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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Exhibit Marks Spiral Jetty Anniversary

The Spiral Jetty Earth art on the edge of the Great Salt Lake was built 40 years ago. Over time it has come to be one of the most famous works in its class, recognized world-wide.

To mark the anniversary, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will open an exhibit next week called "The Smithson Effect," looking at the impact of the Jetty artist. The museum offers this summary of the exhibit:

Comprising works by twenty-two international artists and artist collaboratives, The Smithson Effect is organized around core ideas in Smithson's practice that have critically shaped contemporary art, including entropy, land use, anti-monuments, natural history, and the materiality of language.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the building of the Jetty. Below are excerpts.

"I didn’t understand what he was trying to do," (contractor Bob) Phillips recalls of the meeting 40 years ago. "I kept trying to convince him that he had to follow contracting rules with engineers and surveying and all that kind of stuff."

Smithson, in whose monumental spiral critics would see space galaxies, snail shells and the microscopic structure of salt crystals, already had been rejected by other contractors. "He just kept saying he knew what he was doing," Phillips says.

Smithson finally wore Phillips down, and the contractor went on to help build one of the world’s iconic art works. In the process, Phillips struggled to understand what Smithson was trying to express through the Spiral Jetty.

Smithson was influenced by Utah’s landscape, ecosystem, history and culture in creating the Spiral Jetty, says Hikmet Loe, a curator and art historian who teaches at Westminister College. In turn, the Jetty is changing the way Utah and the rest of the world think about their environment.

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