What if you could combine a road trip with a trip through some of America’s most unique and historic art? With a drive through Nevada, you can do just that. Put the top down and let the wind flow through your hair as you cruise through open highways and linger to take in some of Nevada’s free-range art. First, bring your car to Sun Auto Service for road trip checkup, then explore these five open-air art installations that bring the high culture of art appreciation into the wild and rugged outdoors.
Goldwell Open Air Museum
The Goldwell Open Air Museum is an eclectic yet powerful collection of modern art just outside the town of Beatty. Stand beneath a massive nude Venus that resembles a modern piece of pixel art or peruse haunting statues that mimic wraiths of flowing white cloth pantomiming Christ’s Last Supper.
Spread your arms underneath the bright sun in the middle of concentric circles of stone, all set against the backdrop of crystal-clear blue skies and rolling, sandy mesas. This unique and arresting art installation was created by Belgian artists in the 1980s as an experiment in using the expansive backdrop of nature itself as their canvas.
Michael Heizer’s “Double Negative” sculpture is all positive for fans of subtle art that makes a massive statement in unusual media. The landscape itself was Heizer’s canvas, where in the 1970s he cut a massive gap in the rock of the Moapa Valley. The carved trench is 1,500 feet long, combining both man-made and natural empty spaces to bring strong focus to the theme of displacement and the absence of what belongs in a particular space.
Many have discussed the powerful themes and how they can apply to everything from man’s displacement of nature to the displacement of the self. One unique thing about “Double Negative” is that while its sheer scale makes it a massive and enduring piece, each generation will experience it differently. The artist himself has requested no conservation of the piece, allowing natural erosion and environmental impact to change the nature of his art over time.
Tom Kelly’s Bottle House
The town of Rhyolite itself is a fascinating road trip attraction; an abandoned ghost town, it offers fascinating fragments of a life past – including one of the only buildings left standing, Tom Kelly’s Bottle House. The Bottle House has stood since 1905 and is living proof that recycling and conservation aren’t new concepts. This unique structure was built from adobe and tens of thousands of beer bottles as a supplement for waning natural resources. What began as an act of ingenuity and desperation turned into a testament to the versatility of unique building materials and an inspiration for multiple similar projects. If nothing else, the Bottle House is a strange and unique work of art worth a visit.
Seven Magic Mountains
Not far from Las Vegas is an art installation as bright and glitzy as Sin City itself. Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone as a commentary on humanity’s impact on the environment, the installation consists of seven stacks of boulders painted in colors so bright they border on DayGlo. Set against the dun colors of the landscape, they leap out and immediately draw the eye.
Whether the perceived metaphor for the impact of humanity is a positive one or a negative one is in the eye of the beholder, but there’s no denying that these towering blocks of color, scheduled to stand for two years, are a worthwhile addition to your art tour road trip.
International Car Forest of the Last Church
Driving through the ghost town of Goldfield can make you feel like you’re driving through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, as all around you crops up a field of cars, buses, and other vehicles buried in the sand and dirt. Planted in odd positions and many with their rear bumpers pointing to the sky, the forest of cars brings to mind the aftermath of a cataclysm that left vehicles abandoned to rust in the wake of disaster.
Many have been painted with fanciful and sometimes eerie graffiti and murals. Every vehicle is a photo opportunity waiting to happen; cruise through the strange landscape and stop when one catches your eye. Pose for a photo and pretend for a moment that you’re the last living being left on earth before laughing and cruising on to your next stop – where humanity awaits, an art form you can appreciate as much as Nevada’s free-range art installations.