Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blue Pesher

James Turrell
Blue Pesher, 1997-99
Concrete, neon, mixed media

Around 1981, while I was living in Santa Monica, I became friendly with Walter Gabrielson, a wonderful painter and pilot, who told me about his friend, Jim Turrell, and the volcano he was working on. The what?, I replied. Walter proceeded to describe in great detail Turrell's project at the Roden Crater. I was hooked. It was the most amazing artist's project I'd ever heard of.

For years, I planned to go and visit. I'm not sure what stopped me for it's a much bigger deal now (as is Turrell) than it, or he, was then. I've seen a number of Turrell's interior installations over the years, and while I appreciate them and am glad to come across them, the outdoor work was what I really longed to see. Imagine my reaction when, in 2005, I stumbled across Blue Pesher while walking the trail at Cheekwood in between teaching classes.

One of the great things about the Carell Trail is the privacy in which you can experience the sculpture in the woods. Another is the unassuming presentation of the art and how beautifully the work is incorporated with nature.  Almost every piece appears to be rooted in the site as if sprung from the earth like the tree beside it.  Many thanks and kudos to John Wettenhall for realizing this marvelous spot on earth — rare, if not unique, in the United States. The project makes me, for one, very happy and continues to inspire me on a regular basis.

Learn more about the Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail.

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