Friday, February 17, 2017

Back to the Ghost Town

The Red Barn (Part I)

Once upon a time (2008) I went to Rhyolite, a most fascinating Nevada ghost town. My quest was to complete a residency kindly offered by the Goldwell Open Air Museum. The setting was the Red Barn, a spacious studio set amid silence and ghosts in the town of Rhyolite, just East of Beatty Nevada, home to the Museum.

Orienting myself with a compass
I built with native rock at basecamp

Sanding my precious cherry blocks (en plein air)
by the Red Barn
Every day I would set off in one cardinal direction, sketching along the way directly on one of 20 little blocks. I would walk one, two, perhaps three miles off into the desert, mountains, washes and canyons and at the furthest point, look back to the amazing Red Barn.

A Simple Formula

My quest was to portray (in woodcuts of course!) the Red Barn as the Center of the Universe and so I ended up with four larger woodcuts (24x30 inches), four smaller (12x24 inches) and twenty tiny ones (4x6 inches). The larger four are views FROM the Red Barn looking out toward the four cardinal points, the smaller four are views OF the Red Barn, each from a natural "window" located at the four cardinal points. The tiny woodcuts recorded random observations along my walks. 
Sketching the South
old ice house by my shoulder

Inside the "studio" sketching larger blocks
from reference photos

The eight larger blocks

Tiny Observations

And so I have (finally, finally!) begun carving the smaller woodcuts. There is a narrative too; I wrote a diary of my musings as I walked and later in the perfect silence of the desert nights. Once I have all the woodcuts carved and prints printed, a book will come together...this year, I'm feeling it!

Here are some of the sketches, 5 East, 5 West, 5 North and 5 South, for a total of 20 4x6 inch blocks.
The West, looking toward some of the ghost town

The North and the mysterious open mines

An old post office, looking at the red barn through
the window

Two of the medium "windows" blocks 24" x 12"
Left Red Barn Viewed from the North
Right Red Barn Viewed from the East

Top Bank building in Rhyolite at dusk
Bottom View of Rhyolite from the South

More to come as wood chips fly.

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