In Northwestern Nevada, is an oasis formed by Wall Spring (and judicious use of a rented skiploader). In the past, I have referred to it as Mike Moore’s place in the Smoke Creek Desert, but it is as much Linda Fleming’s – Mike’s wife’s – as his and it is now becoming a home to some major pieces of her art. Linda is an artist who creates, among other things, Wall Art and Sculptures. Her work hangs – stands? – in such diverse collections as the Stanford University Museum of Art, the Albuquerque Museum, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Oakland Museum, the U. S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and, I want to add, Michele’s and my home where we have two of her drawings. Now some of her major pieces are at, or are moving to, Wall Springs.
On our way to Portland, Oregon to go to nephew Jason’s wedding, we decided to go via Wall Spring, in Nevada, for dinner with Linda and Mike (it makes more sense if you have the roadtrip gene). It turned out that Mike’s brother Kirk and his sister Kathy would also be there to make it a party. We were bringing much of the dinner because we had stopped at the San Mateo Farmer’s Market and we wanted to tout our fresh produce over what we assumed – wrongly, I think – to be their meager desert fare. We are also on a barbecued goat-leg jag and we brought one with us, it is perfect for a party of six.
We wanted to be there by four to get the goat on the barbie, and catch the 5 o’clock tour of Linda’s work – and we were running late, having diddled away an hour in Truckee – so the last hour and a half of our trip was at 60 miles per hour, or so, over gravel roads. Windows up, cool air blowing through the quiet car from the A/C, the desert, almost motionless in the windshield, with only time rushing by, was a new experience for us. We were in a rented Chevy Captiva, a compact SUV, that is just sold to Car Rental Companies. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the start of the end of our Range Rover adventures.
We got to Wall Springs on time, and while Mike prepared the barbecue, Linda took us on a tour. The one time I had seen more than one piece of Linda’s – often – huge sculptures was at a show in the Esprit Sculpture Garden in about 1988, and I was thrilled to see some more ( it even included a nice wine, like any uptown opening).
Wall Springs is relatively near Gerlach which has become better known as the closest town to Burning Man and the result is that Gerlach now has the infrastructure to place large sculptures. This is slightly ironic because Mike, like most locals, doesn’t like Burning Man. As an aside, the lines on the Buffalo Hills are old beaches where the water level was during the last Ice Age. End aside.
On her website, Linda says My works hint at the co-existence of the mundane and the cosmological where two realities simultaneously exist including the possibility that the past is also present. The structures are diagrams of thought that provide a glimpse of the strangeness beyond the every day world; opening a place where thought becomes tangible, history leaves a trace, and information exhales form. My reaction, seeing the work here, is visceral; they just seem to fit, to be part of the geological province.
As an aside, the dog is Lefty who is a rescue dog. Lots of people I know have rescue dogs – or cats – but they don’t know they are rescue animals, but Lefty does. Mike found him with his left foot caught in a coyote trap about 50 miles from the nearest paved road (for the longest time, I kept calling Lefty, Lucky, and still want to call him Lucky for what I think are obvious reasons). End aside.
Sitting on the back porch, drinking my wine, eating Linda’s appetizer of heirloom tomatoes, and watching the alpenglow glow on the Fox Range , I am struck by two, almost diametrical, thoughts. Why does this austere, inhospitable, landscape so pull me? How come it doesn’t pull everybody?
We had roast goat leg, corn brought by Cathy and Kirk from Truckee, and salad for dinner as the Terminator – the line marking the earth’s shadow – under the pink Belt of Venus, ended the day.
The air is soft in the Gloaming and the Silence flows in off of the desert floor. On the back porch, we soak up the moment, knowing it is valuable for being transitory. Tomorrow, the heat and the glare will return; the air so dry it buzzes, the light harsh, and the heat an overbearing physical presence.
The next morning is Monday and getting our usual late start, we turned off the gravel Smoke Creek Road onto an actual paved road at about 11:30. In this case, the paved road is Highway 447 which goes north into Cedarville and beyond.