I consider myself a person of moderate climates. I am cold way too easily, and sweat like a dog under the summer sun. Cold, I can endure, since it is quite easy to layer up with some good-quality fabrics. Extreme heat, on the other hand, is not possible to overcome easily. Your body needs to be okay with heat. Mine is not. DSC_0191That’s why the last few days were intense for me. I was in Death Valley National Park with a few friends of mine. Not the best idea to go to one of the hottest places on this planet, but I actually spent quite a lot of time in Yosemite National Park before Death Valley, so I was ready to go have some time in the scalding hot desert. The first few moments we arrived, we were in 2000 ft. elevation, and I wasn’t feeling the effects of the heat at that moment. But once we actually reached sea level (and below), that’s when ~100F temperatures hit and I started overheating like an old car. All I wanted to do was to enjoy the scenery inside the car which had blessed me with the good old air conditioning. However, things got quite interesting once we drove out of Death Valley to see the ghost town of Rhyolite. My friends were obsessed with gift shops and the like, so they decided to stop by what looks like an abandoned shack that had a shady “GIFT SHOP” sign. But, there was something interesting right behind that shack. It appeared to be a woman that was on her knees. DSC_0280A naked woman. In the middle of the desert. Pixelated. That hot, boring desert suddenly had turned into something intriguing, with a bunch of other statues and works of art spread around. I apologize for the horribly dirty lens, but I thought it added a nice touch to the picture (in addition to the high ISO speed I forgot to reduce). DSC_0293Apparently, the collection of statues belong to the Goldwell Open Air Museum, an “art gallery” made possible by Belgian artists. The gift shop we pulled next to had a really friendly employee, who told me the story of how this open air museum came to be. It was as fascinating as the sculptures themselves. Belgian sculptor Albert Szukalski became quite famous with his style, “ghosts”, and sculpted The Last Supper in his own style. He was fascinated with the desert landscape and originally wanted The Last Supper to be placed on Death Valley, which would make the sculpture even more dramatic. However, that did not happen and the sculpture was put right outside of Death Valley in early 90’s.DSC_0288After all that, artists from Belgium came to Rhyolite, bringing their piece of art to this remote, arid, scary part of the planet and decided to merge their art with the discordancy of Southwestern US. There are, of course, more than The Last Supper and Venus of Nevada in Goldwell. There’s “Ghost Rider”, another sculpture that came to life by Szukalski, shown below. Right behind the ghost rider, you can also see “Sit Here!” by Sofie Siegmann.DSC_0297 There are a few other sculptures I regret not to have photographed, but I suppose those ones should be left for you to discover. The contrast between the works of art and the surrounding environment was the reason I was incredibly driven towards this place. Before even starting to take pictures, I actually spent some time inside the “gift shop”, talking to someone who was carving a Native American flute as I started talking to him. I listened to him tell the story of this amazing setup, and he played one of the flutes he made. All I hope is I find something quite similar to Goldwell in one of my future journeys.

Advertisements