson and Zevi have assembled an international team of young and dynamic curators, artists, and tastemakers. 

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Photography Credit: Dylan Ozanich via Finding Main Street

Dylan Ozanich, fine art photographer and business owner, was born in Grass Valley, California. Dylan’s uncommon renditions of city life and style along with his alluring view of different cultures provide us with a unique view into photography. As one half of the San Francisco-based art tandem Devoir Art Collective, Dylan Ozanich's work has been exhibited throughout San Francisco, as well as in New York City, and Las Vegas. He is currently residing in San Francisco, where he runs his business and furthers his photography career.

Originally published on Promote & Preserve.

Blow Me A Kiss

There is a specific kind of power that can be found in a pair of lips. If their corners are turned upwards they can create a smile, often a symbol of happiness depending on the reason behind their movement and also frequently something that warms the hearts of those on it's receiving end. Sometimes, they part ways to blow out cigarette smoke - an action that is always glamorized in film and depicted as something dangerously sexy, at times mysterious. Even more compelling than a smile or a cigarette puff, is a kiss. Based upon situation and culture, a kiss can express feelings of friendship, greeting, love, passion, sexual activity, respect and at times much more. Acclaimed author and style innovator, Alice Harris, realized this and created "Blow Me A Kiss", her new book that draws in on our fascination with lips, their aura and power. In her new coffee table book, Harris curates a great collection of iconic images, paintings and more that offer a dazzling look into our allure with varied tones of crimson colored lips. She goes as far back as mid 20th century photographs of the iconic, Audrey Hepburn to even recent photography like Solange Knowles on the cover of Complex. Through her artistic choices, Harris proves that lips have long been symbolic of beauty, elegance, love, lust, happiness and more and further, that their appeal isn't fading away any time soon. You can see some of the amazing imagery in Harris' new book below. To see them all in their beautifully printed glory make sure you pick up a copy of "Blow Me A Kiss".

Leonid Afremov

It's rare that an artist today is able to make a living from their original artwork without exhibiting at galleries or collaborating with other brands, but Leonid Afremov was able to do it. Like his way of selling his work, the type of pieces he produces are also unlike any other modern contemporary artist. Inspired by artists like Marc Chagall, Picasso and other 19th Century Impressionists, Russian-Israeli Afremov is a modern impressionistic artist who works mainly with a palette knife and oils. His painting are comprised of heavy brush strokes in rich color and emotion. They are incredibly beautiful and a pleasure to look at. Today, Afremov sells his artwork on the internet. You can see more of his work on his website and easily purchase one straight from your computer screen.

 

Yago Hortal

What is the most important part of a painting if it's not the colors that propagate it's composition? In art, darker colors tend to invoke sadness, mysteriousness, and dark feelings, while warmer shades always seem to induce happy and positive sentiments. So it should be to no surprise that most art aficionados are immediately drawn to the vibrant works of Spanish painter, Yago Hortal. With the powerful strokes of his paintbrush the Berlin-based artist creates bright bursts of vivid color that formulate into beautiful pieces of eye candy. Any of Hortal's paintings could certainly liven up a room and add sunshine on a gloomy day in an instant. My own thoughts, as a writer more attracted to clothing over stationary visual art, envisioned these colorful strokes smeared across white column dresses, tailored slim fitting pants, and neat button downs adding intensity to simplicity. I would absolutely love to see Hortal collaborate with a fashion designer in the future. I find his brilliantly colored works to be quite alluring.