K and I were 7th seed when we played on the tennis team back when we were in high school. We reminisced about donning our tennis whites and marching to the public park near our school for practices at dawn. So with access to tennis courts (in three types of surfaces) we had to relive the old days and give it a go. Super fun that we got to get a few hours of play in on this desert trip! Nevermind that we are passable at best, and no one knows that 7th seed was last seed at our tiny school!
DesertX. First up was Phillip K. Smith's "Circle of Land and Sky."
Living in Toronto, we do have some events featuring some large installations. I was thinking of things I have seen at the Winterstations or Nuit Blanche events of years past. I wasn't quite expecting the massive scale and quality execution of many of these installations. Perhaps this is due to availability of large desert spaces or maybe they just have a big budget. After seeing the "I am" installation the night before, my expectations were elevated.
The Circle of Land and Sky defines a reflective space within the desert, composed entirely of the environment’s two most prominent physical characteristics -- land and sky. Formed by 300 geometric reflectors angled at 10 degrees, the artwork directly engages with the Sonoran surrounding and the endless heavens. As the light shifts and the viewer moves through the installation, land and sky are separated, merged, and displaced, subverting one’s assumed relationship with the desert horizon. At times, the sky is pulled down to the land or the land lifted up to the sky, while the colors of the west may merge with the colors of the east. It is a constantly changing installation that can never be seen the same way twice.
The next one was hard to find. We were looking for Will Boone's "Monument." After a few U-turns, we spotted this black shape not far from the side of the road. It was the entrance to a bunker complete with disclaimer. You might die! Enter at your own risk.
Hmm, what could be down there?
Here is artist Will Boone's statement:
As a Texan I feel connected to the death of John F Kennedy. I’m not sure if I come from the place where he died or the place that killed him. Like the myths surrounding Elvis, Jesus or UFO’s, Boone sees the figure of JFK as lightening in the ground, bunkered in the very same Atlas Survival Shelter that the then president had in case of nuclear attack. Inside Monument the painted bronze figure is based on that of a hobby-kit, scaled up to heroically Hellenistic proportions. It might be equal part Catholic reliquary or one of the secretive roadside shrines found in the nearby deserts of Mexico, dedicated to the narco-saint Jesus Malverde. Either way it speaks not just to all those things that have been driven underground since the extinguished optimism of the sixties but to those same fears - nuclear attack and the invasion of the other – that have been so vividly resurrected in recent times.
Next up was Doug Aitken's "Mirage," a stunning ranch-style house made entirely of mirrors set in the hills where San Jacinto valley range meets Coachella valley, perched above the city of Palm Springs. For more details and beautiful images, visit the artist's website for this piece.
Here is the blurb on this installation from the DesertX site:
In the tradition of land-art as a reflection of the dreams and aspirations projected onto the America West, Mirage presents a continually changing encounter in which subject and object, inside and outside are in constant flux. The ranch-style structure suggests a latter-day architectural version of manifest destiny, a primary structure rendered by the artist without function service or texture. With every available surface clad in mirror it both absorbs and reflects the landscape around in such ways that the exterior will seemingly disappear just as the interior draws the viewer into a never-ending kaleidoscope of light and reflection. As Mirage pulls the landscape in and reflects it back out, this classic one-story suburban house becomes a framing device, a perceptual echo-chamber endlessly bouncing between the dream of nature as pure uninhabited state and the pursuit of its conquest. For more information please visit: dougaitkenmirage.comTook so many photos! It was hard to resist this photogenic gem.
Next we drove off to the Ace Hotel and Swim Club passing this eye-catching Chase building on our way.King's Highway Diner at the Ace Hotel for our B-I-N-G-O session. When's the last time you played Bingo? We were disappointed there were no dabbers but this was quickly forgotten once the dynamic hostess with the mostest, Miss Shirley Claire introduced herself! She is in her late 80's and looked like a million bucks and was vibrant as hell! K and I totally want to be her when we grow up.
We left here for a very forgettable meal at a place that made us change tables three times, then served what we deemed "scoop scoop" food. You know when the meal shows up 2 minutes after ordering it as it was scoop scooped out of a big trough with little care. I can't even remember the name, but I guess that doesn't matter! Should have stayed at our spot at the Ace Hotel. Regrets!
They did have a cool bar top at the resto... too bad about the food.
All in all, Day 3 was another fabulous day that I really loved.