In August 2012 I responded to a Request for Qualification for an art installation in a U.S. Forest Service visitor center to be built in Kyle Canyon on Mt. Charleston. They were looking for six qualified artists to make proposals. A few weeks later I was informed that I was one of the 6 chosen to create a formal proposal. I proposed Polage® art for a small section of the front windows as well as some other locations. In September, I was asked if I could modify my proposal to include the whole line of windows along the south face instead of the other two locations.
My proposal was to attach to each of the 25 windows across the front of the building, panels in the shapes of the major peaks of the Spring Mountain Range. To the naked eye it looks like etched glass. But if you happen to be wearing polarized sunglasses, or catch a glimpse through polarized panels I designed for the space, the window pieces will reveal colorful images of hundreds of species native to this region. My hope is that people will look closely and perhaps learn to recognize which species they are seeing. There is only one small reference to our human presence in this stunning natural landscape. See if you can spot it.
Here’s a hint: “Take only memories, leave only foot [or boot] prints.” —Chief Seattle.
It was exciting to find out in December 2012 that I had been chosen as one of two artists to create work for the center.
I am so grateful to have been awarded this perfect venue for my art form, as well as to all the people who helped me along the way. Like a book or movie, I could not have done this alone.
Acknowledgements are in order.
Thanks to Karen DiSorbo for encouraging me to apply. Many thanks to Lisa Stamanis who served on the selection committee. I am also so appreciative of the wonderful wildlife photography by my assistant and photographer Vicki Rose which formed the bulk of my reference photography. My daughter Erika Wood helped with research and viewer design. A huge helping of thanks goes to my daughter Cara Wood Ginder who made three separate trips from New York to help with the execution, cutting thousands of tiny
pieces of clear cellophane following my drawings. I certainly could not have done this project without my wonderful assistant and studio manager Jodi Schwab who helped us negotiate the wilds of government paperwork!
And of course, as in almost all of my big projects since 1976, I could not have done this without the help of my husband and collaborator, David Comarow. Not only is he my wisest critic, and suggester of good ideas, but he is the brains behind and organizer of the installation mechanics. He and our talented studio assistant James (Marty) Shelton, made the installation process go really smoothly.
The visitor center building itself is a work of art, thanks to architect Craig Galati of LGA and project manager Deborah Bergin.
This visitor center will fulfill an important need for a pleasant, comfortable location in this beautiful National Forest complete with informative displays and picnic areas. There are short paved trails for parents with strollers and comfortable benches with beautiful views. Forest Service project director John Harris explained that it will be both a starting point for the devoted hiker as well as a destination for the less ambitious who will find plenty to do in the large outdoor area around the building, taking some “pressure” off the mountain trails.
The visitor center will be open to the public starting May 30th, 2015.
[More photos of the installation below. Click on any of the images to see a larger version of the photo.]
After several construction delays, we’re thrilled to announce that we have completed and are finally installing all 25 Polage window panels for the Kyle Canyon Visitors Center!
My daughter, Cara Wood Ginder, who has been making Polage art with me for over 30 years, made several trips from New York to help with the fabrication. Thank goodness there were no more natural disasters on Mt. Charleston and we are installing the windows on time.
It’s amazing to think that I began work on the design almost two years ago! I created two large large binders with all the reference photos and names of the species included, organized by panel. This installation is going to be instructive and beautiful! I can’t wait for visitors to accidentally discover there is color in the art when they catch a glimpse through the polarizing filter stands and hand held viewers.
I am feeling connected to all the stained glass artists who created monumental works for cathedrals of Europe. In a sense, I too am trying to inspire and instruct.
I am trying to inspire the same kind of awe for our fragile natural world as they did for religious beliefs. It is going to be a terrific facility!
Watch this space for photos from the installation and close-ups of the panels.
As I proceed with the design of the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Windows Installation, I immerse myself in the flora and fauna of Kyle Canyon and in our rich Desert environs. The plant life here is particularly graphically interesting, stark shapes and spears providing great visuals sparks for the mural. The wildlife is beautiful too, and I have the advantage of bringing shy creatures to the fore for close viewing and playful situating amongst their real home environment.
There are 7 different ecozones of the Spring Mountains. From Lowest to highest, they are: Saltbush, Creosote Bursage, Blackbrush/Joshua tree, PinyonPine/Juniper, Mixed Conifer, Bristlecone Pine and Alpine.
I”ve started drawing the species listed for each ecozone from life around me and from photographs. For the majority I have been able to use my associate and avid photographer, Vicki”s photos. For others I have searched the internet for closeups and certain identification. Many source images are from the collections posted by Stan Shebs, a local botanist who has been working on uploading pictures of all the plants of the Spring Mountains on to Wikipedia, and Gary Monroe, a Nevada botanist, has also been submitting a lot of plant photos for Nevada, including the Spring Mountains, to the PLANTS database at: http://www.plants.usda.gov/java/ These were kindly provided to me by Forrest service Botanist Jennifer Brickey from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.
One of the great things about working with the National Parks Service is getting the chance to use art to inform and educate. On setting out into the canyon, visitors can get an idea of what to look for, or having returned, see close views of what they may have glimpsed.
I love working with the natural wonders of the desert. Ever since I moved here from the east in 1976, I”ve loved learning about life in the Mojave.
Here are a few more samples of my resource sketches:
Progress on the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Windows Installation:
I am spending the holiday season really involved in my work on the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Window installation.
I researched the Spring Mountain range and identified about 20 major peaks and traced their most identifiable outlines. Then I arranged them from south to north (right to left) and drew them out. After that I traced them into the computer as a vector file. This is useful for when we have the Plexiglas backing of the Polage art cut out in those same shapes. The last image in this post shows a computer print out of a small section of the mountain outline.
This phase of the project involves online casino looking at the whole piece in a broad perspective. The next phase will see me getting into the smallest details of the project, the flora and fauna of the area, a diverse and beautiful range of creatures and trees and flowers all loaded into this natural preserve so near our home in Las Vegas.
Once I”ve gathered my drawings of the elements of the region, I”ll once again broaden out my viewpoint on the piece and begin composing the content that will be visible through a polarizing filter. Watch this space for more reports on my project!
Visitor”s Center Polage titled:
I am at work on the window installation for the Kyle Canyon Gateway visitor”s center. It will be a translucent (back-lit by natural light) Polage art work integrated into the front windows, approximately 24” to 30” high by 73 feet long. Each of the 25 panels will fit inside the window mullions, spaced out from the glass much in the same way stained glass is installed. The translucent art will be constructed on 1/4” thick panels of clear acrylic cut into the shape of the mountain range. The outline will reflect actual profiles of the main peaks in the Spring Mountain range.
To the unaided eye, the art will appear to be a simple grey profile of a mountain range, but through polarizing viewers in the environment, colorful imagery will appear. I am designing a collage of images of flora and fauna native to the region. Visitors will be able to identify such things as Anna’s Hummingbird, Clark’s Nutcracker, Sagebrush Checkerspot Butterfly, Palmer’s Chipmunk, Columbine, Indian Paintbrush, bristlecone pine, online casinos etc.
When viewed through 2 differently oriented polarizing filters, or if a viewer is rotated 90 degrees, contrasting colors and images will appear, giving the impression of seasonal change. This provides a perfect opportunity for the interpretive staff to talk about the local ecosystem and how its components interrelate. Our experience in other nature centers is that the surprise and the interactive nature captures visitors who would otherwise walk by without noticing the details.